The inaugrual Geoff & Betty mixtape. We found Mixwit via Boggins whose own mixtape is very enjoyable.
Mixwit is a great idea but doomed to failure as it relies on the mp3s being permanently available on the internet. Of course the buggers are always disappearing so that in time there'll be nothing left on this tape. There will be the sound of silence which is probably how it should be.
p.s. If any of the songs are no longer there, skip till the next one.
I'm feeling a bit sensitive about my belly. It's grown over the last few months and I've received three comments about it recently. The last one was "You've got a real belly now, haven't you Geoff?"
"I've always had a belly."
"Not a noticeable one. It's a real belly now."
My spirits are not helped as I watch the disappearing back of an ex-friend as he runs past me. We used to play tennis together. Now he runs marathons like a fucking gazelle and here I am plodding along with my increasing waistband.
I think it's down to the handful of nuts I have with my breakfast. I'm cutting out the nuts. I'm sure that'll do the trick.
Highlights of the excellent Tony Hancock/Joan Le Mesurier docu drama included the three uses of the "c" word. Especially Tony's drunken "Kent! What am I fucking doing in Kent? Kent! You are a cunt!"
I can relate to that. Kent is one hell of a cunt, as is Ken Stott's and my middle aged spread. But I've got a few years on him and should be able to lose it.
I never got Hancock's humour, but I got his misery. But wasn't the humour in the misery? Yes, but it wasn't funny. You had to be there, I suppose.
The electricity meter reader today had some words of wisdom.
"My kids are very political. I tell them politics doesn't make any difference. It's scientists who make the world we live in. They're the ones who change things."
He'll eventually be out of work due to advancing technology and the widespread use of smart meters.
Did you hear about the gig where Charley Pride supported The Fall?
No? Bloody sod you, then.
Whenever I turn the telly on in the evenings nowadays, I always seem to get this image...
...as if it's there in the box, breathing through the air vents, lying in wait for me.
It disturbs me in a way I can't describe. Something to do with mortality and stifling dreams. A complete lack of joy. Such a long, pointless existence which even death cannot relieve. A look in the mirror that says "kill me now and kill me painfully so that at least I can feel something for once in my life."
The Tory leader of our council is going all green. He's pictured in the latest council magazine wearing a green tie. There's another picture of him further into the magazine wearing a suit and open-necked shirt, just like Davey Cameron. But the green tie made the biggest impression on me.
The Tories have kept our increase in Council Tax below the rate of inflation for the second year running. They've been able to do this thanks to the following...
1. They're axing meals on wheels for the 420 people who use the service. Hot meals delivered to those in need are being replaced by a choice of frozen meals (presumably to be stored in those large chest freezers that the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society have in their spacious kitchens or utility rooms). Not only will the recipients have a "bigger menu choice and better value for money", they will have "added freedom when it comes to deciding what time to eat." Those who need help cooking their meals will, of course, be able to read detailed cooking instructions on the packaging. And if they can't open a bag of frozen peas and boil some water to go some way to their five fruit and veg a day, well, isn't that what families and neighbours are for?
2. "Our improved recycling service means that residents in most houses and maisonettes in the Borough will have their recycling collected every week. As there will be less waste (what's left) this will be collected fortnightly." We're being given new bins to store our reduced amount of waste. The trouble is, I don't really understand the logic. Why, because they will be collecting paper and glass and plastic bottles more regularly, should our unrecyclable waste be reduced? Unless we're not currently being good recyclers. But even a cursory glance at other people's bins on collection day will indicate that most of us are already doing what we can. And a collection once every other week of stinking rotting rubbish sticking out of the tops of bins is not going to be doing too much for our environment. It might please the local rats, though.
Nick's been making outstanding documentaries for years. But his last two films have been docu-dramas. And if you've been annoyed in the past by Nick's less than sexy voice or his less than sexy demeanour, please watch Ghosts and The Battle For Haditha because he is not seen or heard in these films.
Nick tells it like it is. There is no poncing about, no actors trying to find their characters by over-the-top acting in a Mike Leigh way. This is real.
