Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What I Did On My Holidays

As me and Betty are miseries who don't buy each other presents at Christmas, not even a goat for the poor, I tend to receive the same things each year: Amazon vouchers from my office brethren and HMV vouchers from my mother.

I am now fully spent and satisfied.

From Amazon I got four (YES, FOUR!) early Warren Zevon albums. Playing his Best Of this week I thought it was about time I did so. I first heard Warren on a friend's car radio on our way back from the Bromley Motor Pageant in 1987. He was being interviewed about his comeback album he did with REM. Like all REM-related music after their first few albums, Sentimental Hygiene doesn't really hold up today but Warren's early stuff is still fantastic.

"But what was car-hating Geoff doing at the Bromley Motor Pageant?" you say.

"Some of my friends were into classic cars," I say. "And the twist-dancing fifties throwbacks were very erotic."

From HMV today I got some real bargains.

The two series of Early Doors from when Craig Cash was still good,

And, inspired by last night's Shooting Stars Fest...

The Original Vic Reeves Big Night Out
Bang Bang It's Reeves & Mortimer
and the marvellous Catterick

All for £32!

I'm going to celebrate tonight by watching the Most Annoying People 2008 on BBC3. Bloody bollocks to Jools.

Have a safe night y'all!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Laugh? I nearly Spam Meself

The Bill Cotton tribute (see Betty, here) included the revelation that Bill didn't find Monty Python funny. This could be construed as the establishment not understanding the new young anarchistic comedians. But the establishment was not alone.

Yesterday I watched the original Spam sketch which gave birth to a song and, eventually, a musical. Maybe I missed something when I first saw it?

A late middle aged/young old aged working class couple are lowered into a greasy spoon cafe in which several vikings are eating. The man asks the cafe worker what's on offer.

The cafe worker talks in a high pitched Monty Python working class woman voice. She reels off the menu.

"There's egg and bacon. Egg, sausage and bacon. Egg and Spam..."

The menu continues for a very long time with more and more Spam being added to each dish.

The high pitched working class woman of the couple asks if there is anything without Spam in it.

If she had been listening she would have picked up on the first two items on the menu. Even so, it seems the thick woman behind the counter has got so caught up in the sketch she has forgotten about the egg and bacon and the egg, sausage and bacon, too.

The woman customer is getting very agitated.

"Look, could I have egg, bacon, Spam and sausage without the Spam?"

Yes, you dim cow! You can have egg, sausage and bacon! There's no fucking Spam there!

It then gets all a bit too surreal for me. The woman behind the counter insists the second thing on the menu she first mentioned isn't available and the crap Vikings start to sing the Spam song. The husband of the couple says he'll eat his wife's Spam as he loves Spam. But he asks for baked beans and is told the baked beans are off less than a minute after they were available!

Then John Cleese enters and does his John Cleese impression and is carted off by a policeman.

Jesus, does this go on!

What next? Oh, Michael Palin gets in on the act as a professor demonstrating the Vikings' invasion of the cafe in Bromley, the screen behind him is lifted and he joins in with the Vikings singing the Spam song. And the sketch is over!

Oh Geoff, you say, what's there not to love?

Ok, I'll give you it's silly. It is very silly. It is very very silly. It is very very very silly. It is very very very very silly. It is very very very very very silly. It is very very very very very very silly. It is very very very very very very very silly. And they are naughty boys. They are very naughty boys. They are very very naughty boys. They are very very.........

Oh fuck, can I stop now?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Simon On The Road

More proof in today's Guardian that Simon Hoggart doesn't live in the real world.

There he is, moaning about motorway service station food and bigging up those lovely quiet, country pubs a mere ten mile round trip from a convenient junction.

" was wonderful: amazingly helpful staff, really nice food, a selection of real ales that would have been seriously tempting if I hadn't been driving, and ferocious log fires."

Yes, Simon. It sounds like a nice place for a pub lunch, if a little fucking hot. But an extra half an hour driving and an extra hour to wait for your food as you look longingly at the beer pumps like a fox slavering over chickens in a safe coop! Still, I suppose you've got all the time in the world as you go up and down the country by train and car, week in, week out, for no apparent reason.

"They were full but somehow found another table for us. 'Well, we couldn't turn you away, could we?' said the landlady."

Of course they're not going to turn you away, Simon! There's a pretty good chance you're going to give them free advertising as you're always banging on about what you've eaten the previous week! Unless, of course, they're in the habit of letting any old travelling Joe and Joanne turn up unannounced and share a table with a family of welcoming locals.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day Telly

Just time to fit in a few quick reviews before I continue with my social whirl.

1. Top of the Pops. Adele AND Duffy. Leona AND Alexandra. Take That with their Snow Patrol-lite song AND Ian Anderson lookalike Chris Martin wittering on about Roman Catholic choirs and children singing Christian rhyme. Fearne AND Reggie spouting inanities. But I still miss it.

2. The Queen's Speech. Lizzie spouting inanities. SOSEY. O Little Town of Bethlehem accompanying footage of the baby Jesus Charles with mother Mary Liz at the end. There is no future in England's dreaming.

3. Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spouting inanities. Apparently we've got to look forward to a time when Jesus comes back to earth and we're all going to walk around with big smiles on our faces. Except for racists and homophobes, of course, who will receive no mercy.

4. The Royle Family Christmas Special. At the risk of sounding like a Daily Mail reader, I'm really beginning to wonder if the license fee is worth keeping the BBC alive as they continue to take the piss by letting over the hill writers continue to live the high life on our money. It's like being forced to buy David Bowie albums in the 1990s.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a little bit of Shakin' Stevens, would it?

But does anybody remember Shaky before his hits?

Decades before Duffy's million-selling Rockferry, her rock 'n' rollin' compatriot released the album of covers illustrated below. It didn't trouble the charts.

But Shaky's love of the great Elvis Presley shone through, a full four years before the Welsh wonder rose to prominence in the fitting tribute musical Elvis a full three months after Elvis's death.

On this album he not only covers Presley, he also covers Dylan. The two greatest icons of American popular song! Whaddabout that Shaky, eh?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's A Royal Knockabout

THE GUARDIAN GUIDE (To The Stars of Gavin & Stacey): Have any of you ever actually watched the Queen's Speech?

RUTH JONES: My parents are big fans of the Royal family so we saw it every year. My nanna and grandma used to stand up when they knew the Queen was coming on.

THE GUARDIAN GUIDE: That's quite serious.

RUTH: Yeah, they were hardcore.

MATTHEW HORNE: My parents wouldn't have ever allowed it on. They're not furiously republican, I made that decision for myself.

THE GUARDIAN GUIDE: What would you have done at Ruth's grandparents' house?

MATTHEW: I'd have stood up. And I'd have shat my pants.


Yes, this is the same Matthew Horne who performed at the 2008 Royal Variety Performance in front of the Prince of Wales. I suppose he had no choice, what with his agent putting him in a Catch 22 situation 'n' all.

Being a furious republican myself, I wonder what I'd do if our workplace received a visit from a member of the Royal family. I suppose I'd go along with it, not wanting to make a fuss. I would shake hands and look them in the eye. They are no better than me.

"Don't hate the player - hate the game", as Chris Rock said on his most recent filmed tour. Admittedly not about the Royal family but it applies alright.

I don't hate them. But I think they're fair game for taking the piss out of, like all public figures with no discernable talent.

People like Michael McIntyre, who is my new least favourite comedian after I witnessed his most annoying public school stand up on said Royal Extravaganza. Even the court jesters are posh nowadays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Was Stewart Copeland In Generation X?"

The Police are on Elvis Costello's chat/mutual-dick-sucking show.

The wildest story Andy Summers can think of from their life on the road concerns Andy and Sting once sharing a bed. Hey, hey, rock 'n' roll!

Sting mentions the strange phenomenon of people using Every Breath You Take as the first dance at their weddings. It's about a stalker, says Sting.

Yes, Sting. Anybody with half a brain knows that. It's just that most Police fans don't have half a brain.

Elvis counters with his story of his song I Want You. He's had letters saying what a beautifully romantic song it is.

But it's about obsessive, psychopathic love! From Elvis's self-parody phase, which continues to this very day.

To finish off the show, The Police and Elvis and the Attractions play some cod reggae together to an audience of elbow-skanking middle-aged rich white Americans.

