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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Horror! Oh, The Horror!

I'm not really much of a fan of modern horror films but Eden Lake seemed like it might be a laugh. And it was.

A middle class twat and his trusting teacher girlfriend go off in his gas guzzling Land Rover to experience nature in the middle of a forest in the English Midlands. Sat nav gets them there, his wanky macho scuba equipment and all.

Little do they know that the local village is home to nasty wonderfully stereotypical nightmare working class scum whose children are rampaging feral youths led by an absolute psychopath.

This is modern Britain, exactly why we're afraid to leave the sanctuary of our homes and cars.


Watching the first of BBC's new Tess of the D'Urbervilles production I swore blind that the villain Alec D'Urberville was too young and too clean shaven. He should be 42 years old, evil-looking, with a moustache, I thought.

I studied the book for A-level all those years ago. I remember reading it in a park in Shanklin, Isle of Wight, with my top off in the sun, hoping to draw admiring glances at my physique and intellect. None were forthcoming, of course.

A little internet research tells me that Alec was 24. Presumably not moustachioed, either.

I don't trust my memory.

Alec D'Urberville

Monday, September 15, 2008

Poetry, Please!

BBC1's The One Show has a new website. And the website has a couple of blogs. One called The Beauty And The Beast where you can read all about Christine's and Adrian's love lives.

I'm joking.

But there is a Poetry Corner where ordinary members of the public can submit poems on the theme of "My Passion" to literary giants Gyles Brandreth and Roger McGough. If they like your poem, they'll put it on the blog and if they really like it a lot it may well be read out on the show.

My passion is, of course, Gyles Brandreth. And this is my ode to the great man...

O Gyles Brandreth
You've smelly breath
Of that I have no doubt

Cos when you speak
You spring a leak
And all this shit comes out

Or maybe I should submit my Liverpool Poets poem from October last year...

If it wasn't for the success of the Fab Four
The Liverpool Poets would be dead poor
And instead of publishing yet another edition
McGough would be dying from malnutrition

Or what about a poem rhyming Christine Bleakley and beating on the bottom with a Woman's Weekly?

Any others?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Amy

Some time ago I vowed never to give my opinion of Amy Winehouse's music again. Let's just say some people love it and some find her recordings as bland as Red Leicester cheese and her live performances as aurally painful as a wailing foghorn.

Why not get an opinion from an expert? Sylvia Young, head teacher of the Sylvia Young theatre school says, "I've always said she's a cross between a young Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald."

Sylvia may be on to something. If you were to perform a scientific experiment and fuse two of the greatest distinctive voices of all time, who knows what kind of mess you may achieve?

Or, of course, it could sound like genius.

The jury is still out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Poison Ivy

The answer to the previous post was Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. But everywhere looks the same in my photos so it could have been anywhere on the British coast.


It's my sister's 40th birthday in a couple of months. She's been to The Ivy before and she wants to go again.

We don't want to go. Betty says Rod Stewart takes his daughters' boyfriends there and grills them (ouch!). If they like football they're acceptable.

I don't want to be in the same room as Rod Stewart. I've eaten in the same rooms as Roy Wood and Paul Shane. That's enough of the bright lights for me. Besides, those were bog standard curry houses where I felt at home. I wouldn't feel at home in The Ivy, tarted up in expensive new clothes and spending loadsamoney on sausage and mash or whatever shit they serve up.

I don't know what's wrong with our local Chinese. That's where we usually go. 40 isn't such a special number. Life begins at 40? Bollocks, does it! Nothing changes whatsoever. There are no landmark ages. 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140? Who gives a bollock?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Grey Skies, Grey Seas

Where's this? Bet you can't guess.

We go away and I take a few photos. We don't see the sun. That's how it's been this year, a couple of nice days all summer.

To get to the place above I drive for an hour and a half, along windy roads, keeping a wary eye on the oncoming traffic.

We get out of the car, take a deep breath and walk. The sea air calms me down. I love the views. We walk for a couple of hours, take a few photos. They're all as shit as the one above.

Then it's back in the car for a stressful hour and a half drive back to where we're staying. The views and the fresh air are forgotten as my daily afternoon slump takes hold and I'm desperately trying to concentrate on not hitting another car. I hate driving so much but how else do you get to the places you want to go, the places of peace and oneness with nature?

