52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

ain't no mountain high enough

So that's it for a week or so folks.

As of about 04:20 tomorrow morning, we're being picked up by some friends to head on over to Birmingham airport. From there we're catching a flight to Lyons, and then heading up into the Alps for a spot of skiing.

Last year we rather lowered the general tone in Courchevel 1850 ("L'elegante") - one of the poshest ski resorts in the world. This year we've moved 200m further down the mountain to the rather more lively Courchevel 1650. The other change this year is that we are going as part of a group of 20-or so people, and will be almost completely occupying a hotel a short stagger from the lifts up the mountain. I have to say that I already feel a little sorry for the four people who find themselves in our hotel but not in our party. Oh well. We only actually know a few of the other people going, but apparently they're already squabbling about who gets to have me in their quiz team, so I think we'll be fine.

I'm only an average skier, and I tend to have my good days and my bad days. On a good day I can manage a black run if the snow is good and it's not too busy. On a bad day I will stand at the top of a simple slope and wonder how on earth I'm going to get down without dying. After several years of putting it off, C. and I are planning to get a bit of tuition this year to see if we can make the step from "alright" to "decent" skiers. We'll see, eh?

All we need now is some decent snow when we get there, and everything should be tickety-boo, and it's looking good on that front too: C.'s mum and dad live near Orleans in the Loire valley, and we got a call from them this morning saying that France was blanketed last night. Apparently Lyons airport was actually closed for a few hours because of the snow. I suppose I could worry about this, but actually I have decided that it is excellent news.

Right. I'd love to stop and chat, but bags to be packed......

Au-revoir mes petits. A dimanche prochain.

How did they know I was coming?


I nearly forgot to mention..... After the (modest) success of "Guess Who The Bookshelf Belongs To" and "Guess Who The Handwriting Belongs To", it's time to get your digital cameras out again.

I want you to send me a picture of the inside of your fridge.

All you have to do is open the door and take a picture of what you see. The beauty of this idea is that you shouldn't have to worry about the lighting, although if you like we can have a debate about whether the little light in there really does go out when you shut the door, or if we just assume that it does....

Acting as our very own Loyd Grossman and taking us 'through the keyhole' of each entry ("Who would eat from a fridge like this?") will be YokoSpungeon (as long as she remembers that she agreed to do this back in the dim and distant past and if she's still up for it....). She'll be providing us with some insightful commentary on each photo.

So cameras out, and no cheating. If you have a manky out-of-date bottle of mayo in there, I'm afraid you'll just have to leave it in there.... what's another couple of years past the sell-by-date?

All entries to the email address in my profile please.

See you in a week.

Friday, January 27, 2006

tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty

Well. This Friday seems to have taken even longer than usual to come around. I'm on holiday next week (more details on that tomorrow), and because I am away from the office for 5 days, I have of course had to do 10 days work this week.... very relaxing....


I briefly made myself happy this morning when I managed to get hold of tickets for me, C. and Mark to go and see Morrissey at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in May this year. The old bugger has got a new album coming out in the spring, and he puts on a hell of a good show when he puts his mind to it. Something to look forward to.

As I'm sure you will all know, buying tickets online can sometimes be a stressful experience as a large number of people converge on a small number of websites that are painfully ill-equipped to deal with the demand. I had the usual 5 or 10 minutes of hitting the 'refresh' button, but without too much hassle, I got through, bagged some tickets and completed my transaction. Bingo. Seats B31-33 in the Circle. Confirmation email arrives and I get on with my day.

You'd think that would be it; job done. Sit back and wait until May.


Three hours later I get an email telling me the transaction has been cancelled. After making some phonecalls (and I'm not through with them just yet), it turns out that the agency had some kind of a problem when they went to take payment off the card. This had nothing to do with my card or my bank, and everything to do with their systems being overloaded. Instead of holding the tickets and adding my name to a list of people who would need to be contacted on the mobile phone numbers the application form had so specifically asked for, they were released and resold. The gig has sold out, and I am left with nothing. There's not much the agency can say to me really, they can apologise all they want, but what I really want is 3 tickets to go to that gig. I'm on the waiting list, but I'm not holding my breath. Just to annoy myself, I looked it up on Ebay. £250 for a pair of tickets.


Enough about me and my problems eh? (although what kind of blog would this be if that were true? I reckon that if more bloggers thought like that, there would be a whole lot less blogs in the world... that's for sure.... and most of the ones that remained would be about knitting)

This week's Guest Editor has been on my radar for a little while, but due to a move in blog address and my inability to make my bloglines feed work properly, I've only been reading sporadically. That's all changing as part of my new year manifesto item to "Get Out More", and as a direct result of that....

Ladies and Gentleworms, I am proud to present for your earworming pleasure....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #33 - Lithaborn

This would have been difficult before Christmas, as the only music I listened to on the move was Radio 2, but delight of delight, I am now the proud owner of a lovely MP3 player.