I chuck up all over the carpet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bring Back Steamboat Willie!

In anticipation of Jools' Hootenanny here's Dave Edmunds who will wipe the floor with Duffy, Adele, Lily Allen, Granny Annie Lennox et al. Christ, what an awful new year that sounds like.

The Hold Steady will bore us shitless with their third rate Springsteen-without-a-tune sound, Martha and the Vandellas will be drowned out by Jools' Big Ungainly Band, Sam Sparro will make a swing-style sow's ear of his classic single Black and Gold, The Ting Tings will do the same two songs we heard to death at every festival televised on the BBC in the summer, Dizzee Rascal will have a live backing band with Gilson fucking Lavis on big drums and Svang will be this year's novelty act in the grand tradition of Seasick Steve.

There, you don't need to stay in now, do you?

Anybody who can tell me the significance of the title has my undying love.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Puke Factor

I've just been in Tesco's where some caterwauling cunt is giving it all that. They don't have music in there at any other time of year so why do we have to suffer in December?

And talking of cc's, it seems the Christmas number one is going to be a cover version of a cover version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, sung by the X-Factor winner whose name I don't want to know.

Some twat contacted GMTV this morning to say that their dad was in tears when the cc found out she'd won.

That's not a dad! That's an under-educated, over-emotional, pre-menstrual woman! Get a fucking sex change, man! Straighten your hair and dye it blonde!

There's been an internet campaign to get people to download Jeff Buckley's version of the song to get it in the charts so that people can compare and contrast. More stupidity! The thick masses are not going to like Jeff Buckley. They'd listen to the whole of the Grace album and not shed a tear. We are not dealing with sensitive people with artistic sensibilities. We are dealing with shallow, fake emotions. They watch X-Factor for fuck's sake and feel for the contestants. They can listen to what Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh have to say without wanting to throw a brick at the telly as soon as they open their twatty gobs.

The next time somebody asks me whether I'm watching one of these "family" shows I'm going to kill myself in front of them, to show them the extent of my loathing for this world.

That'll show 'em.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Book Club

The other night I dreamt Russell Brand was my mum's boyfriend. And I was jealous of him! I gave him a basket full of green apples either to show my envy or to bribe him to leave her alone.

When I saw my mum last night I didn't tell her of the dream. She doesn't like Russell Brand. He's too crude. Paul O'Grady, now that's what an entertainer should be like.

I told her about the choice of free books we got at work, only 0.0000001% of which got a review.

"Did you get the George Chisholm one?" she asked me.

"Is it an autobiography? I thought he was dead."

"No, not 'Chisholm'. 'Grisholm'. Did you get the George Grisholm book? Your stepdad's just ordered it on eBay."

"Oh, 'Grisham'! John Grisham!"

"That's it. Did you get it?"


John Grisham

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Are You Reggae For It Now?

Listening to a compilation of the work of the great Prince Far I at the weekend, I thought it was about time I did another of my London Lite inspired quizzes. I thought Prince Far I would be a good start with a picture of Prince William and one of an eye flanking a picture of a far. Trouble is, I couldn't find a picture of a far on the internet.

So here they are, a football team's worth of reggae artists or groups. Who would you put in goal? And who's likely to put his dreads in where it hurts?

The reader with the most correct answers wins a copy of Judge Dread's 40 Big Ones (Remastered). I'll have to trust you if you say you knew ones which had already been answered correctly. Good luck!












Sunday, December 07, 2008

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Vinyl

Murph mentioning independent record shops in his Woolies post reminded me of our local ones when I was a teenager.

My favourite was Cloud 9, run by a quietly greying middle aged man who would um and ah when you asked him for that special record. He could always order it as he usually didn't have it in stock. But his ordering system was second to none and you'd always end up with the record which you would carry home in your Cloud 9 bag, flapping against the side of your bicycle frame as you cycled down the long hill to home at 30 m.p.h.

My second favourite was OK Records, run by a young man with dark, straight, longish hair and large bottle-bottom specs. I remember getting a few second hand prog albums from there and the pride of my collection, Talking Heads' 77. "OK Records" was not really the most inspiring name the shop could have had. An OK record to my mind would be an album by, say, Catatonia. They're OK, not bad I suppose. But nothing to write home about.

Lastly there was TW Records, presumably originally owned by a Trevor Watkins or a Tony Wilkinson. I was put off TW Records because it was the only record shop which had an advert on at our local cinema. The advert was from the early 70s and was five years out of date then, let alone in the mid 80s when it was still running. TW Records might have been groovy in the late 60s but was the most depressing shop to walk into. In its last few years the stock was just there for show and its back room was where all the action went on for spotty teenage boys playing video games. That's what I assumed they were going round the back for, anyway.

So I had Cloud 9, named after the Temptations' song, OK Records, named after Bad Company and TW Records, named after Terry Waits. What about you? The best name wins a £1.99 Amazon voucher.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Comedy Lesson

We tried it. Beehive.

"A quartet of bin-loving Russell Brands"? Check.

"A dating duck"? Check.

"A Sex And The City spoof that's truly worth the wait"? Check.

The quotes are from last week's Guardian Guide. Those sketches were in the first ten minutes. Ten minutes of shit.

I like women that make me laugh. I'm married to one. I wouldn't want to live with a woman who didn't make me laugh.

But why oh why have there been so few funny women on the telly in recent years?

There was Caroline Aherne, usually.

There was Victoria Wood, sometimes.

There was Susie Essman (Susie Greene in Curb Your Enthusiasm).

There was Jane Turner (Kath Day-Knight in Kath & Kim).

There was Ruth Jones in Gavin & Stacey.

There were Sharon Horgan, Tanya Franks and Rebekah Staton in Pulling.

There's still Maggie Jones (Blanche Hunt in Corrie).

There was...erm...


Nope, that's it. There has been a dearth of funny women on the telly.

They've come on their own, in duos or in gaggles like these Beehive bitches. And they've all have one thing in common. They're *zany*, *wacky* and extremely unfunny.

I don't think it's a class thing. They're not necessarily middle class. They haven't necessarily been to university. But they do all think they're funny when they're not. It's so depressing.

I'm not just down on unfunny women this week, though. Last night we watched the latest Screenwipe. Charlie Brooker was sucking up to some writers including comedy writers Graham Linehan and the two blokes who write Peep Show.

Whatever Linehan might have had he's clearly lost as anyone can see by watching ten minutes of The (bloody awful) IT Crowd. But there he was proud of his latest work and blatantly admitting he spends lots of time surfing the internet for source material. Of course we all know the internet is a treasure trove of hilarity. Let's just hope he doesn't go as far as plagiarism, shall we?

The two Peep Show blokes were dull as ditchwater. Meanwhile Brooker is nodding away, receiving good vibes from the writers, hoping he can use these writing tips in his next second rate fictional series.

As I've heard time and time again, it was reiterated by all the writers on view that writing is about rewriting. Apparently you start off with something rambling and shit and you hone it down, fiddle with it, dress it up 'til it becomes a small, glistening turd.

Or something like that.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Please Do Not Punch The Elves

Reading about this New Forest Lapland debacle, I feel sorry for the kids.

There's Lapland in Lapland for rich British families to experience the real winter wonderland. God knows how much it costs for a few days for a family of four.

There's Lapland UK in Kent for less rich/more tight families, costing £75 - £80 each.

And then there's poor old Lapland New Forest at £25 a throw. You can't expect much for that and it looks like you don't get much other than stress.

Christmas was wonderful for me as a very small child because it was all kept to the confines of my close family. I pretty quickly cottoned on that the prat in the department store wasn't the real Father Christmas because I pretty quickly cottoned on that Father Christmas was my dad, not somebody else's. My parents showed me their love by creeping into my room when I was asleep and depositing a pillowcase full of gifts at the foot of my bed. I knew it was my dad (though I've since found out it was actually my mum as my dad was always too pissed to not make a noise).

That was the true magic of Christmas. My dad proving how much he loved me (though now I know it was my mum).

Santa Claus, the reindeer, elves and the rest didn't come into it. And why a sensitive, greedy child would want to share this gloriously selfish time with a load of other snotty kids heaven only knows.

