Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Worst Songs Of The Decades

I'm signing off this year with a look back at the decades in shite. Shite has always been in the charts and always will be, annoying the fuck out of right thinking people everywhere. So without further ado:

The Sixties: Freddie & The Dreamers - You Were Made For Me.

This is Freddie at his most hyper, singing to a frightened dog on Blue Peter. There were thousands of frightened children at home, wishing he'd go away.



The Seventies: Don McLean - American Pie

Fuck me, does this go on! It was always on the radio at the time, clogging up the schedules. Imagine seeing this prick live and not wanting to kill him. Later Madonna covered it. Cunt.



The Eighties: Eurythmics - There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)

In the 80s this duo were responsible for a hell of a lot of violence in pubs when their songs came on the video jukebox. And this is their nadir. You can see Lennox at least once on every series of Later With Jools, dancing like a wanker to anything. She has no taste whatsoever.



The Nineties: Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around

My sister once met Marti Pellow in a pub. Instead of glassing him she only went and said "I really respect you." What the fuck? This song is actually decent when played by The Troggs or even REM but blue-eyed Scottish white soul really takes it in a whole other direction.



The Noughties: Bodyrockers - I Like The Way You Move

The creepiest song of all time. This bloke is real heavy-breather material. He probably uses a litre bottle of baby oil every time he makes sweet love with his poor victims. His genitalia are so slippery it wouldn't take much of a push to propel them from one side of an ice-rink to the other.



I hope you enjoy your evenings with plenty of food, wine and song. We will be watching BBC3's Most Annoying People 2009 in anticipation of a new decade of tosspots beaming their inane smiles at us and talking out of their arses.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Noughties

With news that Lord James Blount's Back To Bedroom is the UK's biggest selling album of the decade, where do I start?

Not with rock, that's for sure. The Strokes and Kings Of Leon tried to keep the rock wagon rolling but one of its wheels fell off long before the turn of the century.

Dance music, grime, dubstep and pop told the real story of the noughties. Vitalic, Dizzee Rascal, Burial and Ladyhawke. Just a few names to drop from a varied decade of artists. The decade of the individual in pop music. The band was dead.

And there was no greater individual than Felix da Housecat, whose Kittenz and Thee Glitz is my album of the past ten years.



Felix has been making house music since the 80s but this decade saw him really mix things up and cross over to a massive audience. Well, he should have but still remains somewhat obscure.

One wonders what is to come in the next decade. Will we see a new youth movement, or will pensioners spend their disposable income on Roland TR-808s and mash things up for the gilted generation? Who is to say?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Nineties

This was the decade of the last truly classic rock album, Nirvana's Nevermind. The decade when dance music was the format and DJs were the new gods. The most enjoyable time in history to be young, looking at things from a jealous middle-aged perspective for whom the 80s had been a time of abject misery.

Of course that's how it was.

So the dance single grew into the dance album with the likes of Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, Deep Dish, etc, producing stuff that you could sit and listen to at home. Contrary to the name, you don't have to dance to dance music. Just as my dad never danced to Ted Heath's Big Band but nodded his head like a demented pigeon.

As this was going on, The Aphex Twin, The Prodigy, Faze Action and Goldie were creating complex rhythms and tunes and music was alive again.

But I'm not going to choose any of these artists because I think of the 90s for me as the end of the old.

Britpop was retro music that took its influence from 60s and 70s guitar rock. The bands that did it for me weren't at the heart of the scene and probably would have hated to be lumped in with the Blur, Elastica and Suede family. Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals are still making good albums fifteen years on which kind of goes against the grain for rock bands.

My 90s album harks back, too, to rock, blues and gospel. It is Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized.



Jason Pierce made this album after losing his woman to Richard Ashcroft. Imagine the pain he was going through and the drugs he had to take to blot out the image of seeing the love of his life with that untalented streak of piss. But great art can be produced under the influence of pain and drugs.

*Sob*

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Eighties

My quintessential album of Thatcher's big cock of a decade features a man who even out-crotched the Taj Mahal himself, Mr Michael Hutchence.

It was not a great time for the album. The 12 inch single dominated with post-punk pop, hip hop and no wave at the beginning of the decade and house music at the end. The less said about the middle, the better.

There were good albums about, of course, by Joy Division, New Order, Scritti Politti, Associates, Happy Mondays, etc, etc. But New Gold Dream by Simple Minds had a forward thrust ("81,82,83,84") and that 80s production and bass sound that we all loved.



This was the end of a great run of albums by Simple Minds. They soon crossed over into stadium bollocks U2 style, lost their pop sensibilities and went up their own arses. Which for someone as well-endowed as Jim Kerr...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Seventies

Where to start? Well, I'll start by admitting I'm not up to the job. The 70s was such a varied decade for music with so many great albums. I can't say one is better than the rest.

So the "album of the decade" becomes the album that, for me, is at the heart of the period. In the 60s, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn took young minds out of the monotone past into a kaleidoscopic future. And so decades to come would strive for a Tomorrow's World without the suffocating constraints of the traditionalist Raymond Baxter.

Raymond would have chosen a punk album, possibly London Calling. But guitar rock was where we'd been, not where we were going, as the future music saw the increasing use of synthesisers.

So I'm going to go the whole hog and ignore great albums by the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, Television, Talking Heads, ignore the great soul albums of Stevie Wonder and Isaac Hayes, even ignore the electronics of the early Roxy Music albums and Bowie from the mid to late 70s. I'm going to go the whole hog and choose Kraftwerk's masterpiece Trans-Europe Express.



Smart young fellows in suits and ties, helplessly indebted to the Berlin Wall which was to be later ruthlessly destroyed by Roger Waters, Kraftwerk were Cold War Cool. This was the age of the train in Germany, knocking our Jimmy Savile's Leeds-London commute into a cocked hat. Trains that went long distances, sleeper compartments, countryside, towns and cities flying back into the past.

A lot has been made of Kraftwerk's influence on hip hop and house as if this was their greatest achievement. No. The music stands alone as genius. Man and machine, together. Together in electric dreams.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Album Of The Decade: The Sixties

Leading up to the end of the decade I am devoting this blog to discussing the best albums of each of the past five decades. And in time honoured fashion, of course this will mean the best white male rock album of each decade. Because, as we know, white male rock is the only form of music taken seriously for these kind of lists.

So, the 60s. There was the Beatles, of course, who made some classic albums. The Doors, of course, who made some classic albums. And my personal secret band, Spirit, who also made some classic albums.

But the best white male rock album of the 60s just has to be Pink Floyd's The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.



When I first met Betty I was unaware of the Floyd's early work. When she said she liked the band I imagined going to the Dominion Theatre to see a musical based on The Wall written by somebody extremely unlikely like, say, Ben Elton. Of course I was aware that Roger Waters was largely responsible for the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe. But he wasn't winning me over with his emotional blackmail.

But Betty played me The Piper and I understood everything. Man, what a trip! The Beatles' Penny Lane takes me back to my little comfortable 60s but this album takes me to the sixties. A 60s where middle class white kids were turned on, tuned in and dropped off at psychedelic gigs by their dads. It's a solid gold classic, mate.

What is your favourite white male rock album of the 60s? Pray tell.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lionel

"We're the only ones who tolerate Lionel. He's such a miserable, horrible man, hasn't got a good word to say about anybody. He pops up on our doorstep at the most inconvenient times. You ask him if he wants a coffee or tea and he says yes please and a sandwich would go down nicely.

Everybody's sent him to Coventry at the bowls club, except for us. It's the same with the dancing club. So when we had our club's Christmas dinner on Wednesday him and Jean were on the same table as us. He treats Jean like shit, always ordering her about to do things. She does everything for him, he's like a big baby who can't do anything for himself.

So we had our meal. Soup with a bread roll and butter, turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas pudding, mince pies, cheese and biscuits. Then they brought some bowls of Roses chocolates round.

Well Maureen offered our Roses to the next table. Their bowl was empty and she thought they hadn't been given any. They had but they'd eaten them all. So they took a couple and handed then back to us.

And you know what Lionel did? He snatched them out of Maureen's hand and said the chocolates were for our table and our table alone and he was going to keep them safe. He held onto them, out of the reach of everybody. He was so angry that Maureen had passed them onto the other table.

So I wasn't having this. I thought I'd make a joke of it and pretended to go for the chocolates. And you know what Lionel did?

He grabbed my hand and squeezed with all his strength. He was furious. He was squeezing so hard I thought he was going to break my thumb. He's a big man.

