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.