The child who saw Santa smoking a cigarette outside his grotto in the New Forest Lapland will apparently need counselling. Oh come on, at least he wasn't smoking it in the grotto! He wasn't blowing smoke in the kiddies' faces or offering them a drag! He wasn't breaking the law!

If that child's old enough to walk, it's about time they worked out for themselves that that man in the red suit is being paid to dress up. Daddy and Mummy have paid good money so that Santa, the elves, the reindeer, the huskies and the security guards can all have a Christmas dinner of their own, with their own families if they're lucky enough to still have them.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Black, Black, Black

So it's December and our thoughts turn, depressingly, to Christmas.

My mum bought this year's Christmas cards last year.

"But I can't send them," she says.

"Why not?" I say.

"Because the envelopes are black with a small white window in which you write the addresses. I can't send black envelopes."

"Why not?" I say.

"I can't send black envelopes to people who've lost someone. It would bring it all back."

"Christmas is a time for remembering dear, departed loved ones. Maybe all envelopes containing Christmas cards should be black."

Is what I didn't say.


I've given up halfway through the Kitty Kelley book The Family: The Real Story Of The Bush Dynasty. It's been dragging me down for months. And as Nick Hornby said to Clive James the other night, "There's too much to read out there. So if you're not enjoying something, put it down and read something else." Or words to that effect.

What have I learnt from the book? That Grandpa Bush wasn't anywhere near as right wing as Pa Bush. And we all know about Baby Bush, don't we?

I went to the local 70% off discount book shop yesterday and picked up five novels. I've decided to get back into reading fiction, maybe alternating one fiction followed by one non-fiction. I've started The Beach this morning. Yes, I know I'm late to the party! So point at me!

The trouble is, once I start reading fiction I become all confident and think I can write it. Then I start writing and quickly realise it's shit. I'm really more suited to this, churning out bollocks every other day. I'm good at writing bollocks. I don't mind sharing my bollocks but I'm keeping my shit to myself.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Move Over, Darling

Claire from Sunderland makes a valid point in her mobile phone text which was published in yesterday's Metro.

"So the credit crunch has claimed its latest victim. It is hoped a tax increase for the wealthy will help us out of it but I object to Lina McDaid's comment (Metro, Thu) that those earning £150,000 a year should pay more 'because they can afford it'. Why should someone who's worked hard to earn a top salary be forced to subsidise those who maybe haven't worked so hard? I admire those who've done well and think they should be allowed to enjoy the benefits of their labour."

OK, Claire. Say you're "earning" £160,000. An extra 5% on that £10,000 equates to £500 per year. That's £1.37 per day, 0.3% of your gross annual salary.

Say you're "earning" £180,000. That's an extra £4.11 per day, 0.8% of your gross annual salary.

No, it's not fair. It seems the harder one works, the more one gets paid and the more one subsidises those who have earned less money because they haven't worked hard and possibly now are unemployed because of their sheer laziness.

Just imagine what a £160,000 per year executive could have done with that extra £1.37 per day! Imagine how much more they could have enjoyed themselves! An extra tuna and sweetcorn sandwich, maybe!

No wonder Boris Johnson is worried about those "creative" business people who could be driven out of the country because of Darling's persecution.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

White Light, White Heat

I can get a little annoying.

I see a documentary on Neil Young and I have to play everything we own by him. We don't own Let's Impeach The President but found it amusing watching him play it to an split audience, some cheering, some shouting expletives. Seeing an irate, old Republican Young fan after Neil's concert saying Neil could "suck my dick, motherfucker" creased me up. I love it when twats feel they're being ripped off.

I haven't included any Neil on this post. Just a couple of the songs I've been listening to recently.

We bought a Todd Rundgren compilation some time in the 90s. Every now and again I've played it, hoping that this would be the time I'd *get* it. This time I did.

Before, I thought it sounded like Todd was making up the songs as he recorded them. But the more I listen to them the more they get under my skin.

The song on this post, the most immediate song Todd ever recorded, is I Saw The Light, apparently about his main sexual partner, uber groupie Bebe Buell. There could be circumstances where a man or woman might think of their other half when listening to this song. It's a beautiful love song. They may think of love and romance and fidelity, being with that one person for rest of their life as they've seen "the light". Ignoring the fact that it was written by and about a couple whose sexual proclivities would have made Caligula blush.

China Crisis were an odd couple. That's them above looking very smart. I drove all the way to Essex University to see China Crisis, the week after The Smiths had played there. I was pissed off at the time that I was friend enough to drive people to see a second rate synth pop band but not worthy of seeing a major cultural event (with gladioli). But I'm having the last laugh. I'm listening to China Crisis now in the knowledge that they were a better band than The Smiths ever were. And I saw them at their peak!

Betty bought the cd about four years ago and I only found it recently. I had probably made several jokes about having to see the awful China Crisis instead of The Smiths. It was one of my "unlucky me" stories. So even if I'd found it I wouldn't have played it before I decided to confront my China Crisis demons.

African & White is marvellously nonsensical and nonsensically marvellous. Is it about Ian Smith? Who knows? Maybe it's about Tony Greig, a paean to the controversial all-rounder. Or maybe Manfred Mann?

All of a sudden, I don't know why, I'm reminded of the Microdisney album, We Hate You South African Bastards. I saw them live once. They were bloody awful.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cry Me A River

After watching John Lennon live at Madison Square Gardens from 1972 the other night I decided I really ought to get a more comprehensive compilation than the one we own.

So I went on the Amazon site, in the music search section, and typed in "john le". Amazon would complete the rest.

Obviously John Lennon would come out on top as the most popular search?

Wrong. It's John Fucking Legend!

OK, I thought to myself. I wonder who would be top if I typed in "the"? The Who, maybe?

No, it's The Fucking Killers!

So I've decided to try first letter only, going through the alphabet. Here's the results of the most popular searches with a brief description (some with Betty's help) of the type of person who may be looking for the albums of the artist or band...

a - acdc - 49 year old male. Single/married with five children. Still has now too small denim jacket with band logo patches smelling of 30 year old patchouli oil in wardrobe. Heavy drinker. Will play air guitar at weddings. Often wakes up dreaming he is choking on his own vomit.

b - beyonce - 25 year old female. Young mother. Thinks Beyonce has the greatest soul voice ever. Ever.

c - coldplay - 46 year old man. Divorced, three children. Depressed but not suicidal. His children do not understand him. He does not understand his children.

d - dido - 46 year old woman. Housewife. Conservative. Aga owner. Enjoys hosting dinner parties. Heavy wine drinker. Fantasises about Sean Bean in britches.

e - enya - 66 year old woman. WI member. Golf widow. Enjoys Antiques Roadshow and My Family.

f - fleet foxes - 37 year old man or woman. Member of Greenpeace. Says they're "not really a vegetarian because I eat fish. I just couldn't eat anything with legs." Single.

g - girls aloud - 14 year old girl/46 year old man. Schoolgirl/ex-student. Fashion conscious/post-punk irony conscious. Girls Aloud wannabe/Girls Aloud wanna shag.

h - high school musical - 14 year old girl. Interested in boys, especially American boys with no brains.

i - il divo - 65 year old grandmother. Babysitter. Total TV Guide subscriber. Husband has Three Tenors cd and can't believe his wife buys this insipid imitation of the real thing.

j - jonas brothers - 14 year old girl. Interested in boys, especially American boys with no fucking brains.

k - kings of leon - 21 year old supermodel. Didn't like the Kings' old hairy look but thinks they're gorgeous now. Thinks Sex on Fire is the most sexy thing she's ever heard, not realising it's about an STD.

l - leona lewis - 46 year old woman. Sets Sky Plus to record daytime tv. Thinks Leona Lewis is the best British soul singer ever. Ever.

m - metallica - 46 year old man. Married with two children. Electric guitar owner but does not play any more. Thinks Metallica are great and everything else is shit. Is confident his daughters will grow out of Girls Aloud and will listen to his Metallica albums when they reach puberty. Enjoys Jack Daniels "irresponsibly".

n - now 71 - 14 year old girl. Interested in boys. Fearne Cotton wannabe.

o - oasis - 40 year old man. Could have been a professional footballer if it wasn't for "that" injury. Top man to his mates. Thinks Paul Weller is a "fucking god".

p - pink - 40 year old ex-glamour model. Wants to "get the party started" but hasn't got anybody to get it started with. Borderline alcoholic.