So that's it. That was like a red rag to a bull. We're not going to socialise with Lionel any more. He's cooked his goose. If he tries to sit on the same table as us in future we're just going to move. And if he turns up at our door we're not going to answer it. He can stick his sandwiches."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

An Important Announcement

Things are going to change around here. I've been writing on this blog for fifteen years and never made a penny out of it. I'm following Rupert Murdoch's example and installing a paywall.

From Saturday all you will see when you hit this blog is the following image.




The image will open its mouth and you will have 15 seconds to click on the PayPal icon on the tip of its tongue. You will then be able to securely electronically send me, the author of this blog, one United Kingdom pound for access to the delights therein. I will be making it worth your while by recording an exclusive daily podcast of me reading excerpts from the Old Testament in a very high, silly voice which you can download and play on the portable device of your choice.

Of course if you do not click in time, you will be denied access, the image will shut its mouth and slowly dissolve into the electronic ether. I will be able to tell from my stats just who has decided to not pay me a living wage. And I do not forget.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snooker Doggy Dog




Last night I came to the realisation that the beautiful game is not football. We had just stopped halfway through watching the French version of Lady Chatterley (or "John Thomas and Lady Whitestockings" as the English subtitles had it) and in my alcoholic haze I was whisked away to the Pukka Pies UK Snooker Championships from Telford. It suddenly all made sense.

Football I can watch if I'm passionately supporting one of the teams. An England containing Terry, Lampard and Gerrard I have nothing but disdain for. And a West Ham team as lame as the current one doesn't really get me jumping out of my seat. But, snooker is something else.

I presume you remember Betty's post on those snooker players of yore who brought an animal sexuality to the game.

I'm afraid today's crop of players are not in the same league. They are young, self-critical, efficient and personality-free. But could you see David Beckham playing in a tournament sponsored by Pukka Pies? Exactly. You cut your clothes according to your cloth.

So I sat there last night for a good fifteen minutes. Transfixed, I was. All that sport-watching machismo had left my body to be replaced by simple appreciation of skillfully maneuvered balls. The players were not important. I willed them both to perform to the best of their abilities. I was in no hurry, not like the old days when a dithering Terry Griffiths would get me shouting expletives with impatience. I was happy for the players to take as long as they liked to create the most pleasing shots.

Last night I found peace with myself. It has taken me by surprise but now I know there is no turning back. I think I will be able to retire with grace and free of stress. Though I may have to be constantly pissed.

Friday, December 04, 2009

National Treasure Island



Morrissey's choices of songs on Desert Island discs were hardly inspiring. New York Dolls, Ramones, Velvet Underground, Nico, Marianne Faithfull, Iggy & The Stooges, Mott The Hoople, Klaus Nomi. Seven-eighths white rock from the 60s and 70s. Even if we take the 70s, there was no prog, no disco, no reggae, no krautrock, no soul, no post-punk. Morrissey knows what he likes and he ploughs a very narrow furrow. This is evident in the whole of his and The Smiths' recorded output, lyrically clever but musically leaden.

Still, I like him and he's a national treasure and all that. Where would we be without Morrissey? Just who from the 80s would we have had posters of on our bedroom walls? Whose name would we have written in our exercise books? Whose name would we have referenced when announcing to our parents we were to become vegetarians? Who would have got us into Oscar Wilde?

Stephen Fry?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

There Must Be An Angel

Today Annie Lennox receives the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of her sterling work for the British Red Cross. It will be a star studded tribute evening featuring performances by independent lady singer-songwriters such as Little Boots and La Roux. Independent lady singer-songwriters of the noughties are continuing Annie's tradition of independent lady singer-songwriting and let's hope they continue Annie's tradition of humanitarianism in any spare time they may have between writing, recording and performing their songs.

Previous famous recipients of the award include The Queen, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, Luciano Pavarotti, Florence Nightingale and Winston Churchill. I'm sure you'll agree our foremost independent lady singer-songwriter can hold her own in such exalted company.

As Freemen, Annie, The Queen and Nelson Mandela (and presumably the ghosts of the others) currently have the right to:-

1. drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge

2. be hanged by a silken rope if sentenced to death

3. carry a naked sword in public

4. be bundled into a taxi and sent home rather than thrown into a cell if found drunk and incapable by a City of London Police officer

So go on, Annie. Fill your boots, get fucking rat-arsed, swirl that sword round like a wacky child and shoo some sheep and cattle over Dave Stewart's headless body. We will cheer for the death of the hateful 80s as your neck is enclosed in beautiful jacquard silk as you stand there resplendent in your perfectly tailored man's suit.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Shed

This shed was a refuge. It was here I did my stuff, I created. Music, art and literature. From dawn till dusk I did whatever my instincts told me. An artist must trust his instincts. Must act on them. Must do.

My family left me to my own devices. My wife worked at home, in her upstairs studio. She wrote film and television soundtracks. You may have seen her name. It may have registered. Sarah Malcolm. My sweet Sarah.

My children were gifted, too. Ross was going to be a successful musician. He had a magnificent command of a multitude of instruments. And Lucy's calling was to write. She was a precocious child who wrote her first story at the age of four. Our children were beautiful with full brown eyes and long dark hair.

Last Saturday evening, they all died in an horrific supernatural maelstrom of evil that engulfed the house.

Fortunately for me, I was in the shed at the time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

'Tis The Season

Preparations for the company Christmas do are in full swing. It's going to be a posh version of chicken-in-a-basket (pheasant-on-china?) with a live band (who will attempt anything from the 50s to the noughties) to accompany our noshing and guzzling. We've been asked for dedications for the band to play to fellow staff members.

Of course I'm keeping myself to myself and wouldn't dare suggest Kraftwerk's Pocket Calculator for yours truly or The Fall's Mr Pharmacist for the office cocaine dealer, but I thought it might be fun to make things a little difficult for the singer.

Bill Withers' Lovely Day, for example, or Mojo Pin by Jeff Buckley, or 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six by Tom Waits, or Captain Beefheart's Electricity. Even Rush's Closer To The Heart.

Any other challenges for the vocal chords?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Harvester (Slight Reflux)



Mrs Edmonds is cooking Noel's favourite meal, salmon steak with buttered new potatoes and tinned Smedley peas. Noel always orders this meal when he goes to his favourite restaurant, The Harvester.

"Sauce, darling?" Mrs Edmonds calls from the kitchen.

"Sorry, darling?" replies Noel.

"Would you like sauce with your salmon?"

For the first time in his long life, Noel is not sure about something. He dithers. Mrs Edmonds begins to get a little irritated.

"I said would you like sauce? I'll have to make it straight away if you want it."

Noel is confused. He really doesn't know. He really doesn't know whether he wants sauce or not.

"For the last time, darling!"

"Yes, darling?"

"Sauce or not?"

"Sauce or not?" Noel repeats, parrot fashion.

"YES! DILL OR NO DILL?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Harvester

Betty couldn't make it as she'd sprained her ankle the previous day and was not particularly mobile. This left me, my mum and her husband, and my sister and hers. I cadged a lift as I do not drink and drive.

My brother-in-law asked us what we wanted to drink. I was not quick enough to get the drinks in. I never am. Two of them went to the bar and the rest of us were greeted by the Harvester Greeter. Yes, they had a table for five. We were shown to it.

There were all ages in the restaurant, from babies to old women. Children were running around, in high spirits. There was a lot of chatter. I honed in on a kid who had a "Chelsea F.C." top draped over his chair. And the old woman with the half of lager, her middle aged son with a pint of coke. He must have driven the family there, sacrificing booze for kindness.

I picked up the menu. It wasn't the menu I'd seen online, the pdf I'd downloaded to my desktop. This was the good value "Earlybird" menu to be ordered before 6 p.m. I imagined birds waking up at 5 p.m. saying to themselves, "Bloody hell, I'm up early".

I didn't want to seem a cheapskate so I picked up the main menu, as did the others. I'd already decided on the soup to start and chicken & mash as my main course. Apparently you can't go wrong with chicken & mash no matter what day of the week or time of day it is.

The waitress came to our table. Nobody wanted a starter so I kept schtum about the soup. They were all going to scavenge from the free salad cart and eat their spoils as a starter. This is the Harvester unwritten custom. You do not have a starter, ever. You scavenge from the free salad cart.

I have trouble with raw and vinegary food. So after ordering our main courses the others went up to the cart and I was left nursing my glass of red wine.

They ate their salads. On the table ahead of me the old woman sent her lamb shoulder back to the kitchen. Was it underdone? Not enough gravy? I never did find out. Her son seemed happy enough with his mountain of food and his second pint of coke.