Now, I know this is supposed to be a list of the songs that reverberate around my brain on a daily basis, but I'm hoping our generous host will allow me some latitude, as I think a list consisting of "Bob the Builder", "Pokemon", Nickelodeon's slightly sinister "The Jimmer Jammers" (one of those evil songs designed to tell kids that the channel's shutting down and it's time for bed) and so on would be exceptionally dull - as would ten explanations which go no further than "Bloody kids TV".

Instead, this week's Auricular Vermitude will consist of the tracks that regularly get uploaded to my MP3 player, and of course, the sometimes slightly dodgy reasons why...

10) Blind - Korn

Picture the scene: A dancefloor filled with long haired, sweaty individuals who have just headbanged and moshed their tits off to any number of heavy metal greats - Pantera, Sepultura, Metallica, Rage Against The Machine...

And then everything goes deathly quiet.

Into the ringing silence comes the incessant tishtishtishtish of cymbals, underpinned with that tense, coiled bassline... duduududuuududu....duduududuududuu...

We wait. We know what's coming next...

Jarring lead guitar spikes short riffs into the middle of the mounting percussion...

And Jonathan Davis growls the three little words we've been waiting for:

" Are You Readyyyyy"

A pause of a single beat, then the noise hits like thunder. We rock out like motherfuckers.

Best. Intro. Ever.

9) Kandy Pop - Bis

I don't have a love of Jap-pop to defend my enjoyment of this song, I don't know anyone in the band, I've never been to a concert, I've never bought an album of theirs, but for some reason, this keeps finding its way back onto my MP3 Player.

It's just one wonderfully trivial and silly slice of proper saccharine pop that just pushes all the right buttons. I can't even be cerebral and philosophical about it, it's just a great romp of a track!

8) Summertime - Miles Davis

I've had a long love affair with jazz, ever since I first taped "Take Five", Dave Brubeck's best known piece, off Jimmy Saville's "Pick of the pops" one Sunday afternoon way back in the mists of time. Since then, I've been enchanted by a genre of music that seems like it speaks right to my soul.

Live Jazz is best, of course. The first Jazz act I caught live was Stan Tracey's Big Band. It was in two parts - the first was made up of a suite inspired by the first book of the Bible and was in all fairness artsy modern plinky-plonky crap. The second half of the night, however, was a pure treat. A full hour of Duke Ellington numbers that fairly blew everyone away. To say I was sold would be an understatement.

It's true to say that I have many favourites that I could have written about. It's even true to say that Miles Davis isn't my all-time favourite Jazz musician - that honour is reserved for the Bird himself, Charlie Parker. But when I first heard this track, I knew I could listen to it forever.

The first bar of this track has been known to take my breath away and make my knees buckle. It really is that good.

Davis's command of his art is indisputable at the best of times, but on this track he outdoes himself.

Sublime. 'Nuff said.

7) Oh Bondage Up Yours - X-Ray Spex

"Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard, but I think... "

I was born ten years too late. The sheer raw energy of acts like the Pistols, UK Subs, X-Ray Spex just blows me away everytime I listen to it, and this track just typifies everything I love about the genre. Anarchy, conflict, passion, subversion.

True, there's other Punk songs I love - I mean, one does not attend a four day festival purely because the Pistols are playing unless you seriously love their work - But there's just something about Oh Bondage that works for me. Is it Poly Styrene's vocal stylings? Is it the slightly out of place sax? Is it the ever so subtle lyrics?

Yes, frankly.

6) Dub Be Good To Me - Beats International

I love the Housemartins. From the sharp social comment of Sheep to the tight a capella treat of Caravan of Love, the boys from Hull defined late 80's pop for me.

As a result, I have a lot of time for the lads' subsequent projects. Lead singer Paul Heaton formed The Beautiful South and took satirical music making to a whole other level, heavily loading sublime tunes with biting commentaries. And Norman Cook reinvented himself as the master DJ we know him as today.

As a rule I don't have any time for this kind of music, but my affection for Cook's roots helps me connect with his more recent work. And Dub Be Good To Me stuck in my head from the very first time I heard it - to such an extent that to this day it is still the only piece of dance music I have actually gone out and purchased.

5) Spiralling - Erasure

It's 1987 and I'm heavy petting my first girlfriend in her room.

This album - The Circus - is our soundtrack.

This track brings back sweet memories of more innocent days, my first summer of love, and on the remix album, they re-recorded it with a full orchestra replacing the already perfectly good synth. It made a great song even better.

It's the story (surely autobiographical) of someone who feels the oh so familiar pain of young love lost, locking himself in his room and contemplating his own mortality:

" Were you to weep
And lie at my feet
Then you'd wash all
My troubles away
And imagine the host
Of angels around me
That give me the courage to die"

Oh, who hasn't been there, eh? Ah memories...

4) New York State Of Mind - Billy Joel

Another one from the mists of time, this, and an even more revealing and embarrassing story than taping stuff played by Jimmy Saville.