q - queen - 50 year old married couple. Two cats. Ten guns. Poster in bedroom of Brian May with his leg cocked up. Still not convinced Freddie Mercury was gay.

r - razorlight - 23 year old female. Pretty. Music tv presenter. Would like to be seen out with Johnny Borrell. Not jealous of Alexa Chung. Oh no, not at all.

s - snow patrol - 46 year old man. Divorced, three children. Depressed but not suicidal. His children do not understand him. He does not understand his children.

t - take that - 32 year old woman. Single mum. Interested in "girly" nights out. Favourite is "little" Mark Owen. Goes out with short men who if she squints really hard look like a distant cousin of "little" Mark Owen.

u - u2 - 27 year old Australian woman. Sits on her boyfriend's shoulders at live gigs. Smiles a lot at just about anything.

v - van morrison - 69 year old sweatshirt-wearing expatriate Irishman with auburn, frizzy beard.

w - will young - 46 year old woman. Divorcee. Proud grandmother. Spends money she used to spend on cigarettes on the lottery. Her diary for early 1992 is filled each day with the words "Gareth Gates is a stuttering shit" followed by the words "Take that you stuttering shit" on the night Will won Pop Idol.

x - x factor - 99 year old great grandmother. In intensive care. Wheeled to tv/computer room once a day.

y - yes - 50 year old prog man. Lives with mother. Has worn out old cds. Poor personal hygiene.

z - zz top - 46 year old man. Likes grizzled artists with beards. See Seasick Steve, Grandaddy, Willard Grant conspiracy, etc. Uncut subscriber.

We have cds by four of the above bands/artists. Girls Aloud, Kings of Leon, Oasis and Yes. Which is not bad going. How many do you have?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thrilla in Manila

So who was the Greatest? I would have said Ali, right up to watching this documentary.

Ali was the most entertaining sports personality ever?

I used to agree with that, even though I've hated boxing for many years. But Ali was bigger than boxing? Ali was an artist?

In his first fight with Ali, Joe Frazier pummelled him and won on points.

In their second fight Ali held Frazier by the neck and won on points.

In Manila...

Joe Frazier was almost blind in one eye from the early sixties. In spite of this massive disadvantage, he became world champion. In Manila, with a few rounds to go, with Joe on top, his other eye became closed up. The penultimate round saw Ali half-murder the blind man. Now both Ali and Frazier were exhausted from the heat and the punishment they had meted out to each other. If Joe had come out for the final round, punching into darkness, Ali would have killed him. The man in Joe's corner was certain of that. He'd seen six deaths in the ring in his lifetime. He didn't want Joe to be the seventh.

They stopped the fight. Joe was furious. He hated Ali so much...

In the run-up to the fight, Ali had called Frazier ugly and stupid. He had called him an Uncle Tom, a gorilla. Frazier was sponsored and supported by white people. Pro-Vietnam War, anti-civil rights Republicans. He had a white girlfriend.

Ali was the darling of the rest of us.

But were there thinking grown ups around then who felt distaste at the gorilla comments? Who knew all about Ali's beloved Nation Of Islam's thoughts on integration, about Ali speaking at a Ku Klux Klan rally because of a shared ideology?

I was not a grown up at the time. I did not think about things. Ali goofing around with Parkinson and Carpenter was entertaining and made me laugh. I really wanted that beautiful, funny, light skinned black man to kill that ugly, stupid, dark black Uncle Tom gorilla.

Joe now thinks the beating he gave Ali in their fights contributed in some way to Ali's Parkinson's. He's glad. He thinks Ali is paying for the way he was when he was younger.

Christ, boxing is disturbing enough as it is without all this on top! Suffice to say if someone asks me who is the greatest sports personality of all time, I won't be plumping for Muhammad Ali.

Princess Anne gets it from me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lester Bangs On About Glam Rock

"...and he doesn't care about rock 'n' roll at all..."

"The ascendence of the people is an indication of the level to which rock has sunk. It's appearance and artifice. There's nothing, I believe, truly committed about either a Bryan Ferry or a David Bowie. It's much more using of rock for their own ego-aggrandisement rather than a belief in the music they are working with."

That was Lester Bangs on the Glam Rock programme in the series All You Need Is Love.

This is the first criticism of artists in the whole series. This is the present day mid seventies. We are waiting for a new musical form to blow the old status quo out of the water. We are waiting for Whatever You Want.

Lester met Ferry at a party. Ferry had little to say to Lester. Lester took this as intellectual poverty, a great disappointment to hear nothing passionate and real from a man Lester had held up as a musical hero after the release of Roxy Music's first album.

So Bowie and Ferry are not great speakers. So what? They're entertainers, Lester. You wouldn't expect Liberace to talk about how much he "believes" in his music. He's in it to show off, to be loved, to be desired by a gaggle of old women!

The same programme showed Gary Glitter, giving his all to an audience of young girls. And they were loving it! There he was, his great hairy gut pushing for freedom from his tight jumpsuit, his nipples red and raw from the friction. And the silly moos were crying "Gary! Gary!", tears of love rolling down their chubby cheeks. Bloody hell, I wonder how those women feel if they see themselves now!

I said to Betty, "Was Adam Ant influenced by Glitter? The two drums and all?" We agreed he must have been. Even going so far as having a Gary in his band, the estimable Mr Tibbs.

Lester was spitting at the times. He's funny and entertaining to watch. But railing so at the seventies it makes you wonder what on earth would he have thought of the soulless mid eighties if he'd survived that long? He was listening to Human League's Dare at the time of his drug-induced death. That's a classic album but Lester probably hated it with its uncommitted synth pop and the LP's cover picture of the completely vacuous, artifical singer in in girls' make up.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

Misery lurks at every corner I turn. I piss on blind optimism. This recession's going to be shit.

This week I received a Les Paul compilation. His work with Mary Ford far outshines his earlier collaborations with the likes of Bing Crosby and Kay Starr. Les's multi-tracking techniques make for wonderfully spooky sounds. And when Mary sings the following Jimmie Davis lyric, the miserable me knows just what she means...

I wish I had never seen sunshine
I wish I had never been blue
I wish I had died as a baby
And then I'd have never known you

The first three lines, anyway. The whole chorus could apply to a few people I've met in my life but not anybody I've loved.

Existential poet and Portsmouth manager Tony Adams is another who thinks deeply, too deeply for his own mental welfare. Watching the Sky highlights of the West Ham v Portsmouth goalless draw this morning, the hapless, depressed players going through the motions in front of advertising hoardings that shout TACKLE BOWEL CANCER, I hear the commentator, John Anderson, say the following...

"Tony Adams admitted that he is a loner who doesn't really like people and would be happy to walk his dogs, never see anyone and then die. Which is a fairly gloomy prognosis in anyone's book, but that's what he said. Let's hope he doesn't mean it."

Maybe Tony would like to be eaten by his own dogs, on lonely windswept wasteland.

Life is all about survival of the fittest, after all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Isn't It Awful When People With Crap Taste Get Into The Bands You Were Into When They Were Good?

The idea for today's post I'm nicking from somewhere I'm a lurker. My favourite West Ham fans' site, West Ham Online.

The title of the thread is "Bands/artists whose most famous song is one of their worst. "

I wholeheartedly agree with the following choices made by my fellow southern knobjockeys (see last few comments here)...

Radiohead - Creep
Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall
Billy Joel - Uptown Girl
Dodgy - Staying Out For The Summer
Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA
Stranglers - Golden Brown
Underworld - Born Slippy
Prodigy - Firestarter
REM - Shiny, Happy People

In addition, I'd like to offer...

Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
John Lennon - Imagine
Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart
Bob Marley - Three Little Birds
Status Quo - Whatever You Want
Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer
Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl
Smokey Robinson - Being With You
Simple Minds - Don't You Forget About Me
David Bowie - Let's Dance
Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing
UB40 - Red Red Wine
Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing
Talking Heads - Road To Nowhere
The B52's - Love Shack
10CC - Dreadlock Holiday
Donna Summer - Hot Stuff

Blimey, that took it out of me.

Any more?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Drat, Drat and Double Drat

It's ninety years since the end of World War One and Dick Dastardly is long dead. The pigeon was a brave American so how come Dick was English? Did he have Hun blood? We need to be told.