We spoke about what was on telly and about the Christine Bleakley/Frank Lampard affair. Then our main courses arrived. Two well-done sirloin steaks, one with jacket potato, one with chips. One salmon steak with buttered baby potatoes. One gammon steak topped with a fried egg and accompanied by chips. Oh, and my chicken & mash. Everybody had a baby's handful of tinned garden peas. And there was a bowl of onion rings to share.

We got stuck in and we were good girls and boys, eating most of our meat and fish and all of our peas. The leftover steak and salmon was wrapped in a serviette for the dog for later.

"Did you enjoy your meal?" said the waitress.

"Yes, thank you," we said.

"Would you like to see the dessert menu?"

"Yes, please."

I really didn't fancy a dessert. The others did and I watched them demolish profiteroles and all kinds of ice cream. A rather overweight family arrived and my mum said "Oh, well. There goes the rest of the food."

And then it was over. We left the bright Harvester lights, its motorway service station ambience, goodbye to the new arrivals, the old woman with three quarters of a lamb shoulder in her belly, her satiated son grinning into his half-full pint of coke. We said farewell and made a wish that this would not be our last time in such a convivial family atmosphere.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chanson d'Amour

From what you see in the media, you'd think that "old school" blogging was all about middle class birds shagging. Don't get me wrong, there was all that going on. But there was much, much more.

What you don't hear about are the blogs that described your ordinary working class geezers' experiences of sex. To put it bluntly, it weren't just the literary birds that were putting it about. Of course, the press couldn't give a bollock about the men's point of view as a man's sex life is not deemed newsworthy. But blogs like...

Rock Hard Alan's Blog
Derek From Behind
Long Dong Paul
Dogging Dave

and not forgetting my favourite...

Bit Of Rough Ray (a painter and decorator who described his exploits with a series of posh sorts whose interiors he was seeing to)

...all had merit and were a bloody good read.

They may not have had all those fancy words that got the ladies the book and TV deals but what the geezers lacked in finesse they certainly made up for in enthusiasm.

What are your memories of the old days?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And when they were only half-way up, they were neither up nor down

We're coming up to the time of year when my lovely family enjoy a happy Sunday in the glorious surroundings of a local restaurant. Tomorrow is our local Harvester's turn to experience us in action.

We go to posh places, too though. Remember the time we went here?

Well, I've received a few comments about my cheeky little review since I did it all of three years ago. (My, how the time flies!) Anonymous 1, 2 and 3 aren't really on my wavelength. They mistake my jest for a lack of sophistication. And their defence of a popular local restaurant which doesn't need defending I think illustrates an attitude prevalent amongst those with working class backgrounds who have pissed on their roots and are smugly happy to sneer at those who couldn't give a shit about the social climbing ladder. The ladder is long and the top rungs are off-limits to the likes of the anonymous as they climb as high as they can to breathe the rarest air they can reach. The food on anon's rung is good, of course. But far from the best. The best is as unattainable for them as it is for a single mother on benefits.

Pity.

Anon 1: "I can tell you would not know a first class meal at a resonable price if it bit you on your Burburry cap covered empty heads. Stick to MacDonalds you cheap, moronic, unappreciative egits.

By the way the V******* Restaurant is a fantastic place to eat, we had our company Christmas do there and found the food, wine, surroundings and staff to be excellent."

Anon 2: " "I travel through work a LOT and eat out at restaurants across the country practically every night, through necessity, to the point it's not a treat anymore.

The V******** Restaurant in B********* had always been my favourite - a place for a special occasion - and when I went back with my girlfriend recently I was concerned that it wouldn't be as good as I'd remembered, having been spoilt over the last year.

I'm pleased to say, it was every bit as good as I remembered, one of the best places I've eaten ANYWHERE, and I'm going back there again tomorrow.

The writer of this article doesn't know what they are talking about and needs to stick to Weatherspoons, where a beer and burger meal is very good value for money if you are feeling a bit tight ;)"

Anon 3: "Stick to ordering a pizza for your trailer geoff! I hear dominos are doing buy one get one free! that should keep the family happy!

wouldnt know a good meal if it came upto ya and twated u between the eyes!"


Nice, eh? The last comment on the post is Betty's. Which sums up our attitude to sneering bastards everywhere.

Betty: "Bleeding hell, anyone would think he had dared to criticise Cipriani or some other top notch joint, judging by the pasting he is getting from people who are so refained and poshe, don't you know, that they can't spell twatted or Burberry.

A shame that Chavscum.co.uk isn't still around - your subtle, witty potshots at poor people would have found a welcoming home there."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sleepwalking

"A Conservative government will give every child the kind of education that is currently only available to the well-off".

Does anybody believe this absolute shit coming from the mouth of the Tories' education spokesman and contact lens wearer of the year 2009, Michael Gove? But they're on a roll and can say what they like. No moronic floating voter is going to care what they say, they'll just say "it's time for a change" as if who runs the country is about as important as what they're wearing this autumn.

"I've had this coat for a good three years now. It's time for a change."

For those under the illusion that the New Conservatives don't have any real policies and that they'll be just the same as that New Labour lot, Johann Hari puts them straight in this post.

Of course they won't read it, though. Because "they're all the same".

Saturday, October 31, 2009

19th Century Boy

Well, I've tried iTunes U. Couldn't find anything to get me enthusiastic about learning. Just got bored, really. All it did was prove to me I'm not cut out for study. Study is boring to butterfly minds like mine. Since school I've tried a few things but never with any conviction. A Political Economy degree. Boring. The Association of Accounting Technicians course. Extra boring. Michel Thomas's Spanish course. Sleep-inducing. I am destined not to see anything of worth through. I just wanna be entertained.

But what entertains me?

I've bought this ipod and I might as well use it. So I got the audio book version of Simon Schama's A History Of Britain out of the library. Boring. I downloaded Madame Bovary from LibriVox. Boring. Lord Byron's Don Juan. Boring. I'm like a surly kid.

But LibriVox has thousands of titles. And as they are so easy to download I will not give in. I will find literature in the public domain that I like and I will come out the other end smiling. My life is about to become a journey into the past.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Depressing Week

We are sat there, listening to the following...

"We were sitting in bed discussing the BNP. We think he's going to get the protest vote. People who have had enough of the main parties. You can't trust them. Enoch Powell was right, my dad was right. There will be rivers of blood. Our people's blood, what with all these knives they've got. We'll soon be in the minority in our own country."

My grandfather fought the Germans, not an ideology. It was his patriotic duty. He loved his country, his England. And he agreed with Powell 100%. A white Britain full of "our" people was what he wanted.

Nick Griffin says his is not a Nazi party. It used to be, but not any more. He supports Israel. Can you imagine a Nazi being on the side of the Jews?

Watching Question Time. Watching a bunch of young, middle class Londoners (not your true working class white ethnically cleansed Eastenders, of course) attack one man and his views. Views which are held by a significant proportion of people in the UK. Labour, Tory, Liberal, too, attacking him. The people with their snouts in the trough. The people a significant proportion of the population are disgusted with, want no more to do with.

The BBC shot themselves in the foot. The "lynching" was wrong. It entrenched attitudes and even gained Griffin sympathy from part-time racists, your UKIP supporters. It converted nobody to the right side. Was I supposed to applaud along with the audience? Shout out, "Go on, David, you tell him!"? Feel smug that my representatives shouted him down? My 80% of the panel, my 95% of the studio audience?

If the BNP are legally obliged to be represented on Question Time, the law is an ass and Free Speech takes precedent over respect for others. But if they have to be, let them discuss the events of the week, let's see how their poisonous minds work in debate. Don't have Griffin on next time. Get another odious man on there. Or maybe one of their odious women. They do have women in the party, don't they? The BNP isn't a one-man show, now is it?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Digital Age

It's been some time since I gave a shit about the England football team. Apart from puking up at the sight of Terry, Lampard and Gerrard, my international mojo has gone. But Saturday saw a new me. My passion for my own team has gone.

I suppose it had to happen. I'm not a child any more, looking up to my heroes. I'm at least double the age of a large proportion of professional footballers. I'm even older than Billy Bonds was when he hung up his boots for good.

Yes, we lost to Stoke. But I still had the highlights to record on Sky Plus. Highlights? Who was I kidding?

So I phoned Sky. When I first got Sky Sports it was a fiver on top of the Sky Plus subscription of £10. Things have changed over the years.