I first heard this song on a Muppet Show album. Oh yes folks, Zoot, the beat Sax chappie contributed this wonderful number, and well, it was such a huge difference from the rest of the silly nonsense on the album that I couldn't help but sit up and take notice.

The words, at the time, spoke to me of the isolation and soulfulness filling my own life and I took it on as my own private anthem:

"It was so easy living day by day...Out of touch from the rhythm and blues...Now I need a little give and take...The New York Times, the Daily News...

Come down to reality, and it's fine with me 'cos I let it slide..."

That's me man, that me right there.


3) Dignity - Deacon Blue

I have a lot of respect for Scottish Pop: Texas, Deacon Blue, Wet Wet Wet, et al. These bands form a link through my mid to late teens, forming the soundtrack to the most angst ridden time of my life, and this one track, Dignity, talks to me of aspiration, of holding on to a little dream no matter how unlikely you might be to succeed:

"he packs his lunch in a "sunblest" bag
the children call him "bogie"
he never lets on
but i know 'cause he once told me
he let me know a secret about the money in his kitty
he's gonna buy a dinghy
gonna call her dignity"

It's a fine reminder that even the lowest members of society still deserve some respect.

2) I Believe In A Thing Called Love - Hayseed Dixie

I can't stand the Darkness, but this cover just got stuck in my brain and won't ever leave.

Hayseed Dixie are a cajun AC/DC tribute band and you really need to just listen to some of their work. Wonderful fun from a great bunch of guys.

1) Tadzungaria - Forward Kwenda

I discovered this track on a trawl of the file sharing networks shortly after I bought myself an Mbira - a traditional African instrument made up of metal tines bound to a wooden sounding board - anything from a flat piece of wood to a hollowed out gourd. It's played with the thumbs and produces a sound like no other instrument.

Tadzungaria is an ancient Zimbabwean prayer to the ancestors to stop all suffering in the world:

"We are wondering, lost souls in this world, Chaminuka and those spirits under please guide us"

According to one website, Mbira music has the power to "change the state of the performers and listeners...much like ancient chants and sacred music" - and listening to this track, it's easy to see why.


Thanks again ST. I think I've said more about my youth than ever before here.


Thanks very much mate - a good diverse list there. Jazz? Mmmm. Nice.

No Guest Editor next week, but maybe something the week after that, eh? What do you say? You up for it?

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham]


It's just struck me how much the "extra" track on "Luxembourg" by the Bluetones reminds me of our very own Flash and GnuCnu - only flash does it better, of course!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I don't want to watch 'The Street' on TV, I don't want to hear about your day


Kubb @ Nottingham Rock City basement - 25th January 2006

The last band that I saw in the basement bar of Rock City were a pre-'Gay Bar' but post-"Danger! High Voltage!" Electric Six, who were ace, obviously. The venue itself is a dingy little bar at the back of Rock City, and it probably holds a maximum of about 300 people. Dick Valentine had us eating out of the palm of his hand that night; when he stripped off his suit jacket and shirt to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with the face of a Baywatch era Hoff and launched into "Radio GaGa", the room went ballistic. Ah - simpler times.

My expectations of Kubb were probably a little lower. Thanks to Lord B, I have a copy of their album ("Mother"). I think I would politely describe them as a slightly sappier version of Keane, with guitars. Lord B loves them, of course. I listened to the album a couple of times, thought they were okay, and consoled myself with the thought that a night at a bad gig is generally better than a night in front of the telly (and I've gone right off Desperate Housewives). The audience didn't exactly fill me with confidence either - it was a very odd mix of earnest looking young people and quite a few older people. I actually had to ask Lord B if he was sure that they weren't christian rockers. It was that kind of crowd.

The band shambled on a little apologetically and waved shyly to the crowd before kicking off into their first song. How would I describe them? Hmm. Well, put it this way: I reckon that the three of Keane could take the four of Kubb in a fight. There's not many other bands I reckon Keane could take in a brawl, but this is one of them. The singer looks like he could handle himself, and the drummer had chunky looking biceps, but the guitarist is tiny and the keyboardist wears glasses. They probably had their dinner money taken from them at school a lot, and I think it shows.

How were they? They started strongly, playing my favourite song of theirs first ("I Don't Mind"). Sadly this meant it was all downhill from there. They were okay. He's a decent singer, and the songs are alright... but they're quite quiet. It was a bit like being in a smokey church. Even the between-songs banter was conducted in a whisper, and this had the knock-on effect of dampening down the crowd reaction to a muted hush. After they finished a song and the initial applause had died down, there was an almost total silence before the next song started.

I started to get distracted by the people around me - never a good sign - and focused on the woman in front of me with no concept of body space who kept backing into me, the barman reading a book, the guy with stupid big hair like Simon Amstell from Popworld and a face like a smacked arse, the hunched up guy chain-smoking onto me, the people just behind me stood in a circle talking loudly to each other over the music.... the usual contenders for the coveted 'Twat at Gig' award (tie between body space woman and hair, if you're interested).