The opening credits are brilliant. The glorious music, based on Tiger Rag, and the hilarious visuals. Just how much did Dick's government spend in pursuit of that pigeon? They tried to nab him, grab him, jab him, even "tab" him, all to no avail. They didn't, however, try to stab the little sod. And the pigeon always got through enemy lines.

These opening credits are the best thing about the show. Same with Wacky Races. Same with James Bond films. Same with Doctor Who. They whet your appetite for something good which never arrives.

The opposite is true of The Office, Early Doors and The Sopranos. Shit opening credits and shit music are prologues to excellence. Even fast forwarding through Tony Soprano's interminable journey home has wasted hours of my life. But at least I don't have to listen to that bleeding song.

"Woke up this morning, got myself a gun..."

Oh, do fuck off.

It's rare that the whole thing works in tv drama, where the starter and the main course complement each other. I, Claudius did it. John Adams does it. For films you can't beat Hitchcock and for comedy series' you'll never surpass Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? Perfection.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

By Royal Appointment

I don't think I have an unnatural obsession with Prince Charles and what he does or has done to him on the throne (the only type of throne he's ever likely to park his bottom on).

So why does Google think I'm the expert?

If you ask Google the question "does prince charles wipe his own arse?" two of my posts come first and second. This one will join them in a top three, I'm sure.

My first answer to the question is "I don't think he does. Have a good weekend."

Whether the questioner will have a better weekend imagining a servant inspecting the prince's back passage, I don't know. It may play on his/her mind.

My second answer to the question is "if you're in any way dissatisfied with your arse-wiping experience."

It is useful to know that if you want your bottom wiped more thoroughly you should get yourself a servant.

A few weeks ago the Queen visited Google's UK headquarters. She was shown a computer and asked to type in a question. The question she typed was "does prince charles wipe his own arse?", knowing full well he does.

She's got a wicked sense of humour, our Queen.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

All We Can Do Is Hope

It feels strange. It feels like we should be celebrating but I don't know who "we" are. Not the people I talk to, that's for sure. Nobody gives a damn.

When Thatcher resigned, most of the people I know were sad. Now Bush has gone they are indifferent. Bush has gone and McCain didn't win. Two reasons to celebrate on my own. And hopefully Obama will stop mentioning "the middle class" every ten seconds now. Hopefully real change will come. So why do I feel so pessimistic?

One reason is that the last couple of days on Smooth Radio they've played Marvin Gaye's version of Abraham, Martin & John. Are they the Smoothsayers? Has there ever been cause to look to the future with optimism? How many people's lives will change for the better? Come on, Barack. DO SOMETHING.


I know you've all had other things to think about but I bet you're secretly wondering how I'm getting on with my legs. Triumphantly, so far this week my thighs have not ached. I put this down to a little daily drinking. On Monday evening I had a little brandy. Last night I had a little gin and orange. Betty said the only time she ever drank a measure of gin she was psychotic. "Don't be silly" I said. I'm only having the one.

Last night I woke up at midnight and saw a mouse climbing the wall.

"A mouse!" I screamed.

Tonight I will not drink gin.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

That Blitz Spirit

The train before was cancelled. This one is packed. Twenty minutes into the journey, the train is stopped by a passenger. Someone has been taken ill.

We are kept informed by the driver. We'll have to wait at the station 'til an ambulance turns up.

Ten minutes later we are still waiting. A well built middle aged man talks loudly into his mobile phone.

"It's a fucking joke. We pay two grand a year to travel on these shitty trains without a modicum of comfort."

He is sitting. Many other passengers are standing.

"Supposedly someone's been taken ill. This is always fucking happening. We don't give a fuck if someone's not well. All we want to do is get home."

We're all nodding along with him, of course. I'm not going to clap yet, though. I'm saving my "hear hear!" for the end of his speech.

"Why don't they just leave him on the platform? Then we can all go home. Why do we have to wait around for the fucking ambulance? If that was me in that situation, if I was taken ill, they could just leave me on the platform and then everybody could fuck off home. I wouldn't want to inconvenience people. We're all busy people! We've all got homes to go to!"

Hear, hear.

"I'd better go now and we'll all sit here pretending that we care about someone being ill. Won't we people?"

He finishes his phone call. The woman standing next to me is complaining that she will have travelled for three and a half hours in all today. She left home this morning at 7.40 and she didn't get into work 'til 9.30. That's an hour and fifty minutes for a journey that should last no longer than an hour! And now this this evening! It's beyond a joke!

Ten minutes later the driver announces that the young man is ok and that the paramedics have taken him to hospital. He apologises for the inconvenience this delay has caused us.

I stand up. I am lucky I am in the front carriage because I want the driver to hear what I've got to say. I shout at the top of my voice.


"Well said, mate," says the well built middle aged man. "Fancy a drink when we get to the station?"


"Fucking 'ell, you're making my mouth water," he says.


There is a chorus of "Hear, hear!" We pull in to my station and people shake me by the hand as I walk through the carriage to the exit doors.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Amazing Grace

I always enjoy Jools' interviews with his guests at the piano. Especially the bit when he asks them what was the first music they heard. He gets all orgasmic if they answer "Ray Charles".

This week the guest at the piano was the great Grace Jones. She didn't disappoint me.

Jools: You grew up in Jamaica, is that right? What was the first music you heard there?

Grace: Oh, boring.

Jools: Boring music? You didn't like any of the music there?

Grace: No. It was church hymns, basically.

Jools: Did your dad...

Grace: It wasn't like the Pentecostal Church like you get outside. When I was growing up, Pentecostal in Jamaica was very, like, hymns and, you know, a lot of people sang off-key...

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Jools!

The first music I can remember was the Beatles. Which is about as lucky as you can get. I had brilliant music in my head right from the off. Imagine being three years old when Duran Duran were kings of the pop scene!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another Star Is Born

The Sun today...

ANDREW Sachs’s granddaughter yesterday defended her career with burlesque troupe The Satanic Sluts.

Georgina Baillie, 23, said: “Because we have a hussy name doesn’t mean we’re wanton girls.”

Busty Georgina said the tongue-in-cheek Goth group were from “the same great tradition of British humour as Fawlty Towers”.

This trailer for a Satanic Sluts video from 2006 has the girls dressing up in Nazi uniform. The "SS" insignia of Satanic Sluts is, I'm sure, not an accident. Although it seems Georgina wasn't in the comedy burlesque troupe back then, I'm sure she had ambitions to be.

Georgina's great-grandad was Jewish and escaped Nazi Germany with his family for England just before the Second World War. Maybe instead of Ross and Brand apologising to Georgina, she should be apologising to her grandad.

The humour in Fawlty Towers she is referring to cannot be "Don't mention the war", the only thing I remember about that overrated tosh except for the shite car-beating incident and Sachs's crap Spaniard.

We have been battered over the head with the Ross/Brand bollocks for the past week. And now a star is born! Stick her in the Celebrity Big Brother house now for Gawd's sake! Pretend you're filming her but don't.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm Not Getting Any Younger

As a seasoned hypochondriac, it's about time I go to see my doctor. Except my doctor, Dr H, isn't there any more. He left a couple of weeks ago.

While I'm waiting for a new GP to be assigned to my body and mind, I get to see one of the others at the practice. Dr C.

I liked Dr H. And I like Dr C. I've seen her before on one of the weeks Dr H was off with stress from having to see me every few days.

My current complaint is very strange.

I get these aches, you see. On a Monday night when I lie down in bed I get these aches going down my inner thighs. They go down my inner calves, too. It's like the veins are filling up with blood. I panic and the aches go down my arms. Then I get twinges in my chest. I worry Betty and keep her awake. Then I fall asleep.

Dr C asks me to get on the couch. I can leave my pants on.

She checks the circulation in my legs. It's excellent. No varicose veins, either.

She asks me to stand, holds my inner thigh and asks me to cough. I've got a little reflux in the thigh vein. Nothing to worry about though.

She asks me if I do any unusual activities on a Sunday. Horse riding, for example?

I say I don't ride a horse.

"Do I stand a lot on a Sunday?"

"No. I don't stand a lot ever."

"Why on a Monday evening? The meds you take can do funny things to the muscles. But if it was your meds it would happen all the time, not just on a Monday."

I say I drink alcohol at weekends and not during the week. Maybe it's a reaction to my body not having alcohol after the weekend. A craving manifesting itself in the troubled veins of my inner thighs.