There's no longer a subscription for Sky Plus. The Sports package costs £18 a month. Eighteen quid! Seven quid a game over the year! Ten lucky wins, ten bore draws and ten depressingly predictable defeats. What have I been doing with my life?

In other news, I have bought an ipod and have started listening to intellectual BBC radio podcasts. The BBC Podcast page has a search function where you type in your interest, "e.g. Moyles". I know he's popular but do people really download his podcasts? Do people actually find the twat funny and engaging? I despair of the youth of today.

I've also downloaded some lectures from itunes U. It's like going to university without having to do any work! I might just start skipping the lectures and go to the virtual student bar and spend my virtual parents' money on virtual beer!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jamie, The Young Karaoke Contender

You get a bit nervous the first few times but it's nothing really, you're amongst friends. I'm 23 now but I've got an old head on young shoulders. I suppose I'm lucky in that my uncle's an old hand. He's been doing it for 15 years. You can't buy experience. His Neil Diamond is the bollocks. And he was the one who introduced me to the music of Sinatra. He says I have something of the young Frank about me.

None of us drink much really. It ruins your performance. The only time I've really got hammered was on my 21st birthday. I had double vision and couldn't read the words to Hero. A famous song like that, you've got to give it justice.

The pubs we go to vary so much. Mostly they just leave us alone, though there is one where the landlord thinks he's Liam Gallagher. Which means I can't do my Wonderwall when we're there. Still, I've got loads more in my locker. Loads.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Two Drifters, Off To See The World

Andy Williams is the first artist "confirmed" to play next year's Glastonbury.

The luckiest couple in Britain are Mr & Mrs Ormondroyd from Blackburn.



Having come into some money this year, Bert and Hattie bought tickets on the off chance that someone they had heard of would be performing. Let's hope they enjoy the atmosphere and make the Glastonbury Festival a regular destination for years to come.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Commute Too Far

All Martin wanted was some peace and quiet. A few minutes quiet contemplation.

Sitting opposite him, a middle aged man was crouched over a laptop, tapping lightly on the keys, a look of self-importance on his face.

Martin could handle that.

To his right, a young lad was stretched out, eyes closed, mouth open, listening to what sounded like awful indie for the brain dead.

Martin could handle that.

To his left, a middle aged woman was playing a moronic game on her mobile phone, a gormless fucking look on her face.

Martin could handle that.

Then Martin's mother got on the train. She sat down beside him.

"I'm getting the early train this morning, love. Barbara's not in. She's got an appointment at the hospital. She hasn't told us what for. I'm sure it's nothing. Lovely girl, Barbara."

Martin could handle that.

Martin knew his mother wouldn't push it too far. She knew he liked peace and quiet in the mornings. She would awkwardly shut up now and shyly get out her Daily Mirror. Martin's mother was one of the few Mirror readers on a train full of Metros and Daily Mails.

"WHAT THE FUCK!" he exclaimed.

Martin's mother had pulled out the Mail.

Martin couldn't handle that.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Head Soup

The little plane was full, flying over Africa, on its way to the documentary for Chef Aid.

On board were Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White, Jean-Christophe Novelli, Gordon Ramsay, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Antony Worrall Thompson, The Hairy Bikers, Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal and Brian Turner. Pop star Gary Numan was the pilot.

Suddenly the plane started to splutter and Numan gave an announcement.

"I'm going to have to make an emergency landing."

They all woke up in the middle of the unexplored African jungle, tied up and surrounded by a hostile secret tribe of cannibals!

The tribe's chief was sitting on a throne in front of them.

"You know what I really fancy for dinner?" he said.

"No!" said the rest of the tribe in unison.

"I really fancy a bowl of head soup."

"Us, too!" said the rest of the tribe in unison.

So the tribe's butcher cut off the heads of the chefs, Oliver spitting in his face as he sawed the neck, Ramsay effing and blinding about the sloppy way he was cutting and Fearnley-Whittingstall asking for the recipe.

After four hours on a low heat, the soup was eventually ready. The chief was first to taste it. You could hear a pin drop as the rest of the tribe waited to hear the verdict.

"You have done remarkably well," he said to the tribe's chef. "The seasoning is, as usual, subtle yet piquant. The consistency is absolute perfection. But, I am afraid that this soup is not fit for such an illustrious tribe as ourselves."

"Why, Chief?" said the tribe's chef.

"You can blame me," said the chief. "I should have known. I am versed, after all, in the proverbs of the world. I should have known."

"Why, Chief?" asked the rest of the tribe in unison.

He raised his fists to the sky.

"Too many cooks spoil the broth!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blue Birds

A short interjection in amongst all my lovely fictional posts. Otherwise you'll forget who I am!

My long affair with the British public house is finally over. Saturday night was several beers and one violent stare too many. I had to concentrate on my friend's face in order to avoid eye contact with a drunk man with an evil look. And I swore I'd never drink in the same pub as my dad ever again!

As for the beer, I felt sick all Sunday and all I could manage that evening was a soothing gin and orange. Wine? Oh yes, wine too. But the rush I used to get from beer just isn't there any more. It's been replaced by nausea.

In other news, my mum's friend's over from Canada, mainly to see Vera Lynn in concert. At 92, I doubt Vera will be up to much singing. But I'm sure it will be an emotional afternoon and a jolly good sing-song, though the audience will mainly be the sons and daughters of Vera's Wartime fans.

Vera's chart comeback makes me wonder who was the Vera Lynn of our War, The Falklands.

Clare Grogan, perhaps?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Nostradamus Eleven



Nostradamus (pictured above) is probably most famous for his amazing prophecy which predicted the Second World War, to be instigated by an evil, shady character called Hister (our "Hitler").

What is less known is his prediction that an England football team would win the World Cup. Incredibly, the old goat kept a notebook in which he wrote down the names of all the players in the 1966 England World Cup Final team, other characters involved in the competition and even drew remarkable sketches which, thanks to modern computer technology, have recently been transformed into monochrome and even colour photographs!

So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I am pleased to present to you...

ALF RIMSEY'S GOLDEN WONDERS


Head Coach: Alf Rimsey


Gordon Bonks


George Coben



Jackie Chilton


Bobby Mayre


Ray Wilkins


Alan Balls


Nobby Steel


Martin Peterson


Bobby Chilton


Roger Hunter


Geoff Hister

Nostradamus had such incredible powers he even foresaw that the cup itself would be stolen and then thankfully found by a remarkable animal...


Dog, Biggles, with owner and World Cup

And who could forget the mascot of that great tournament?


World Cup Wally

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Edible Shrinking Man

I walked through the open microwave oven door.

"Do me!" I said.

"I can't do it," she said.

"Shut the door and turn the dial!"

The oven ceiling was a good two inches above my head. I was ready for death, though I could have done with a plastic horse to sit on as the plate rotated.

"If you loved me you'd do it!"

Margaret rushed out of the kitchen in tears. Left me all alone.

What had made me think she could kill the man she loved? She'd stayed with me, hadn't she? Through months of watching me shrink from a six foot hunk to a five inch mouse. I jumped out of the oven and made my way to the intercom.

"Margaret, I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

She came and got me and put me on my chair in front of the plasma tv. The big screen.

"So, what's it to be?" she said, sorting through the DVDs. "Gulliver's Travels?"

I shook my head forcefully. I'd had enough of that shit, night after night.

"Inch High, Private Eye?"

She gave me that smile she gave me when she told me she was pregnant, all those years ago. She couldn't have! How could she have got it? It wasn't out for another three months by which time I'd be the size of an ant!

I couldn't contain my glee.

"You've got it! You've got it!" I jumped up and down for sheer joy.

"That's why I couldn't cook you, my darling. Maybe after we've watched this a few times, eh? Maybe when Graham comes round on Sunday. We'll watch this for the last time, all together. Then I'll do a nice roast. With all the trimmings."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Greens' Staycation

Mr & Mrs Green planned their staycation with military precision. Each day they were to rise early, take breakfast on the patio, pack their rucksacks with books, sun cream, hats, umbrellas and medication, and take a gentle stroll to the train station with plenty of time to buy tickets for their destination.

The Greens were not affected by the credit crunch. They just wanted a carbon-neutral year. They wanted the local economy to benefit so their budget was to be without limit. By not spending all that money on travel and accommodation, they could do whatever they wanted to, without reason.

Mrs Green fancied the London Eye. Mr Green didn't so much as he had a terrible fear of heights. He didn't mind flying but those pods looked so exposed up there!

On the other hand, Mr Green liked the idea of the London Aquarium. But guess what! Mrs Green had a fish phobia!