They finished the main part of the set with their two most famous songs - "Wicked Soul" and new single "Grow". Both got the crowd moving, but were probably most notable for the fact that when they attempted a crowd-singalong, the only voices to be heard from the crowd were female... Having mentioned earlier in their set the 'fact' that Nottingham is famous for having a ratio of 3 women to every man (so many bands mention this at Rock City that it must be pinned up in the dressing room somewhere), the band presumably thought that this was par for the course, rather than a reflection on the typical gender of their fanbase.

They nearly rescued it during the encore actually. They'd run out of songs to do, or at least they thought they had, when a member of the audience suggested one to them, which they played immediately. In spite of their protestations that they couldn't remember how it went, and how this was likely to be a shambles, they then followed this up with a more than decent cover of "Mother" by John Lennon.

The verdict? Alright, only alright.... but still better than a night in front of the telly.



On a completely unrelated note, I had a dream last night. I was at some big event and found myself escorting Heidi Klum though what looked like a giant empty marquee filled with dinner tables and chairs. I couldn't tell you what Heidi Klum looks like particularly, I just knew it was her. Someone else was with us too, but I didn't get a good look at them, and I'm not even sure what gender they were. The three of us walked through the deserted marquee until we came to a doctor who was working behind a counter. The doctor was the guy who played the friendly White House journalist who dated CJ in the West Wing. He looked at Heidi and asked her to take out her contact lenses. She didn't have her lens case, so I found a piece of cardboard, but a couple of drops of solution on, and she took her lenses out and popped them onto the cardboard. The doctor examines her eyes for a moment and concludes that she has an eye infection, although I don't remember if he wrote her out a prescription or gave her any drops. We seemed satisfied with this anyway, but as the three of us were starting to walk off, I turned to the doctor and mentioned that I had contact lenses in too. He just smiled cryptically at me and said, "I know, you have it too".

And that's it.

Pick the bones out of that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

into the trees, into the trees...

Before going any further, I feel that I should point out that last week's "Blog Of The Week", Girl With A One-Track Mind, has just been nominated for a bloggie - "Best British or Irish Weblog" - in the Sixth Annual Weblog Awards. I don't think it has anything to do with me, but I think you should go over there and vote for her anyway.

On with today's business then.

Blog of the Week #4 -- Ditch Monkey

"This started out as a project to live in the Woods for six weeks in order to raise sponsorship for the woodland trust. Six weeks was easy(ish) so now the project is being extended for as long as I can last - the aim being for 1 year. I live in the woods, I have no other address it is where I live. 12 months is the target, the question is how long will I last..."

This is another one that you might have seen sitting around on my blogroll for a little while, but I thought it was high time I pulled this out for your attention. It pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin: he's a bloke with a good job in a world famous auction house in London and one day he decides to go and live in a wood for a year.

That's it.

He has no house. He has no other address. He lives in some woods near Oxford. Every day he gets up from his bivouac, leaves his little campsite behind and catches the bus into London to go to work. At night he leaves work, maybe has a drink or two in town, heads back to Oxford and goes to sleep in the woods.

It was -6 degrees celcius in Oxford last night. His breakfast banana froze.

Over the last few months, we've watched him struggle to carve a spoon, struggle with his hammock, struggle to make his bivvy bag waterproof without asphyxiating himself and struggle to cook a decent meal.

On the plus side, he has made friends with a tree called Bruce.

Blog of the week, and clearly a loony.

[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions, Girl With A One-Track Mind]

Monday, January 23, 2006

these sounds fall into my mind

For the first time in a little while, I found myself standing in a shop a little after 08:30 this morning attempting to buy myself a couple of new release CDs.

The CDs in question?

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

I've done this several times before in my life. Usually it is an album that you can't wait to get your hands on, one that you have waited for in breathless anticip-p-pation for months. I can remember stopping off at Milton Keynes shopping centre on my way back from the Reading Festival in 1994 to try and buy myself a copy of "The Holy Bible" by the Manic Street Preachers. I had seen the band performing that weekend, and they had blown me away with their new material, and when I heard that the album was out the very next day, I just had to get myself a copy. I know it sounds pretty quaint now, but in those far off distant days of 1994, all the shops were shut on a Bank Holiday, and I was forced to go home empty handed and wait for another day before getting my grubby hands on a copy of what is still one of my favourite albums.

I can remember a few others as well: A Different Class, Coming Up, The Bends, Parklife, Be Here Now (yeah I know - but didn't you?), Vauxhall & I, OK Computer, A Rush Of Blood To The Head.... and loads of others.