Instead of advising me to drink every day, you know what she said?

"Maybe give up the alcohol for a couple of weekends. If you're ok on the Monday you know it's that. Then you can decide what to do in the future. It's up to you."

So I put up with a bit of discomfort, knowing it's not going to kill me. Or I forgo one of life's pleasures and watch Betty get merry at the weekend.

What would you do?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Your Health, Ma'am

My mum's decorating. The room doesn't need decorating but it's being done nonetheless. On Saturday she gave me a mug she found at the back of the heavy cabinet they had to move. She'd bought one mug each for me and my sister back in 1977.

"To Commemorate the Silver Jubilee of H.M. QUEEN ELIZABETH II 1952 - 1977" it says on the side. And on the back there's a picture of the handsome Duke.

"Where's the safety pin?" I said.

We're not supposed to drink out of it. We're supposed to keep it safe. I said to Betty that maybe my mum thinks this could be the ultimate incentive for us to start a family. Because things like this should be passed down from generation to generation. It is an heirloom.

No mum, it's not going to work. In our dotage we will drive down to some godforsaken market town. It will be pissing with rain and we will jostle our way to the front of the queue to be seen by the current mug expert on the Old Tat Roadshow. He'll say "this is strictly off-camera" but he'll give us "fuck all for the useless piece of shit". Then we can go home and start drinking from it, toasting the Queen and her amazing longevity.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What A Lovely Spread, Missus

"It's not about Great Britain. It's about Great Butter."

That's Johnny Rotten on the current Country Life advert.

"The king is gone but he's not forgotten
This is the story of Johnny Rotten"

That's Neil Young on Johnny Rotten, of course.

Rotten was always the first choice for the Country Life campaign. Butter producers had always been after the ex-punk to be the voice and face of their various spreads. "Anchor In The UK" could have been on our screens back in 2005 if it wasn't for Johnny turning up his nose.

The "Great Butter" ad had been hanging round the offices of advertising agency Batchelor Scuppa Coop since the height of punk. The problem was in the 70s Britain was still seen as "Great" by the majority of the public. And back then the majority of the public ate real butter stored in larders. Fridges, like automatic washing machines, didn't really take off 'til the third year of Thatcher. Hers was a white goods revolution.

Minnie Stroney, director of Barchelor Scuppa Coop takes up the Great Butter story.

"We wanted a punk. We wanted someone who personified a Britain our grandparents wouldn't recognise. No more cap doffing. No respect for embarrassing traditions. And Johnny was always our number one."

The project was put on the back burner 'til Johnny's public rebirth in the first decade of the 21st century. But at first Johnny refused.

"At first Johnny refused. This was during the Filthy Lucre Tour. He said he could only be seen to be selling out one way at a time. But we thought the time was right. So we considered different options. We got in touch with Ade Edmondson. He couldn't do it as he is contracted solely to Peperami 'til 2034. We tried Jimmy Pursey. But he was busy doing the voiceover for a Sky Arts documentary on interpretive dance and didn't want to compromise."

But this year Johnny relented.

"This year, however, Johnny relented. The Country Life guys were ecstatic. Johnny is so much the right man for the butter demographic. There's the middle aged man who likes the real thing on his toast and loves Johnny's rebellious youth. Then there's the grandmother who hasn't stopped buying butter through the years and adores Johnny from I'm A Celebrity. We think this campaign will be more of a success than the old famous one."

"It's Country Life
It's English, too
From the cows to the dairy
From the dairy out to you."

"That was a great ad. But it was from a bygone age. The Englishness of the product was stressed as a merit, a source of pride, as opposed to New Zealand butter or Irish butter. People nowadays don't care where things come from. Today it's all about quality and price. And Country Life has both."

"It's not about Great Britain. It's about Great Butter."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Professor Plum

Dead-eye Dick Dawkins is at it again. Dick and his humanist disciples are going to advertise on our bendy buses.

"There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Let's just break that down, shall we?

"There's probably no God."
Yes, this is the best that science can come up with. "Probably". Science does not prove that there wasn't a creator. So it's basically a matter of belief or non-belief.

"Now stop worrying".
Just a minute. Who's doing the worrying?
Believers aren't worrying about whether there's a God.
Non-believers aren't worrying about whether there's a God.

"and enjoy your life."
If you're the sort of person who spends a lot of your time worrying whether there's a God, you sound like you've got a masochistic streak. So maybe you're the sort of person who enjoys this worrying.

Both the British Humanist Association and the Methodist Church believe the campaign will make people think.

It makes me think the £36,000 raised for the advertising would be better spent alleviating suffering somewhere.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Odd Bins

I'm looking out for cases of soft paternalism: "a political philosophy that believes the state can help you make the choices you would make for yourself — if only you had the strength of will and the sharpness of mind" according to the boffins at Wikipedia. The soft paternalism king is Richard Thaler, guru to Barack Obama and David Cameron.

Today I saw the Drinkaware Trust's new advert at the station.

"I see you like to recycle...(wow you drink a lot)". Cue a recycling bin full of booze bottles.

Ever since we've started leaving our bottles out to be recycled, I've checked out other people's bins on the way to work. I wrongly associate a few empty spirits bottles with an alcoholic household. Wrongly, as I know from my dad's drinking that the experienced alcoholic isn't going to broadcast to the world what he or she gets up to in private.

Our bin is collected once a week and to the casual observer we are just about drinking within the government guidelines for the weekly consumption of alcohol for two adults who just drink at home.

But who honestly spreads the quantity of drink they consume equally over a week? Not us, that's for certain. What you see there, my friend, is a merry old time for two or a lost weekend for one.

I'm not sure this campaign is going to have the desired effect. I couldn't care less if my neighbours think I overdo it on the old sauce. Or in fact if they think I don't drink enough. Or even if they think I drink just the right amount. And I'm not going to walk out my front door and look in my recycling bin and think "blow me, I must have enjoyed myself last week."

Besides, the bins for our cans have lids on. So what do your Stella drinkers do? How on earth are they going to control their drinking?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Remember Betty's post about Judith O'Reilly's appearance on Richard and Judy?

Last night I wondered out of curiosity how her blog was getting on and, bugger me, it looks like Judith's replied here.

So, sod it, here's an open letter back to Judith.

Dear Judith

"Penpals"? Well actually you've hit it on the head. That is what blogging is about, making friends, finding things in common, having a laugh together. Just like penpals, except better, more immediate. Not a few up-themselves authors and scores of their lessers sucking up. We are all equals.

It's about finding like minds in a lonely world. A place to let off steam about all sorts of things. An ongoing dialogue over years. Yes, years.

You tell us bloggers to "Walk the walk. Blog the blog. Write your own fucking book."

I appreciate your advice to go out there and do it, Judith, but what makes you think that if I were to get a book published it wouldn't be shit? I think it would be shit. I don't want to foist shit on the public. We've all got enough of it to deal with.

There is so much shit in the world and we are absolutely bombarded with it day after day. Fucking so-called "talent" shows, fucking relocation programmes on the telly. And the bookshops! The bookshops are saturated with shit. I turn my head in a fucking bookshop and I see shelves of "real life" bollocks written by untalented, boring cunts.

I came across your rant by accident, Judith. My world of blogging is worlds apart from yours. You are a journalist who has used your blog to try out material for a book, aiming to make money. I blog to have a laugh with my friends. Who, by the way, have a fuck of a lot more raw writing talent than 99% of published "real life" authors. Politicians, journalists, footballers, reality tv "stars", comedians, glamour models, Jeremy fucking Clarkson, fuck off the lot of you!

Love Geoff

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Classified Results

The Tremeloes 5 Small Faces 3

McCain 0 Obama 1

Russell Brand 4 David Mitchell 1

Boring Job Security 5 Sexy Job Insecurity 0

Real, Honest Bloggers 5 Fake Plagiarists 0 (see Donn's post)

Team Britain Olympic Celebrations 1 England Rugby "World" Cup Celebrations 0

The Smell Of The Bloke On The Train's Breakfast Banana 0 The Smell Of The Bloke On The Train's Breakfast Orange 5

The Dream Of A Decent Personal Pension 0 The Dream Of A Decent State Pension 0

Holier Than Thou Dental Hygienists 0 Uncritical Dentists 4

Zola 4 Curbishley 2

Captain Beefheart 4 Seasick Steve 1

Monday, October 13, 2008

Questions For Our (TV) Times

1. Why is Stephen Fry on absolutely everything? Even Never Mind The Buzzcocks. He is not a fan of pop music. You might as well have Vicus on there.