The reality of the war against terrorism is clear in The Battle For Haditha. When your enemy is among the civilian population how do you react when one of your colleagues is blown up? A group of young men, ready and pumped up for revenge in a battle situation, hit out indiscriminately at the locals, killing innocent men, women and children, the only "enemy" they can see. The killing of innocents, of course, makes excellent propaganda for the insurgent recruiters, making sure the war on terror will never go away.
Corporal Ramirez is a young man, fucked up by all the death he's seen. He leads his men into battle. (He leads the mass murder).
The officers are pleased with the Marines' response. They'd acted as a finely honed fighting machine should.
"Royal Marines, outstanding job. Corporal Ramirez, you handled yourself like a true professional out there. I'm gonna promote you to Sergeant and I'm gonna recommend you for the Bronze Star. You kept your head in the Game and you kept your Marines alive."
There was a cover up. The official line was that it was a real battle, that the Marines fought back bravely and took the lives of many insurgents. Until the cover up was exposed and Ramirez and his colleagues were accused of murder.
It's the end of a very long era. Since the 70s, between the two of us we've bought Record Mirror, Melody Maker, Sounds, NME, New Music News, Smash Hits, The Face, Blitz, i-D, Flexipop, ZigZag, MixMag, Muzik(??), Select, Vox, Q, Mojo...
But for the past ten years it's been a strict diet of Uncut.
And recently it's become a chore, one in which, as a lazy person, I've not really participated. While Betty bites the bullet and reads all the chaff about the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and various other rock pensioners, I just skim through the new CD reviews and have a laugh at the letters written by extremely serious middle aged men who think The Hold Steady, for Christ's sake, are the future of music.
The Hold Steady - The Future Of Music
I saw she was struggling with the latest issue this week. Those golf and slippers dullards REM have apparently produced their "most straightforwardly enjoyable album since 1906's New Adventures In Hi-Fi."
"Just think of how much real reading you'll get done without all this shit," I said to her.
And I cancelled our subscription, just like that, two days before the next direct debit was due.
There is the worry that maybe we'll miss the odd gem like the re-issue of the brilliant White Noise album, An Electric Storm. But look, here it is on Uncut's website anyway.
So it's a final goodbye to the printed word. And a big hello to the 21st century.
On my last week off we went into London a couple of times. Saw a couple of Oscar-nominated films and bought lots of CDs and books in Fopp.
The initial plan for this week was to go into London a couple of times, too. Go to a couple of galleries, go to see a critically acclaimed German film.
But with so much to catch up on at home, what's the point?
We've seen the pictures before, we've seen critically acclaimed German films before (it'll be on the telly in a couple of years anyway).
So we're catching up on our reading, our blogging and our Sky+ backlog.
The Bloggies and The Observer List of 50 Most Powerful Blogs are just there really, of no relevance. They just confirm the very opposite way I see blogging - as a social meeting place for people with similar interests. Let them get on with their silly awards and rankings. When they've all given up I'll still be around doing it as long as my cyber friends are.
This week's telly viewing has been a mixed bag. BBC2's White documentary on a Bradford Working Men's Club which started out well but without any real historical context of working class culture ended up with a lot of miserable faces moaning about lack of community and feeling like a foreigner in your own country. The Enoch Powell documentary just added to the impression that this country is overpopulated and the ones that need to leave are the ones without white faces. It was all the more depressing because you just know that this is how a hell of a lot of people think.
Mad Men started slowly but picked up quickly as soon as characters from outside the workplace were introduced. Purely workplace-based comedies can work but dramas need outsiders to make more rounded characters.
The 1986 version of Northanger Abbey confirmed my theory that villains in Austen dress to the left. Peter Firth may have ended up the hero (ooh, missus!) but he was a villain all the way through it. Katherine Schlesinger dreamt her way through her part like a doped up Sarah Brightman - a fantastic performance. It was all very 1980s New Romantic with the look of a music video, gothic dream sequences and all.
And so to today. Betty said we've got a busy day. We've got to buy a couple of sandwiches and some bedding plants. And we've got to visit my old mum before falling asleep later this afternoon.
Congratulations are due to tv funnyman David Walliams on the completion of his swim from Bognor Regis (UK) to Bondi Beach (Australia).
The swim, which took 60 weeks non-stop, is the greatest feat of human endurance in history.