It's probably a bit Nick Hornby, but there was something great about knowing that you were one of the first to own that great new album. Sometimes I'd have to wait for a little while before I could have a listen though: I didn't have a discman for years and spent a fair amount of time welded to my cassette walkman, and it was only about 5 years ago that I first got a car with a CD player in it. Sometimes I wouldn't get to listen to my new purchase for days: I bought "Coming Up" in Buxton when I was on holiday, and I didn't have access to a CD player until I got home about a week later. I'm not sure it was worth the wait, to be honest.

It's not really the same now, is it? The digital age means that you can either pre-order something months in advance on Amazon, download it from iTunes at midnight, or you can just get your grubby hands on some illicit MP3s you found via a filesharing website. The Arctic Monkeys actually had to bring the release of their album forward by a few weeks because it had leaked onto the internet.

So why did I bother this time?

I normally listen to music at work through my iPod. It's a fantastic gadget, but it takes a little bit of effort to get stuff on there. To get the music on, I add it to the music library on my computer at home and then I sync it on and off we go... I can't do this at work, so there's not all that much point making a special trip to pick up the CD on the way to work. I might buy it on the way home, but I won't queue up to wait for the shop to open - I'll take the extra 15 minutes in bed.

I work in a big open plan office, and I sometimes find it really hard to concentrate so I listen to music. My iPod's been nicked, so I've been listening to CDs, and I fancied listening to something new.

End of.

(oh. And it was a Monday, I had a terrible night's sleep, I don't really like my job and I thought the world wouldn't collapse if I was 15 minutes late for work. It didn't.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

and someone told me not to cry...

It's Friday, and once again it is time to be reminded that we are merely puny mortals before the all-powerful might of the Earworm.

This week's Guest Editor is long overdue an appearance here, so I won't let a long introduction delay him from leading our devotions for a second longer.

Ladies and Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce for your earworming pleasure.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #32 - Graham from Lonely-Town

What is an earworm? An earworm is something that gets into your head and doesn't leave. It’s a stuck record on the internal jukebox. Now, not having an iPod (preferring a rather more flexible substitute – which is considerably cheaper - called a 'walkman', an analogue device with a potentially infinite and removable storage capacity, and if it breaks down, you don't lose everything in it because the playback device and storage medium are separated), the main stuff that gets into my head is whatever I have to hand. And I've waited the whole week to see what's been bugging my internal jukebox the most, and here they are (sequenced as if to make a fairly strange compilation album in its own right).

10. The Who - "Baba O'Riley" (From maximum R’n’B box set, 1995)

I never liked The Who. Never understood them. The problem was this - I never could place them in the right context. A lot of music is like that. Music that whilst the song is great, you've never been able to connect with it, emotionally, at the place where you just can’t describe. Sometimes you aren't in the right state of mind, or right place in life, to understand what the hell they're going on about it. And then one day it clicks. It just clicks, and everything, EVERYTHING, all makes perfect sense.

And so it was for this particular song and me, right up to 2003.

Whilst watching the Spike Lee film 'Summer of Sum' - one of my favourite films of his (in only because his films previous to this were so ingrained in the issue of race I felt alienated by them, whereas this film is about people growing up, not about being a specific skin colour). It’s a huge epic drama about New York in the 70's set amongst the backdrop of the notorious 'Son of Sam' serial killings. There's a scene where everything is crystallised. Disco is suddenly dead, there's a blackout on the streets, and Adrien Brody one day turns up as a punk. And then a shimmering, almost minimalist keyboard line twinkles in and out, like an excerpt from an early Phil Glass record: Undeniably70's, but simultaneously fragile and yet vital. The guitars crash in. The drums begin. And then the voice begins - 'out here in the streets...'

I never understood the Who until then. And then it all fitted together perfectly. It’s only a teenage wasteland....

09.Tangerine Dream - 'Doctor Destructo' (from 'Thief' Soundtrack, 1981)

In the early and mid 80's, Tangerine Dream swamped the market with film soundtracks - mostly commissioned to pay for the vast amounts of hugely expensive synth equipment that they were buying in a vain attempt to remain up to date technologically. But it wasn't this that did them in; you can only burn the candle at both ends for only so long before you start to burn out. By about 1984, when they were doing about 5 or 6 albums a year, they finally did – just when had been making what I think is some of their most interesting work. I reckon that the best work they ever did can be found on the Risky Business soundtrack in 1983, though the purists will disagree. It was the middle of the New Romantic scene, and an instrumental German group most had been writing off as has-beens (and had been ever since 1977 when punk killed prog), were suddenly showing just how far ahead they had always been.

Maybe that’s why I haven't been able to dislodge this from my IJ recently. Sadly, since 1984, they've been musically irrelevant jumping the shark and trend simultaneously, but for a couple of brief years, they were bloody good.

08.Modest Mouse - Float On (From Mojo: 'U2 Jukebox', 2005)

The best music is music that takes you to that other place. It transcends the room you are in, takes you outside those four walls, and just lifts you up. And the best guitar solos are the ones you can sing, as Torr says.

I know nothing about Modest Mouse. All I know is that on the Mojo 'U2 jukebox' CD, this song is track 2, and I just find myself singing it as all sorts of moments, no matter where I am.