But, of course, the beauty of a staycation is that all that money saved on fares and hotels can be spent on things that don't damage the environment. And it so happened that Mr & Mrs Green knew exactly what to do to ensure they both enjoyed every second of their two weeks off.

They would spend the money on seeing a hypnotherapist to conquer their fears.

So for the equivalent of two weeks in the Bahamas they got to go on a big wheel and see some cunting fish. And it pissed down with rain most of the days.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Busker

An old geezer once asked me to play some Dylan. Wrong generation, mate. Your classics are not necessarily mine.

The oldest song I play is Every Breath You Take. Most of my set is stuff from the 90s. Losing My Religion, High And Dry. I might even throw in the odd Wonderwall or Don't Look Back In Anger to please the masses.

I had this group of lads once, stopped and sang along. Wanted me to do an Oasis medley. I didn't mind doing it. It was a laugh. You don't get many laughs as a busker.

Sometimes you might see a married couple and you get eye contact with the woman. On her way to M&S or Sainsbury's, the old man in tow. At that moment you feel like you're singing just to her. That's a sweet feeling, that connection. A sweet feeling.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nothing Idyllic (For Liz Jones)

Country life is not for the faint-hearted, It is red in both tooth and claw. Yet it happens time and time again that a city dweller has a totally unrealistic chocolate box idea of the country and without a great deal of research foolishly ups sticks and moves to what they think will be a rural idyll.

But there's nothing idyllic about mucking out your own husband's shit. Nothing idyllic about having a ewe vomit into your face as your husband pulls out a bloody, gunky newly-born lamb as his shit runs down his legs into his Wellington boots. Nothing idyllic about having to drive 30 miles to a chemist for Imodium as your husband sits in the back of the Land Rover, shitting into a bucket. Nothing idyllic about having your husband shit on you during intercourse as he cannot control his bowels as he ejaculates. Nothing idyllic about hosting a dinner party round the Aga and as you tuck into your organic lamb you hear your husband in the adjoining lavatory, evacuating for England. Nothing idyllic about having lunch in a quiet country pub and your husband coming out of the Gents letting loose a noxious smell which permeates the bar for the next 20 minutes.

No, country living is no bed of roses. But I would not want it any other way.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Billy Bus

Billy Bus was a big red beast, a gentle giant. He moved through town with extra special care, looking out for pedestrians and other vehicles, never jolted forward like some other buses, and treated all his passengers the same, from the most courteous to the very rudest. He bore vandalism, sex, violence, fast food and body odour like the trouper he was. He never complained but worked hard from morning till night.

About a year ago, some middle class fucking cunt wrote a children's book about him and made a fucking fortune. The stories are currently being made into a very profitable television series.

Did Billy get any of the proceeds? Did he fuck! He continues to work as hard as he ever did for absolutely no reward.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Face Off

They were in the pub, the rugby crowd. Having a good time with their pints and their rugby songs. The landlord had never had any trouble with the rugby crowd. Boisterous, yes, but good humoured.

Then things turned nasty.

A gang of golfers walked in, fresh from the links. Every one was in a bad mood as they'd each shot a 10 on the 18th hole. They were spoiling for a fight.

The smallest golfer caught the hooker's eye. They were brothers and hated each other for their choices in life. The golfer had left school at 16 to become a plumber. The hooker was a chartered accountant. They both had large houses on the same estate, but never talked to each other, were never at the same family gatherings. The last time they'd spoken there'd been blood.

"Alright, lads," said the landlord. "What can I get you?"

"Little drinks for little balls," said the hooker, looking directly at his brother.

"Now come on, lads. We don't want any trouble, do we?" said the landlord.

"We all shot a 10 on the 18th," said the smallest golfer. "Our weekend can't get any worse. We've come here to drown our sorrows. We don't want any trouble, either. But if trouble comes looking for us..."

"Hear! Hear!" said the other golfers, as one.

The rugby crowd put their pints on the bar. Each of them stared daggers at a separate golfer. The hooker had fratricide in his eyes.

"Come on, lads," said the landlord. "Let's settle this like gentlemen, shall we? What about a nice game of darts? Winning team gets a free round."

Suddenly, in walked Mr Cockle, Purveyor Of Fine Seafoods.

"Seafood!" he growled, in such a smooth, sensual way.

The tension was broken, the brothers' stares melted, the rugby crowd picked up their pints, and they all mingled like long lost friends, feasting on whelks.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Antisocial Basterds

You've probably guessed by now that the scenes described in the last couple of posts on this blog didn't really happen. Real-life events are so unreal at the moment that the only way I can conceive of responding to them is to write fiction. So please bear with me as I go completely mad.

I've got a two week break coming up and will be taking another "staycation". I have the following activities penciled in. Will we enjoy ourselves or are there other things we could be doing or seeing within an hour or so's train ride of London?

1. Oxford
2. London Zoo
3. Inglourious Basterds
4. Little Venice Circular Walk

These are all daytime activities, of course. Evenings are for sitting in front of the telly, drinking ourselves into oblivion. Antisocial basterds that we are.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Bob Boskins

An old actor friend of mine died a few weeks ago. At his funeral there were all these luvvie types saying how he would have wanted us to celebrate his life, not mourn his death. You know the scene from Four Weddings & A Funeral? Just like that, it was.

This twat in a beret got up and performed a poem. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." His was a very soft voice which did not rage well but there was not one dry eye in the house, save mine.

It was a Humanist funeral, full of smug cunts. A Dawkins-lite tosser in a cream suit took the service. Fuck knows how he managed to sneak Darwin into it, but I suppose the deceased was a bit ape-like.

The spit of Bob Hoskins, in fact. I used to call him the cockney Bob Hoskins. I did this short at film school, Bob Boskins, in which he played the leading role. You've seen Being John Malkovich? Based on Bob Boskins, that was. Did I get the credit? Did I, fuck.

So they played a Rufus Wainwright song as we all took a few minutes to remember our friend. Rufus Wainwright. I hate him. My dead friend hated him. He obviously wanted me to suffer because he knew all those luvvie types like all that fake emotion.

Bastard.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Four Hands

"Free Kleenex tissues!"

It happens about once a month. I exit the train station and they're there, blocking the pavement.

"Free tissues!"

Free tissues. A little pack of Kleenex tissues. The anti-viral sort that kill germs.

Not very useful for me. I use more toilet paper than I do tissues most days. And I don't think anti-viral tissues are suitable for wiping your arse.

"Free tissues!"

People are lapping them up. Look at him! That bloke over there! He can't get enough free tissues. He opens one of his packets. He takes out a tissue. He holds it to his hooter and blows. He feels good. He feels so good he might wipe his arse on one of the tissues later. I wouldn't if I were him. But I think he's going to. You don't get much for nothing nowadays and what you do get you've got to get maximum value out of it. Not only blow his nose and wipe his arse, he may well have a little wank into one when he gets home. Just a little one, half a teaspoon or so. They're not mansize you see, but they will kill 99% of the germs in his jizz. If only he could do all three at once. Blow his nose, wipe his arse and have a little wank. But he'd need four hands for that. Count them.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Flags And Blood

I am not "West 'am". No matter how much I love the team I have never and would never fight for its name. Whatever that means. My relationship is with the team and the team alone. I am not a supporter. I am a fan.

When I've been to matches I've felt conscious of people around me. But I get so lost in the game that what they're saying or doing doesn't interest me in the slightest. Chants are background noise. I'm there but it's as if I'm watching it on tv. I feel tuned in to what's going on on the pitch and I block out everything else. Even the annoying bloke with the loud voice in the row behind me.

I am a fan. A supporter is a different animal. He or she feels at one with their fellow supporters. At its extreme, this feeling translates into a violent pride in their own people and an antipathy towards others. All the more so if the others are as close as family. Family who choose to wrap themselves in a different flag.

All this bollocks about going back to the dark days of the 70s and 80s! Proud allegiance has always been and always will be dark.

Wave a flag and you've got blood on your hands.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conkers and Clackers

Primary school was kind of OK. I wasn't bullied by any of the boys and even made friends with a few of them. The one Asian kid's school life was probably hell as I don't remember anybody making friends with him.

I was, however, once bullied by one of the girls. Lesley gave me a Chinese burn. So I told my mum and one afternoon by the school gates my mum got hold of her by the arms and shook her. She wouldn't touch me again.

Apart from that one incident I didn't have any dealings with the girls. I didn't play kiss chase.

