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.