Choppy guitars. Meaningless nonsense lyrics that somehow make perfect logical sense. Music that takes you to the other place, and it lifts you up. And for a couple of brief moments, all those other things going on in life just drift away, and all we have are the chords, the moment, and suddenly, the words sing out "And if it gets a little heavy, It's alright, Don't Worry ".

07.INXS - "This time" (From 'Listen Like Thieves, 1986)

I love INXS. It’s embarrassing, but INXS truly were, at their best, the finest stadium funk-rock machine imaginable; at least before Hutchence decided to jump the shark and go grunge in a vague attempt to remain with it. Perfectly fusing rock, dance, new romantic, funk, and stadium pop-rock, a lot of their best work actually comes from before their commercial peak. "Don’t Change", for example, is as much a new romantic classic as anything else from 1983. "Burn for You" is almost the prototype for U2's "Unforgettable Fire". But from 'Listen like Thieves' comes 'This Time' a simplistic, little, ballad. It’s certainly a long way from being one of their most interesting songs, either songwriting-wise or in terms of production, but damn, is it catchy? It sure is. That’s why, once again, I've not been able to escape from it in my head'.

In fact INXS once cost me dear: The review of 'Definitive INXS' I wrote pretty much got me chucked off drownedinsound.com. Because it was a non-ironic admission of a love of 80's stadium rock, far at odds to their indier-than-thou no SELL OUT ethic which wasn’t so much cutting edge, as adhered rigidly to the ethic 'the more obscure, the better'. Never mind. I love INXS. I don't care who knows it, and I'd far rather have music I love than that anyway. Some sacrifices have to be made.

06.Rush - "YYZ" (From 'Moving Pictures, 1981)

Ding da ding ding ding da ding ding ding da ding ding! etc.

A 3-minute long jazz-rock-metal instrumental. Dizzying with the sheer technical ability required to play 6000 notes a second, full of layered guitars, synths and production. YYZ is an instrumental tour de force, comprised, if you like, of one single three-minute guitar solo that you can sing along to. With choruses, verses, middle 8's, and the whole lot. It even has a jazz bass solo in the middle too. And drums. Woah.

And to see 15,000 people go nuts to it is another thing, especially when you really just know that many of them are playing air drums (which is a greatly therapeutic hobby, but don’t tell anyone ok?). However, to watch a stadium full of people singing along to it is just insane. Well, that’s exactly what happens on the "Rush in Rio" DVD. Sure, Rush have far better songs (Force Ten, Prime Mover, anything from 'Grace under Pressure', 'Power Windows' or 'Hold Your Fire'), but none of those have been driving my brain nuts over the past week. Thing is, normally I get to a phase where I listen to a band constantly for a few days, and well, this is one of them the past week.

05.U2 - 'Kite' (From 'All that you can't leave behind', 2000)

I can't escape U2. They've always been a part of my musical life, ever since I heard 'Desire' in the middle of my metal years and it knocked my socks off at how different it was (as in, it was rock n roll, but not the rock n roll that I knew: i.e. Poison & Guns N Roses). So when they came out with ‘Achtung Baby’, for a long time I just wasn’t interested. Now I realise that it's their finest, most cohesive album. One that I can listen to so often, and still only just about get tired with on the thousandth listen. It’s the same with ‘Zooropa’, which I actually prefer because it sounds like nothing else before or since. The problem is, just which U2 song will it be? It’s a difficult choice, but it's Kite: a song about so little, but also about so much. About how we grow older, and how we change, and how we need to let go. It just gets me:

“And I want you to know, you don’t need me anymore
Who’s to say where wind will take you,
Who’s to say what it is will break you
I don't know, which way the will will blow,
But i know that this is not goodbye…”

04. The The - I've Been Waiting For Tomorrow For All Of My Life (From Soul Mining, 1983)

Last night, waiting for Mark, The The's classic ‘Soul Mining’ record was the sole reason why I stayed in Music Zone as long as I did. Introspective, acid-drenched in paranoia and claustrophobia; other-worldly and sounding like nothing else before or since. This is track one, side one of the best album of 1983 (Yes, even better than AC/DC's 'Flick of the Switch'). Insistent, driving, and urgent, this is everything the best music can do for you. Sometimes music doesn't have to take you to the other place - sometimes it has to show pieces of you you've never admitted to. As Yukio Mishima said, 'Give a man a mask and he will show you his true self' (though I paraphrase), this is for anybody who's ever felt that their life is just waiting to begin, when the clock is already ticking but they just feel like they are waiting to start. Waiting for something. They just don't always know what. They've just been Waiting for Tomorrow for all of their life.