In the year of the clackers we crowded into the shelter out of the rain at playtime and made a cacophonous noise. Knuckles were hurt and eyes were dislodged. I was very nervous of clackers but didn't want to show it. I closed my eyes and clacked for England.

More hand pain came with the conker season. Clackers were banned by the government but conkers remained as part of the playtime syllabus. I went to the park with the twins and we'd throw branches up at the massive horse chestnut trees, bringing fresh conkers down in their dozens. We got pretty accurate at throwing. Conkers were either put in the freezer section of the fridge along with the ice pops or pickled in large jars, along with the onions. You had to do something to your conker to prepare it for battle.

My literary life was gathering pace, too. I soon grew out of Peter and Jane and moved onto comics. None of those namby pamby children's books for me. I read Whizzer & Chips from cover to cover but never considered myself a Whizz-Kid or a Chip-ite. I was my own man.

I read other comics, too. But never the super-hero type or that prat Roy of the Rovers. Mine were more down-to-earth, prototype Viz comics. My favourite character was a boy who could only play football in his unwashed bare feet. You'd see him in the bath, his feet on the rim, nice and dirty.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Education, Education...Oh, please yerselves

Good luck to all the students who've just received their A-Level results (even the twats amongst them). I remember the complete and utter sense of joy when I opened my envelope. I leapt in the air with the other girls in my school as we all got straight As and all looked forward to a life of privilege.

I was thinking there must be some people who, even in their 20s, 30s, 40s and higher, are interested in how their old school does each year. They have a sense of pride or disappointment or pride mixed with disappointment or maybe anger that in their day their school's results weren't as good because teachers back then were so fucking hopeless they couldn't even sew their own leather patches on their jacket elbows let alone get the brightest young people of a generation into the best universities.

I was most impressed this year by the poor East London boy who got into Cambridge.

Surprise, surprise, throwing the equivalent of £24,000 a year's worth of education at a poor kid, you end up with a similar result as you do if mummy and daddy pay for their little cherub's future. It seems the experiment worked and we now know we're all the same under the skin.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Books For Blokes

What about those Bloomsbury Good Reading Guides. Useful, aren't they?

The one I find most useful is 100 Must-Read Books For Men.

Cos I'm a man, you see. You can tell just by looking at me.

The book's recommended authors include Lance Armstrong, Len Deighton, Tony Parsons, Jeremy Clarkson. Yes, it's really arty, as you'd expect a book with the name "Bloomsbury" on the cover.

And just imagine my testosterone going into overdrive as I ambled through the library at the weekend. After flicking through Wife In The North in the Quick Choice section, my eyes alighted on a sign.

"Books For Blokes".

I was like a pig in shit. James May, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, Peter Crouch, Lee Sharpe, Jonny Wilkinson, Chris Moyles, George Lamb, Graham Norton. The literary taste of every man in Britain was represented. I took an armful to the self-service machine and withdrew those books in such a manly way the young female library assistant literally fainted at my feet.

I think she'd been reading too many Mills & Boons.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Don't You Find The Weeks Are Getting Shorter?

Hi there. It's good to be back and it's good to have the football back. Good luck to all your teams and look out for Carlton Cole this season. The big man is either going to be immense or he's going to snap his cruciate ligament today against The Wolves and leave us with no centre forward.

This week I have been reading Rog's recommendation, Billy Liar. I like the book a lot but once again it's let down by the blurb on the cover. "Dictator, soldier, cripple, successful novelist, convict; this is Billy, a hero for our times." Um, no, not really. Just a selfish young man trapped in a shitty life.

Last week Tim tweeted about how good The Korgis were. So, with just their most famous song on Spotify, I took a chance and bought their Very Best. And very good it is, too.

Here's a truncated version of their first hit which you won't find on Spotify. Apparently it's "un tema que popularizo Rod Stewart". So it wasn't a hit in Spain, then?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home

We found our dream house, a three bedroom semi. Large garden for me to run around in. This was 1966, a year of affordable housing for an ordinary single income working family. You would need three incomes nowadays to get anything similar.

I was back on familiar ground. Back to the three of us. So much more civilised.

I started school again. Even though it was a small school, I hated being with all those children. And the teachers were so old, older than my parents.

The alphabet was drilled into us. The times table was, too. We started to read about those lovely children, Peter and Jane. Peter and Jane loved each other like most brothers and sisters in fiction. I wonder where they are now? Do they still keep in touch?

The Peter and Jane books were published by Ladybird. A different Ladybird made children's clothes. And then, of course, there were the real ladybirds in the garden in summer. Of the three, I preferred the insects. Ladybird books and Ladybird clothes weren't particularly exciting. They weren't alive.

I "played" with the girl next door. Meaning we were put together so one of the mothers could be free for a bit. I was still in my own little world and wanted nothing but my own company.

Eventually I made some friends. Or rather they made friends with me. The twins were nine months younger than me and in the class below. They were cousins of my second cousins so I guess that's how we ended up together. I was a spoilt only-child and had toys and they liked to play with my toys. One of them was more boisterous than the other and broke a lot of my toys.

I started supporting West Ham as West Ham had won the World Cup for England. Bobby Moore was my favourite player as he was the world's best player. My choice of football team wasn't based on geography or tradition. My dad had been a Charlton supporter because they were the nearest team to Bexley. I was a glory hunter, just like those Cockney Reds. All I could see in front of my eyes was a future of trophies and winning heroes, crying with joy. A lifetime of success.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Grim Reaper

The phone rings. I pick it up.

"Hello, this is Terry from Uncut Magazine. You were previously a subscriber."

"Yes."

"We don't like to lose our readers. We're offering you the next three months of Uncut for only £5."

"No, thank you."

"Oh. Can you tell me why you stopped subscribing to Uncut?"

"I was just bored with it, basically."

"Oh. Thank you for your time."

I am amazed this magazine is still going. Those of its readers who aren't stopping their subscriptions must be dying off. Yes, Allan Jones has 8 million stories to tell, but they're all exactly the same. Allan gets pissed with Nick Lowe or Elvis Costello or Ian Gomm or Wreckless Eric or Billy Bremner or the bloke who played the drums for Ducks Deluxe. Big deal, Allan.

The magazine's obsession with so-called "Americana" was bordering on the insane. Bands who get audiences of three perennially single middle aged men wearing Bob Dylan 2005 Tour t-shirts and reeking of onions were getting double page spreads! The reviews always included "stunning" returns to form by artists who peaked in the 1960s and whose new albums were recorded on life support machines. The covers featured close ups of male artists so old that we were actually on a government register as corpse fetishists.

So, no, I didn't take up Terry's offer. For music was my first love. And it will be my last.

But it's gotta have some life in it for gawd's sake.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

OU Pretty Things**

"In the darkly-comic Hangover Square, Patrick Hamilton brilliantly evoked a seedy, fog-bound world of saloon bars, lodging houses and boozing philosophers, immortalizing the slang and conversational tone of a whole generation and capturing the premonitions of doom that pervaded London life in the months before the War."

Christ, it's no wonder I only got an 'E' for my English Literature 'A' level.

1. I didn't get the humour.

2. I didn't recognise the seediness.

3. I don't remember any fog.

4. I think saloon bars are sophisticated, especially in comparison with public bars.

5. I don't remember the characters philosophising.

6. Was there any slang? I can't recall any.

7. How did these few selfish people represent a whole generation?

8. Were they that bothered about the forthcoming war?

Still, that is the blurb on the back of the book. I was inside the main character's head, saying "Kill them, kill them, kill them." and "Run away, run away, run away." I got completely immersed. I didn't see all the things you're supposed to see as a student of literature.

And that's where my problem lies, where I don't fit into the world of literary education. I am either swept along by a book or I couldn't give a shit. Usually it's the latter.

And speaking of education, did you see the documentary about the Open University? Lenny Henry said that without his extremely hard-earned OU degree he would never have played Othello. Why? Because doing a degree made him into a natural actor, I presume.

Not only is he a new Gielgud, but Lenny now understands every nuance of every Shakespeare play, as mere mortals who haven't done a degree could never do.

Myleene Klass is also doing an OU degree. I just don't know where she gets the time as she is such a busy lady. If I were even half as busy as Lenny Henry or Myleene Klass there is no way I'd find the time to study for a degree.

Kudos to the pair of them.



** Title copyright Betty

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I'm An Edinburgh Man, Myself

What a load of bollocks in today's Guardian about increased ticket sales this year for the Edinburgh Fringe.

"This increase in popularity is also put down to greater numbers of "staycationers" - people having their annual holidays at home, as well as the need to find an escape from the recession through comedy, theatre and the arts."

