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?