03.Marc Almond - Brilliant Creatures (From 'Fantastic Star', 1996)

A double A side charting outside the top 40 in 1996, this was never ever going to be remembered. Except by me. It sparkles and shines. It’s a beautiful, exuberant, disco pop beast the likes of which should never be forgotten. And yes, whilst we might dance with tears in our eyes, this is exactly how we should do that. A paean to 'a love lost in the great big city, you gave me your number but fate blew it away....' This says to hell with the tears. All we have is now, all we have is this moment, and we can cry tomorrow baby, but tonight we're gonna dance like brilliant creatures. Every cloud may have its silver lining, but here it doesn't – it’s a lining of bright neon glitterballs, of a life worth living. This is Marc Almond's long lost classic, a shining example of sleaze and beauty and vibrancy, and like nothing he's ever done before or since will ever come close to this. Because, tonight, Matthew, we're gonna dance...

02.Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around (from 'American Recording IV', 2002)

I gotta admit, I have an ingrained loathing of Johnny Cash. Like I have a loathing of rugby (the sport, not the town). I don't hate it so much because of what it is, but because of the emotional connections and connotations I have with it. Have you ever split up from someone so badly you couldn't disassociate yourself from the songs you used to sing together, the music they used to play endlessly? Well, given that my ex loved Johnny Cash so much, quite frankly, I can't listen to Johnny Cash much. It makes me think of her.

But I love this song. It's a form of language the like of which is dying out. A use of phraseology and words that is going to die out forever once people like Dylan and Cohen join Cash and are gone forever. In a world of identikit cookie cutter meaningless pop music, here's a man with a command of language and phraseology, myth and meaning, the likes of which Britney or the Pussycat Dolls could never even approach. The re-telling of the final days of revelation and judgement, in vivid imagery, with a voice cracked and broken by years of sorrow...and even used in a William Friedkin film (The Hunted).

We live in a world where so much of this cultural heritage and command of language will be dumbed down out of existence. This is utterly magnificent in its construction and richness of imagery; not to mention utterly terrifying:

'The terror in each sip and each sup, will you partake of that last offered cup? / Or disappear into the potter's ground? When the man comes around'

It’s about the choices that all of us make: the good, the bad and the indifferent. We all end up in the same place, and we all have to pay the price for what we have done. And pay that price we will, when the man comes around.

01.Arcade Fire - Wake Up. (From 'Mojo: U2 Jukebox', 2005)

I don't know much about Arcade Fire. I've never heard the album. I've only ever heard this song, as on the Mojo's cover-mounted U2 Jukebox CD.

And it’s brilliant.

The best music takes us to the other place; it transcends the mood and the moment and the mere four walls we are in, and it changes the way you feel. It makes you feel like you can reach out and touch the stars, if only for a brief moment. It makes you feel like anything is possible. It’s as though something is about to happen, and someone told me not to cry. It’s exuberant, celebratory, and heartbreakingly beautiful.

'Wake Up' by Arcade fire has been lodged in my IJ since the minute I first heard it; since I heard those choirs come in. Even with it's final third turning into a bizarre cover version of Iggy Pop's Lust for Life, it’s a revelation.

Music, at its best, it takes you away to that other place, and this is the record to do it.

'Our Bodies get bigger, and our hearts grow colder', but with music like this song, none of that matters. It touches me, it gets inside me, and it stays there, reminding me of everything I could ever be and everything I ever was. And that is why it’s the earworm that just doesn't go away.

It’s been there for months now.

And finally, keeping up that tradition of hidden secret tracks at the end of any good record.... comes the bonus track:

00.Dead Can Dance - the Host Of Seraphim. (from 'Serpents Egg' 4AD, 1988)

First time I ever heard this, it was late at night, on MTV.

There was a single image - of a boy in the third world pulling a cart, in a sweltering desert heat surrounded by sand, (as in the film BARAKA) and a low mournful, static sound. And then a voice. A single, mournful voice. One of pain and suffering. Not a single word, not a single lyric. Just emotion, an emotion that transcended words that said so much without saying a single syllable. The static notes of the organ grew, layering on each other, and then, suddenly, it changed. From one of pain and suffering and mournful loss, to a voice of recognition, and a voice of redemption. To me, it transcended the pain and began to remember the joy you could have... There is a time for sorrow and mourning. But also for remembrance, and jubilation. Remember what is good of our lives, despite the cloud of mourning. Remember what it is that we loved about this people, and remember, even though there is pain and suffering in this world, and in our hearts, without that, we could never be what we are to oh so many people; people who love us; people who miss us when we are gone. And miss us even when we are here.

Bury me to this.


Thanks Graham. Delivered with passion, and who can ask for more than that?

Next week, I'm hoping that Lithaborn will be Guest Editing.... and we can get some insight into what goes around the head of a Hedgewitch.

Oh, and I had a dream last night too.


[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

everybody must get stoned

A couple of years ago, the British Government took the decision to downgrade cannabis from being a Class 'B' drug to being a Class 'C' drug.

On the face of it, that was no big deal. It remained illegal to own it, illegal to supply it, and illegal to grow it. Both possession and supply remained criminal offences with a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment for possession and 5 years for supply. The only real difference was the maximum length of sentence, and the fact that the police would no longer have power of arrest for possession (although they retained it for supply and trafficking).