2. Why on earth was Will Young on Question Time? Did anybody see it? Does anybody watch Question Time any more? I haven't seen it for years.

3. How is competition better for the armchair football fan? Setanta costs £12.99 a month in addition to the cost of Sky Sports. All for a handful of West Ham matches a season and a few shite England away fixtures.

4. Why are they killing off Liam in Corrie? Betty's in love with him and I love doing really crap impressions of him to wind her up.

5. Why aren't they killing off Molly's Auntie Pam in Corrie instead? She is the most gut-wrenchingly annoying character ever to appear in the soap.

6. What's the big fuss about Seasick Steve? And why did Jools book the support band on Steve's tour? And what's happened to the *ethnic* bands he used to have on Later? And will Jools dig up his Big Band to support that silly old sweat bucket Tom Jones this week?

7. Why is Tom Wilkinson big in America? He is currently in the excellent John Adams on More 4. Did the Americans see him in The Full Monty and think he looked American?

8. What's happened to Craig Cash? Formerly writing contributor to Mrs Merton, The Fast Show, The Royle Family and Early Doors. Some truly great writing there until the unbelievably mawkish Royle Family grand finale. And now Sunshine which is just unbearably wet. What happened, Craig?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Don't Want A Holiday In The Sun....

In these troubled times, I have to take vicarious pleasures, mainly from my mum's experiences on her holidays.

Last week she went on a cruise of the Greek Islands. Kind of island hopping for the financially secure retired working class lucky enough to be born at the right time to have company pensions. Not, then, your Lonely Planet set.

"I've had a cold all week so I've had to struggle through each day. It poured down in Istanbul. We went to a massive market where there were nothing but jewellery stalls. You'd hate it, Geoff. The Greek islands were lovely, especially the last one, Santorini. You can go to the top of the island by donkey or cable car. I was too nervous. Our Australian friends who we met on board took the cable car and had to wait an hour to get the cable car back down to the harbour. The staff on the ship were ok, but they weren't as caring as staff we've had on previous cruises. That's the trouble nowadays, there isn't the same level of care you used to get. We had a four berth cabin so it was very comfortable though I didn't get much sleep what with the cold. The food on board was very average. We've had better. The journey back was a bit of a disaster. The cab to the airport that your step dad booked online didn't turn up and we had to book another cab, sharing with the Australian couple. It cost us 93 euros! Then when we got to the airport they would let us take our brandy on board. All because it wasn't bought in the airport! Your step dad was furious, I thought he was going to hit the bloke who confiscated our brandy. He was swearing at him and saying how the Greeks are thieves. Then we got on the plane and I got my usual aisle seat and a toddler was sitting behind me constantly kicking the back of my seat. I was furious. I turned to your step dad and said in a loud voice, "This toddler behind me is kicking my seat!" And you know what his mother said? She said she couldn't control him. She said have I ever tried to control a child of this age? I was furious. I could have smashed her face in, the four eyed cow."

Last night I discovered a way of experiencing that holiday feeling in the comfort of my own bathroom. It will come in handy in the forthcoming years of the 21st century depression.

As you run your bath, step into it. Close your eyes and walk on the spot, splish splashing the water. It will feel as if you are walking in the shallow water of the sea on a tropical island. And the rushing water from the taps will sound like lapping waves.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Leon Rosselson: A Radical Richard Stilgoe

Yesterday we saw the folk music episode of the great 70s music history series All You Need Is Love. Full of boring old scrote Pete Seeger talking about his gay old times with Woody Guthrie and the unmitigated joys of protest singing, Leonard Cohen's enigmatic words (which to me sound better spoken without that awful picky guitar accompaniment) and Joan Baez being Joan Baez.

Then they show a clip of Leon Rosselson playing his song.

"Who's Leon Rosselson?" I hear you cry.

Now then, don't you know Leon Rosselson?

An English songwriter and writer of children's books, he sang satirical songs on That Was The Week That Was. A kind of radical Richard Stilgoe, then. Twat face Billy Bragg took Rosselson's The World Turned Upside Down into the charts in 1985. The lower echelons of the charts, I presume.

Leon's song featured on the programme isn't satirical but it is bitingly radical.

Here's the words to the first verse and chorus. Imagine a young man with big glasses and a bobbly jumper, sitting down with an acoustic guitar, a voice like Mrs Mopp (according to Betty).

Take it away, Leon. Deep breath as you've got a lot to fit in. OK? No, wait. Are you sure? This is a bloody long verse. You are ready? Go, Leon, go!

If prime ministers and advertising executives, royal personages and bank managers' wives, had to live out their lives in dank rooms, blinded by smoke and the foul air of sewers, grot on the walls and rats in the cellars, in rows of dung (citation needed) houses like mouldering tombs, had to bring up their children and watch them grow, in a wasteland of dead streets where nothing will grow...

Bloody hell, that was a good'un. Now for the chorus. Slower, deeper and more meaningful, now. Pause between lines.

Buttons would be pressed, rules would be broken, strings would be pulled, magic words spoken, invisible fingers would mould palaces of gold.

It's National Poetry Day tomorrow. Asked to explain her choice of Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman, Geri Halliwell says "It's pure girl power." What the fuck?

Scribble Leon's song at your place of work tomorrow! Fight the powers that be!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

I've never before tried to collate them. I've probably forgotten a few but I remember where I saw each and every one of those who I remember.

Chance sightings of people in the public eye. Don't you just love it when it happens? And don't you think later of the things you would have asked them if you'd only had the guts to go up and speak to them?

Here's a couple of lists of people I've seen, where I've seen them and what I wished I'd asked them...


1. Peter Stringfellow, walking towards Covent Garden. "I'm guessing you're wearing tight leopard-print pants. You are, aren't you?"

2. Frank Skinner, walking towards Covent Garden. "As you delight in telling your audience about your love for it, do you also talk to your priest about anal sex with the ladies? If so, does he approve of it as a contraceptive method?"

3. Martin Fry, walking towards Covent Garden. "Do you think you are able to influence events psychically? If not, why when I bought Poison Arrow, on the very same day did my dad leave home to live with a tart?"

4. Dennis Skinner, crossing the road at Trafalgar Square. "You're the Beast of Bolsover. Why don't you rip Margaret Thatcher's neck open and do us all a favour?"

5. Lenny Henry, filming a scene under Charing Cross Station. "How can you laugh when people are starving?"

6. Geoffrey Palmer, shopping in Tesco's. "Bit of a cock-up on the catering front?"

7. Robbie Williams, crossing the road at Trafalgar Square. "Will you have your song Angels played at your funeral?"

8. Anthony Howard, walking towards The Strand. "Why should I take you more seriously than Kermit?"

9. Matthew Kelly, in a health food shop in Theobalds Road. "If you're Game For A Laugh, why not try the aduki bean pie?"

10. Boris Johnson, cycling towards Whitehall, twice! "Why don't you wear a helmet, twat head?"

11. Jack Straw, walking extremely quickly towards Whitehall. "Why did you allow Pinochet to return to Chile?"

12. Kevin Kennedy, walking past my office. "How's the music career going, Kev?"


1. Trevor MacDonald, in the National Gallery. "What's it like to share a few bongs with the nation every night?"

2. David Hepworth & Mark Ellen, standing around, arms crossed, wearing suits with orange shirts, in Soho. "If there's a good face for radio, is there a good voice for print?"

3. Roy Wood, eating a curry in the West Midlands. "Do you really wish it could be Christmas every day? You'd prefer roast turkey to a nice chicken dansak?"

4. Pete Townshend, walking the streets in Cambridge. "Still not dead, Pete?"

5. Christopher Quinten, wearing a silver bomber jacket at the Wimbledon tennis championships. "I'm guessing you're wearing tight leopard-print pants. You are, aren't you?"

6. John Peel, at a Fall gig in Cambridge. "Why am I not surprised you're here?"

7. Lemmy, playing Space Invaders of a venue's upstairs bar whilst NWOBHM band More rock the place's foundations. "Why don't you shoot them with the pus from your boils?"