I think what we have here with these fucking staycationers and the fashionably frugal Cath Kidston frock-botherers is the pampered rich middle class playing at being affected by the recession.

You're spending your "annual holiday" (as if you only have two weeks off a year) "escaping the recession" (as if you don't do that every day you're in paid employment) "through comedy, theatre and the arts" (as if anybody on jobseeker's allowance could afford any of these poncey evenings out).

Why not spend your time off turning off your computer and your Sky tv, shopping for tins at Lidl and getting a book out of the library? Pretend you really are unemployed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cameron Crow

The David Cameron smarm offensive on Absolute Radio (previously Virgin Radio for those who give a fuck about U2) included not only a dig at something he quite clearly doesn't understand but also a bit of a grovel to government-maker Rupert Murdoch.

Apparently Cameron "loves" Sky Plus.

Nice one, cuntchops.

Christian O'Connell himself was being a bit of a crawl-arsing bastard (my dad's turn of phrase) and the two chaps got on like a house on fire.

Cameron even had time to appeal to thick female students when he lied that he was a big fan of Paolo Nutini.

As we all know, anybody who likes the deeply cerebral Radiohead's noodlings would hold no truck with sincere Scottish blue-eyed soul, possibly the worst form of music in the history of the world.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back To Bexley

I am more like my dad than my mum. Quiet. Though he had more of an adventurous childhood. He had a best friend to be adventurous with. Quietly.

In Christchurch I had no friends and I couldn't have been happier. Then all of a sudden we were on the move again. My mum had really had enough of being starved of adult company. A quiet husband wasn't enough for a fiercely sociable 34 year old woman.

So we moved back to the borough of Bexley. But we weren't able to get our own place straight away. We spent the next several months at my dad's parents' small terraced three bedroom council house. This was punishment for my mum for bringing us back. And not particularly pleasant for a young child used to space and privacy.

My dad's parents were quiet, too. My grandfather relaxed by doing the pools and watching the wrestling. The pools and the wrestling seemed to take forever, all Saturday. My grandmother seemed to spend all her time in the kitchen, boiling socks. Fish and chips from the chip shop was a weekly treat.

I remember by bedroom wallpaper most of all. It scared the shit out of me when I was ill. And I seemed to spend most of my time in that house with one sickness or another.

Shapes moved. They became three dimensional. They throbbed, heaved, backwards and forwards, side to side, span and spiraled. The wallpaper was alive and its only reason for being was to drive me mad with nausea and fear.

I started school, a tiny school around the corner. I immediately contracted measles. The wallpaper had a field day and the measles perforated my eardrum. My mum and dad were arguing. My grandparents were, too. They were all only keeping together for the child. The sick, weak child in the box bedroom.

Come on, Dad. Hurry up and get a deposit on that dream house!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Libraries Gave Us Power

In response to a complaint about our library's self-help service, a council spokesman said the following:-

"The use of self-service enables staff to perform more customer-focused functions within the libraries, such as helping choose books and offering guidance on the use of the public computers."

I don't need to use the public computers but any suggestions on which books I might enjoy reading are welcome.

So the next time I see my favourite library assistant I will ask her if she could point me in the direction of suitable books. I'll say I'm 47 years old, I enjoy intelligent films and television, have extremely catholic taste in non-bland music, and am leaning more towards non-fiction as I get older though I have recently enjoyed reading the library's stock of John Wyndham books and am currently enjoying Patrick Hamilton's Hangover Square. My political views are pretty left wing for this day and age, I do not wish to read about sport as the only sport I like is football and footballers' autobiographies are notoriously fucking brainless, I hate Jeremy Clarkson with a passion, Stephen Fry, though I think he's a nice chap, bores me senseless, comedians and journalists are mostly a bunch of tossers, I went through a period of reading plays in my 20s but I've grown out of that now, same with Philip K Dick, I do like a bit of poetry but couldn't sit down and read a whole anthology, I am not interested in anything a man of my age is supposed to enjoy such as cars, trains, Brunel, DIY, finance, religion, eighteen year old girls, murdering the mother-in-law, koi carp or fucking Wii.

"Please, Mrs Library Assistant? Can you point me in the right direction?"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blind Date

Hattie Lancaster, 33, PR and Marketing Executive

Mark Barrett, 32, Systems Analyst

MARK ON HATTIE

First impressions Friendly and outgoing. I was very nervous and a bit tongue-tied to begin with so I was relieved she took the initiative.

What did you talk about? Anything and everything. From Rothko to Andy Murray's chances of eventually winning Wimbledon. And music. We were both at the same Animal Collective gig!

Any awkward moments?
I dropped my fork on the floor but the waiter was nearby and quickly gave me a clean one.

Good table manners? Excellent.

Best thing about her? She was funny and interesting. And she has a lovely smile.

Did you go on somewhere? She had to be up early the next day. So, no.

Marks out of 10? 8.

Would you meet again? Yes.

HATTIE ON MARK

First impressions?
He seemed a little nervous. A friendly face, though.

What did you talk about? Music, mainly. And Andy Murray for about half an hour.

Any awkward moments? He sneezed into his hand then asked me if I had a tissue.

Good table manners? I've seen a lot worse. And a lot better, I'm afraid.

Best thing about him? He likes some good music.

Did you go on somewhere? I had a long journey home and had to get up early the next morning.

Marks out of 10? 5.

Would you meet again? I may see him at a gig. But, no, there was no spark between us.


Mark and Hattie met at some poncey expensive middle-class wanky restaurant in London.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Part Review Of A Book I Took Out Of The Library Using The Self-Service Machine

I am currently reading NOT IN MY NAME: A COMPENDIUM OF MODERN HYPOCRISY by JULIE BURCHILL & Chas Newkey-Burden.

Yes, that's how their names are written on the front of the book as everybody's heard of JULIE BURCHILL and nobody's heard of Chas Newkey-Burden.

It's very entertaining of course, as most things JULIE BURCHILL is involved with. Mainly because both the writers tend to see things in black and white.

There are no grey areas.

I'm just waiting for the moment when they get together on the last page and say:-

"LET'S BOMB IRAN!" just like that dickhead Kenny Everett did at that Tory Party conference.

OK, that was Russia and that was *funny*. Bollocks was it.

Peace, Julie.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Suicide Is Painless

I'm sure the verdict on Michael Jackson's death will eventually be "Death By Misadventure".

But for the so-called Peter Pan of Pop, an overdose of painkillers is somewhat less of a misadventure than, say, flying too close to the sun.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

All That Dorset Has To Offer

Christchurch was lovely. I loved it. My dad went out to work and I had nobody but my mum for company. We'd go out for walks to the shops, get the bus to the seaside. I got a little brown body in the south coast sun and a Batman outfit in which I ran down Bournemouth High Street, oblivious to the crowds.

I went back to Christchurch a few years ago. Surprisingly I could kind of remember it. The waterside, the park, the castle, the high street. Most people in Christchurch are now retired. My parents' generation. In a different life we could have stayed there and I could have developed a regional burr.

My dad loved it there, too. He enjoyed working for Shand Kydd and was settled in the house and town.

But my mum hated it. She wasn't making friends. She missed her parents and sisters. As entertaining as I was, I was not adult company. I wasn't due to go to school for over a year so there were no young mothers for my mum to chat to. It was a pretty lonely existence in a very nice place.

Two memories that stick out for me from our year in Christchurch were both frightening. Once we were crossing a bridge over the railway just as a steam train whistled underneath us. And once my cousin was babysitting me and the silly girl got it into her head that there was a prowler in the house.

But with my mum in the house I was safe. Happy playing by myself in the living room, listening to food being prepared, rooms being hoovered and the quiet druggy sound of the radio.

As my mum was going mad with loneliness, I was loving my own little world.

As for my dad?

Was he in his own world, too?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bring Back Robin Day

Last night we watched Question Time for the first time in years. Jarvis Cocker was this week's non-politician and he's usually entertaining.

Jarvis didn't really have much to say and only seemed to be on there for the Michael Jackson question at the end.

But demonstrating just how far to the right the Labour Party has gone over the years, I found myself in agreement with Iain Duncan Smith on identity cards and with Peter Hitchens re. the railways.

i.e.

Identity cards are a waste of money
The railways should be re-nationalised

It was also a bit rich of Jarvis to slag off Michael Jackson for being crap for the past twenty odd years when Jarvis himself hasn't exactly set the world alight with his solo "career".