The next day it pisses down and I think "fuck it" and drive home along busy motorways, a sleepy automaton on auto-pilot.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

There's Something About Mary

Dr Roger Tackley has retired from his £120,000 per year job as a consultant anaesthetist and opened his own hairdressing salon.

He left the NHS because he was frustrated with all the red tape.

Apparently Roger, 56, and his team of stylists specialise in futuristic hair styles.

How far in the future it remains to be seen.


10cc were once described by Garry Bushell as "The Jewish Beatles", precursors to the "Oi Vey!" movement featuring bands such as The No Foreskins.

10cc is the volume of semen produced by the average human male in one ejaculation. I say the average male because there are exceptions to the rule. It is rumoured that Jeremy Clarkson's emissions can only be measured in a quart pot. 10cc, for Clarkson, are a "small, insignificant band". I do not agree.

The following is a list of my ten favourite 10cc tracks. Kek is compiling our favourites, not to find the most popular 10cc track, but as a much more interesting project. Everybody's got an opinion on 10cc, haven't they?

Show us yours!


1. I'm Not In Love
2. Donna
3. Rubber Bullets
4. Une Nuit A Paris
5. Silly Love
6. The Wall Street Shuffle
7. Art For Art's Sake
8. Somewhere In Hollywood
9. The Worst Band In The World
10. I'm Mandy Fly Me


We're off tomorrow for the week. A minute hole in the blogosphere will be created.

See you soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Barry Norman

Vote here for the one film you'd wish to share with future generations.

There are so many films I want to share as I'm such a caring, sharing kinda guy. I can't choose one, not even from such a wonderful list chosen by the BFI's selection of celebrities.

(Bollocks to Hitchcock and yes, Matt Lucas, Billy Elliot really is the best film ever made. You're so right!)

I'm having trouble here, but from the list supplied four stand out to me.

The Battle Of Algiers

Once Upon A Time In America

A Matter Of Life And Death

Tokyo Story

But which of these four would I gift to our children's children?

Can you help me out here? I want to make someone happy.

By the way, Valerie and her Week of Wonders is nominated by Sigur Ros, the only indie musicians asked. Why not The Pigeon Detectives?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Mike Read's Pop Quiz

Our Saturday evenings have taken an exciting new turn for the better recently. At 6 p.m. every Saturday on Red TV (Sky channel 186) we tune in to Mike Read's Pop Quiz. This is a new version of Mike's old BBC show, featuring two teams of three. The contestants are not pop stars like in the old days, though. They're members of the public with varying degrees of knowledge about the history of pop music.

We missed the first few episodes but were soon hooked on the extremely amateurish production, muffled sound and chronically embarrassing credits featuring Danny Devito, Mark Knopfler and a clowned-up Elton John.

The questions range from the easy to the impossible. The impossible include clips of 1950s stars playing chicken in a basket shows in the 1990s. Obscure doo wop is not my forte.

One of our favourite rounds is the Hangman Round. And it was the Hangman Round a few weeks ago which seems to have done for Mike's show. I think he's given up as the last few weeks the programme has either been cancelled or they've shown repeats of earlier shows.

What follows is a transcript of the show that destroyed one of a generation's greatest deejays. I have not transcribed the whole round, just the pertinent parts. The evil team named themselves Scallywags. And they certainly were...

Mike closes the previous round. The back left hand side of his "hair" is sticking up alarmingly.

MIKE READ: ...there it is, yes, Cliff Richard and Carrie. So two points there...We head onto the Hangman Round now...So, Scallywags, would you like to pick a letter for the first act/artist/singer, male, female, could be anything?

SCALLYWAGS: S for syrup.

MIKE READ: S. OK, well, there we are. Some S's in there. A whole bunch of S's.


MIKE READ: ...as we go into number 3. Come on Scallywags, er, pick a letter this time. I'm sure you can actually balance this out nicely. What letter are you going for first? If you pick one letter in here it might give you a lot of help.

SCALLYWAGS: Er, I'll have a W for wig, please.

MIKE READ: A W! No, there is no W but always worth going for a crazy letter. No W.


MIKE READ: ...let's see if you can do it with this next one as well. Er, we'll let you go off first this time, so if you want to pick a letter for the last Hangman?

SCALLYWAGS: Er, can I have a haitch for, er, hairpiece?

MIKE READ: OK, an H. An H, OK...

MIKE READ: ...No H's.