Walliams set off from Butlins Holiday Park, Bognor Regis, in January 2007. He was accompanied on his journey by Round-The-World Yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur who sailed alongside the courageous comedian, occasionally throwing bottles of water and healthy freshly caught sild into his path.
Walliams, who has now raised £30 billion for Sport Relief, was in good spirits as he crawled onto Bondi's famous golden sands.
When asked what he missed most during his time in the ocean, he winked and said "a nice cup of tea".
He was immediately mobbed by several be-thonged young ladies.
How can Goldfrapp get five stars when, to quote the reviewer, the lyrics were "only occasionally decipherable". Combining words and music is clearly a problem, in the opera house and musical theatre as well as at pop concerts, but to suggest that a song cycle was as good as it could be when you could hardly hear any of the words seems, well, odd.
We bought the new Goldfrapp album last week and it's the first of theirs that I've really liked (I need to reassess the others). It is excellent and if you want the lyrics, they're printed inside the CD booklet. Personally, I don't want the lyrics. I'm quite happy with the voice and the emotion.
To say understanding lyrics is all important is to declare war on pop music. This sentiment comes from the intellect which is an unwelcome intruder in the world of pop. It is not cool or clever. It is showing yourself up as a reactionary philistine.
I've had a bit of a result. My radio-listening work colleague has discovered Smooth Radio. Shit name, but the music's a damn sight better than Heart. A reasonable variety of pop from the past 50 years. Quite a bit of rubbish, agreed, but quite a bit that's good too. You just watch Heart's ratings plummet! The day it's buried I'll tramp the dirt down.
The problem is, Smooth's FM version gives a shit reception in our office. So I had a brainwave.
I've brought in my redundant digital radio for general office use. As long as they keep it locked to Smooth! And I can borrow the old office Radio/CD player to play my classical CDs in my lunch hour, thereby avoiding annoying Betty.
I am currently listening to Bach, calm in the knowledge I won't hear Take That 40 times today.
But Bach doesn't half go on, doesn't he? In fact I'm a bit fucking sick of him.
I've been listening to a couple of John Cale albums from the early 70s, the pop masterpiece Paris 1919 and the "I was classically trained, you know" The Academy in Peril. The latter has performed a miracle on me. It has got me into classical music.
But where do I start?
How I could have done with middle class parents, a mother who read Shakespeare and a father who listened to Bach, instead of being saddled with a mum who listened to Jimmy Young and a dad who read Wilbur Smith. I wish I'd had expensive private lessons to learn the cello instead of learning basic strumming guitar chords from my dad's long-haired factory worker friend.
My humble background is a cross to bear, but I don't let it get me down.
On Saturday I got a few classical CDs out of the library and I kind of like them. But I'm a newbie to all this and I don't know which are the cool composers, the majestic musicians or the commanding conductors. It's all a mystery to me.
Is Brahms the U2 of classical music? Is Bartok the James Blunt? Who do I adore and who do I avoid?
How on earth do I acquire taste with no guidelines, no classical "blood", no classical "ear"?
I'd be grateful for your suggestions, my learned friends.
In the days of the miners' strike, one day stood out. It was the day that Gary Yates went down in legend.
Gary was a big, confident lad and thought he could do everything himself. He had a loud mouth and boasted to his mates that he could see off a coach of scabs by himself.
So his mates let him have a go.
The night before his shift, Gary couldn't get to sleep. He was worried he would let his comrades down. By the time he got to his solo shift he was exhausted. He sat propped against the picket fence, couldn't keep his eyes open for a minute, said "oh, fuck it" and fell into a deep sleep. The scabs had a peaceful journey to work.
The incident is known in folklore as Gary "Fuck It" And The Union Nap.
In the days of the miners' strike, one day stood out. It was the day that Gary Bates went down in legend.
The lads were huddled around the brazier, taking the piss out of each other when Big Dave piped up that he was feeling hungry.
Gary Bates owed Big Dave a favour. Big Dave had stepped in to stop Gary from getting a beating a few nights previously.
"I'll get you something," said Gary to Big Dave.
So Gary went off to the bakers with instructions to get Dave "a nice cheese and tomato toastie."
Half an hour later, Gary handed Dave his food. Dave opened the wrapper.
"What the fuck's this?" he said.
The incident is known in folklore as Gary "Fuckwit" And The Union Bap.