Though still staunchly anti-Tory for most of their views I found myself getting more angry at the audience than the panel. They seemed to clap at everything like performing seals. You even get members of the audience with seemingly very strong views asking leading questions then applauding the panelists who give completely the opposite opinions. What kind of mind-altering drugs are these people on? If the Question Time audience is supposedly a cross section of the public, do we have a public of moronic floating voters agreeing with everybody then closing their eyes to place their cross on the ballot paper?

Probably.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Me And The Muggers

Dino went to a good home and I was allowed my own space. I was an only child and I soon learned to play alone, happy in the company of Baby and Daddy Mugger, my two pandas.

My first few years were spent in Welling, not far from where Kate Bush was growing up. Except she lived on a farm. A Welling with a farm is a different Welling from the Welling I've always known. Maybe she lived in a magical, invisible farm in the sky above Welling.

My mum and dad were pretty close to their respective sisters and parents so there was quite a lot of visiting. I didn't enjoy the company of people outside my immediate family. I knew most of them were nice and they gave me nice drinks and nice things to eat but I would rather have been alone with Baby and Daddy Mugger and my toy cars. I loved the shapes and colours and metallic feel of the cars and they would tootle along at a nice slow pace under my gentle guidance. I had no truck with those children who hurtled their cars along as if they were machines of destruction. Those crashing, smashing little bastards were all around but not yet destroying my toys. Not yet.

When I was four my dad got a job as an engraver for the Shand Kydd wallpaper company. The job was on the south coast and we upped sticks for Christchurch. The next year was to be one of the happiest years of my life and one of my mum's most miserable. They say you can't please all the people...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Tiny Carbon Footprint

No, your eyes do not deceive you, we are still at home.

I woke up at three o'clock on Saturday morning and immediately had a panic attack. It's not the first time. They usually occur when I'm away from home and have had a stressful day's driving. This time it was the night before. I still don't feel right now.

So bollocks to Wales. Last time we were there I nearly killed ourselves and the people in the other car. I'm not a reckless driver but I do sometimes lose concentration when I get tired. Which is every afternoon thanks to this bloody medication I'm on.

Anyway, I'll stop whingeing and make a list of nice places I will take my lovely car in future.

1. ASDA.
2. Sainsbury's/Homebase.
3. My mum's.
4. Bluewater, if they ever show a decent film ever again.
5. Ebbsfleet International Train Station for those exotic foreign holidays.
6. The council tip.
7. The petrol station.
8. The place where they service the car.

If it wasn't for the car I don't know how I'd survive.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Look, You're Getting These For Free, What Else Do You Want?

Before I leave you for a week I have something to get off my chest.

Yesterday I took some books back to the library and picked up some I wanted to take out.

"You can use the self-service computer to return and take out books," says the library assistant at the counter where there is no queue.

So I try to scan the books I'm returning and there is a malfunction. A teenage library assistant clears it for me and takes away the book that doesn't scan.

I try to work out how to scan my library card to take the new books out. The screen demonstrates a hand feeding a card into a slot. I have a hand and a card. But I see no slot.

I go back to the original assistant. There is still no queue.

"Can I take them out here? I can't work out how to use the computer."

"It's very straightforward once you've done it once."

"Well I haven't done it once."

"Maybe next time you'll get more help."

"Is it now policy to direct customers to the self-service computer?"

"It's very easy, you know."

I was trying to bond with her, to agree how terrible it was that stupid rules meant that even though there was hardly anybody in the library, library assistants like her weren't allowed to do the job they'd been trained to do. Of course the reality was, she was thinking...

"They employ these young girls to do nothing. I'm not going to work my arse off while these young girls are walking around the library with nothing to do, getting paid for doing nothing. I've been here for five years. Does seniority count for nothing? I'm going to have it out with the senior librarian. That young slip of a thing should be explaining to customers exactly how to use the self-service computer. She should stand over them while they do it, correcting any mistakes, making sure that the next time they use it they won't come running to me. I am more important than her. I shouldn't be spending my time behind a counter checking in books and checking them out, rushed off my feet, when some young thing who hasn't been here five minutes can't even pull her finger out to help the public properly!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sci Fi Wi Fi

My amazing life story will have to be on hold for a couple of weeks. I'm on holiday, taking a well earned break.

For some crazy reason I fancy reading some science fiction. I've just finished Richard Matheson's entertaining yet laborious The Shrinking Man. Couldn't get on with Neil Gaiman or Brian Aldiss. Got some Wyndham and Bradbury lined up. I like them. Or at least I think I do.

Any others you can recommend? As the actress said to the bishop, I think I had enough Dick in my younger days.

Asimov any good?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Child Or Dog?

When she was pregnant with me, my mum worked at the Atomic Energy. I don't think she personally handled atoms and I don't think whatever she did there harmed me in any way. Her best friend at the Atomic was carrying at the same time. A girl.

I was born in the cold December of 1961. A Wednesday's woeful child, full of tears.

I've still got the mark where they put the needle in. Antibiotics straight into my chubby little leg. I've got the mark but not the memory. I remember nothing from baby years.

The first thing I can recall is riding my tricycle, legs pumping away like manic sausages, heading along the pavement for my dad as he came home from work, a packet of Murraymints for my consumption about his person.

I don't remember our dog. Dino was named after the Flintstones' pet dinosaur and loved nothing more than to eat my mum's cigarettes. The possible risks of having a small child and a dog together were thought insignificant. But a small child and a dog who eats your cigarettes were too much for my mum's meagre housekeeping to handle. The cigarettes were essentials. So either the child or the dog had to go...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Life Of Brian

After nearly five years of this I'm a little lost for things to say. I think it's time I set myself a little project to get me going again.

So, for the forseeable future, I will dedicate this blog to my life story. Starting right from when I was a cute little tot. How does that grab you?

They say everybody's got a story to tell and this will be mine. You will laugh, you will cry.

No, bollocks will you cry.

You'll laugh.

Not with me.

At me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Don't Do Facebook

I am a hypocrite. Banksy really pisses me off for hiding his/her real identity from the world. Yet I refuse to join Facebook as I don't want my own name out there, having to make friends with people I'd rather not be friends with.

The rush for Facebook Vanity URLs is presumably now over. It's too late for me to be the biggest "Geoff Twat" on the internet. Let some other Twat be the biggest Twat. See if I care.

From what I've seen of Facebook it seems to be populated with:-

1. Pictures of groups of pissed young women with red eye.

2. Pictures of groups of pissed young men with red eye.

3. Pictures of groups of pissed young women and pissed young men together with red eye.

4. Pictures of wedding parties on tropical beaches, including the bride's two young children from her first marriage.

What a load of bollocks! But then again I don't see what you bloggers get up to on there. Am I missing out?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Terrible Middle Class Humour

Reading John O'Farrell's An Impartial History Of Britain Or 2000 Years Of Upper Class Idiots In Charge I am struck by a surfeit of terrible middle class humour. It's there on every page, sometimes more than once a page. It is too much to take.

In my lifetime, I have been bombarded with terrible middle class humour. Time and time again I have sat down to watch a tv show and there it is, terrible middle class humour, sniggering at itself, thinking it's clever, thinking it's funny.

I bought this book last year at a reduced price. I haven't felt so short-changed since that awful Bill Bryson one.

Now where's my Jim Davidson autobiography?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Teenage Angst

Although a lazy sod at home, at work I work hard. I work to pay the bills. Job satisfaction involves getting some figures to agree.

Today I googled someone who went to the same two schools as me. He's a professor now.

He had enthusiasm for his subjects. Straight A's at A Level. Degree, postgraduate degree. Enthusiasm all the way through. He must have had it, mustn't he? You don't get to be a professor without an enormous amount of enthusiasm for your subject.

Some people just naturally fit in with the way the world's been constructed. I'm incredibly jealous of them.

Last week I was asked if I've always liked figures. I said no, I've never liked them, but I can live with them. I like words and music. But words and music don't pay the bills. Unless you're very lucky or very talented.

Why couldn't I have been born with enthusiasm for things that I could earn money from rather than things I've spent thousands on? Why did my parents have to have me?

Everything's so unfair.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Farage Balloon

9.05 p.m...

"Oh, it's that programme with Meera Syal. I like her. She's a good woman and really intelligent. Her husband's good as well. Do you like him, Geoff? He's got a new show starting soon, Sanjeev."

9.30 p.m...

"It was such a long list, wasn't it? Too big for the booth. I was looking at some of the names. Did you see Labour had three Indian names? That settled it, I wasn't going to vote for them. It took me ages to find UKIP. They weren't called UKIP, though. They were called the UK something or other."