8. Paul Shane, eating a "chicken tikka masala" in Llandudno. "Go on, Paul. Do You've Lost That Loving Feeling. Please? Pretty, pretty please?

9. George Melly, waiting for a train at Diss railway station. "Can I try your hat on?"

10. Vini Reilly, taking twenty minutes to order a large, crusty baguette and a mountain of cress in a cafe in Manchester. "Do you want a hand with that?"

11. Jim Davidson, telling jokes to his mates, outside a pub in Bexley. "Do you know why the BBC have over the years spent part of our licence fee keeping a known racist and homophobe in the lap of luxury?"

12. Ken Livingstone, not seen but heard in a Tottenham Court Road cinema. "What names did you give your newts?"

13. Dermot O'Leary, walking in Soho. "I've got no personality. Can you tell me how I can become famous?"

14. Bob Geldof, fingering and eating fruit from an outdoor greengrocer's stall in Faversham, accompanied by his lovely young family. "How's the music career going, Bob?"

15. Paul Gambaccini, in the cafe of the NFT. "Was Limahl ever too shy?"

You will notice that every single one of them is male. I did once see an actress who had a minor role in Coronation Street in a queue for jacket potatoes but I can't remember her name.

Why do I not see famous women? Are they better at disguising themselves in public?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Howe Do Squire?

I've been on my sickbed and been listening to The Ultimate Yes. Prog Man would be proud of me.

It's a great primer for a great band. Except, of course, for the deeply shit Trevor Horn/Trevor Rabin stuff.

Can anybody tell me why Trevor Horn is so lauded?

You probably know by now my historical association with Yes. My teenage years were dominated by them. I formed school friendships on the basis that those spotty boffins were fans of the band. I wonder how many of those old chums supported Yes through the 80s?

Then came a new wave of pub rock. Graham Parker and The Rumour, Dire Straits, Elvis Costello, Any Trouble. These were my new kings. Skinny white men with balding pates. Yes were consigned to the back burner until...

A few years ago I saw Prog Man wearing a Yes t-shirt. All those teenage yearnings for complicated guitar work and nonsensical lyrics came flooding back. I fell back in love with Jon Anderson's Lancastrian eunuch burr, Steve Howe's flights of fancy, and Chris Squire's liquid bass.

Yes were the soundtrack to my teenage years. Everybody's got one band or artist. Who were yours? Were there others at your school with similar tastes? Did you bond with them? Or were you an individual, piping up for your own personal Be Bop Deluxe or Al Stewart? And how do you feel about them now? Did you go off them or have you stayed true to the cause?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Prog Man

We know him as "Prog Man". He wears a different t-shirt every Saturday. Usually a prog band tour t-shirt. Though I have seen him wear a Who t-shirt (not prog) and a Doctor Who t-shirt. He is always alone.

On Saturday I noticed he was wearing a Jethro Tull Tour 2002 t-shirt.

"Mmmm, Jethro Tull," I thought.

"Come on," I said to Betty. "We're going to HMV to buy Jethro Tull's Greatest Hits."

"Just because you've seen Prog Man wearing a Jethro Tull t-shirt?" she said. "It's not going to be Yes all over again, is it?"

Living In The Past is a compilation of the Tull's early stuff. It's very good except for the two long live jams in the middle. What was it about the early 70s and tedious jams? We were listening to the double CD of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass the weekend before last. The extra tracks on the end are extended jams. Studio jams maybe, but jams none the less.

They should take a hint from Status Quo. Yes, Status Quo. The Best Of The Early Years by the Quo is jam-free. It's a whole bunch of classic pop songs, several even resembling the greatness of the early Bee Gees. The reviewer on Amazon is of the opinion that some of the tracks "are on a par with many tracks on Love's classic Forever Changes album."

High praise, indeed.

If you haven't got all three of these, your collection is not complete.

Just don't forget to kick out the jams.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

No Sweat, Man

Ever since giving up using antiperspirants some years ago after a rather nasty stickiness under my right armpit developed, I've experimented with different types of "natural" deodorants.

I used Trust for a few years. You put it on once every five days and you "trust" it to work. It does to a certain extent. In times of stress at work, however, you can just sense the body odour breaking through.

I've tried PitRok, Bionsen, Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Roll On and Body Shop For Men. Once again, at times of stress they all let you down. The other people in my jury group probably still remember me as "the nervous-looking guy who smelt of fresh sweat. Not revoltingly unpleasant but he really could have done something about it".

Back when I was becoming a meat eater again after years of vegetarianism, I had a problem with chicken. In those early days of meat-eating, chicken made my face muscles twitch. I was getting used to a different kind of protein and my body was reacting appropriately. Something similar happened to me with antiperspirants.

I tried antiperspirants on a regular basis, about once every three months. Each time I got a very unpleasant reaction, a dragging ache emanating from the armpit area. The ache kept me awake and I always went back to my more "natural" deodorants after a few days.

Recently my stress levels have risen again and I've been scared of going near people. This time I thought "fuck it, either I go to Lush and stink out the whole of the office or I bite the bullet and force my pathetic body to accept antiperspirants. I did it with fucking chicken, surely a grown man can handle a bit of discomfort for a while."

So I bought a jar of Arrid Cream.

"Safely checks problem perspiration"
"Unperfumed and non-irritating"
"Will not stain or harm clothing"
"Keeps you fresh all day long"

"Use every day to be sure you are safe from perspiration problems, safe from odour. Apply under arms. Rub in well. Wipe off excess."

And guess what? After a few days discomfort I have broken through the barrier and my body is accepting the cream with no side effects. I feel so confident. I can go into meetings, bust some balls, lean over women's shoulders to explain spreadsheets, hug sales staff when they make a deal, punch the air when profits are up, abseil, build bricks above my head, shoot paintball and get the boss in a headlock as we role play without fear of alienating myself because of poor personal hygiene.

Fuck, yeah! Ain't life great?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rebus And Weep

Ian Rankin's new novel is out now in hardback and audio.

I've never read anything by him but he's always seemed like a nice bloke. I'm sure he'd say the same about me if I'd been on Newsnight Review.

Here's the publicity shot for the book.

There's a poster containing this picture at Charing Cross station.

It's a bit disconcerting.

Half of his face is in darkness.

He seems to be tightly clutching his ear between two fingers.


What is he after?

Dark, depraved ear sex?

Or readers?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Dignity Of Labour

Thinking about my dad and his union exploits I'm reminded of one of his sayings which has been more than apt for me this year.

"Give us the tools and we'll do the job."

It can be said when you've got the right tools and you're whistling away as you work.

Or it can be said pleadingly, i.e. "Please give me the right tools or I'm going to go stark raving bonkers!"

Whichever way it's said it's so much more human than the saying "A bad workman always blames his tools."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Blog Kills Fascists

Watching Soul Brother Number Two, Wilson Pickett, on the weird and wonderful series All You Need Is Love: The Story of Popular Music, I got to thinking about other musical artists and songs with names and titles associated with unions.

There's the Flying Pickets.

There's Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers

There's Gary Puckett (b. Pickett?) and the Union Gap.

There's There Is Power In A Union by Billy Bragg.

There's Union City Blue by Blondie.

There's Part of the Union by the Strawbs.

My dad was a union man (at a non-union firm). He loved the Strawbs song as he loved his solidarity with his imaginary comrades. But were the band taking the piss? "The sight of my card makes me some kind of superman"?

Strawbs. True socialists or piss-taking wankers? What do you think?

Friday, September 19, 2008

No More Cheese At Bedtime

The other night at an unspecified time, I was asleep and Betty was awake. She has since said I said something. The something I apparently said was...

"Cher........and Jane................shagging."

I said it in a hoarse whisper.

Why I said it, I've no idea. I know Cher of course, but I've never found her attractive. Especially not the raunchy version. And as for Jane...

We've recently been watching the Prime Suspect box set. Maybe it's Jane Tennison, otherwise known as everybody's favourite older woman, Helen Mirren.

Yes, I'm warming to this now. But Cher?

I once made up a piss poor joke -

Did you hear about the time Cher met her Stars In Their Eyes impersonator?

It was Cher and Cher-alike.

Boom boom.

But Cher in a lesbian tryst with the lovely Helen?

My dreams are deceiving me.