The change in the law caused all the usual fuss, but that soon died down and I forgot all about it. The people that I know who regularly use cannabis continued to use cannabis, and those who didn't use cannabis continued not to use it.

Big deal.

And yet suddenly the issue burst into life again this week when Charles Clarke, the British Home Secretary, announced that he had decided against reversing the decision to downgrade cannabis to a class 'C' drug.

Oh really?

Apparently there had been some serious misgivings as a result of studies that showed that there were strong links between cannabis use and mental illness. One study in New Zealand, suggested that regular cannabis use increased the risk of developing psychotic symptoms later in life. Another, from Maastricht University, suggested that taking the drug "moderately increased" the chance of psychotic symptoms in young people, but added that it had "a much stronger effect in those with evidence of predisposition for psychosis".

So Clarke has decided not to reclassify cannabis, but has instead ordered a wholesale review of the way that drugs are classified. It's a move that has been welcomed by the Liberal Democrats, but loudly condemned by the Conservative party, who have pledged to reverse this decision should we ever be unfortunate enough for them to come back into power.

Blah, blah, blah.

I'm sick of this. I'm sick of all this posturing and all this hand-wringing. The Government only reclassified cannabis as a Class 'C' drug in an attempt to appear 'groovy' and to try and win a few votes. They stopped a long way short of actually decriminalising the drug. Now it looks very much as though they have had their arms twisted by the police and drug and mental health charities into reluctantly leaving things the way they are. The first sign of any opposition to their policy, and the Government couldn't apologise fast enough. They are terrified that they will lose the middle-England votes that would cost them an election. Those ordinary people who believe that cannabis is a "gateway drug" to a world of intravenous heroin use. Well it stands to reason, doesn't it? Most intravenous drugs users also smoke cannabis - ergo cannabis is the first step to a life of addiction. The fact that most intravenous drugs users also eat bread, drink beer and shop at a supermarket seems not to be relevant.

It makes me bloody angry. The battle-lines in this debate are so bloody arbitrary. Cannabis is illegal. Alcohol is legal. Heavy drinking is thought to kill up to 33,000 people in the UK every year. Over 9 million people in the UK drink at levels that put their long-term health in jeopardy. Alcohol is a factor in 30% of sexual offences, 33% of burglaries and 50% of street crimes. 70% of attendances in Accident & Emergency departments between midnight and 5am on weekends are alcohol related.

Do I need to go on? Should I mention smoking?

Alcohol is legal because it has always been legal. Although politicians huff and puff about binge drinking and longer licensing hours, they will never seriously consider banning it.

Cannabis has only been illegal in the UK since 1928. Why is it illegal? What serious grounds are there for cannabis to remain illegal as long as drugs like alcohol and tobacco are openly on sale?

It's not the fact that it's illegal that particularly pisses me off, it's the fact that no politician will ever attempt to change the law as long as they perceive that it will cost them votes. Like so many other things, it's a political football. I'm sick of politicians pretending to care about people and their welfare, when it's apparent that all they actually care about is staying in power. I know that's hardly news, but it's pissing me off.

As Bill Hicks said:

'And on the seventh day, god stepped back and said "There is my creation, perfect in every way... oh, dammit I left pot all over the place. Now they'll think I want them to smoke it... Now I have to create republicans."'


I need to chill the hell out.

Gotta light?


I've just re-read this post, and I'm a little annoyed at myself for putting up something that patently has nothing new to add to this debate. I was thinking about what I had written as I got ready for bed, and as I was cleaning my teeth, I had this horrible vision of how posts very similar to this one have probably been published on weblogs across the internet for years, and how I wasn't really saying anything much at all. I'm also pretty sure that most people reading this will probably largely agree with me. We're all fairly liberal (note the lack of capitals there), we have a social conscience and we recognise that it is ridiculous that alcohol is legal and cannabis is illegal. So what? Shall we all agree together?

Sorry. I'm not taking this out on you.

The thing is that I've been watching Charles Clarke (now there's a man who looks like he never went to the right kind of parties) on TV all week, and he's really been irritating me with his posturing on this. I realise that this is what politicians do, but for some reason I found the whole stupid circus especially ridiculous this week. It made me think of Bill Clinton smoking but not inhaling, and all the fuss that was made during the Conservative leadership campaign when David Cameron refused to acknowledge or deny that he may (or may not) have tried illegal drugs (gasp!). Stupid, stupid, stupid.


Maybe I should have spent the time telling you all about my comical inability to roll a competent jazz cigarette (or indeed any other kind of cigarette).

Maybe I'll tell you about that another day.

Cannabis is supposed to be good for the WT's, by the way.... or so I've heard.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

send me your pillow, the one that you dream on

I'm really tired.

It's all my own fault. It's the unavoidable result of never getting to bed before midnight, spending upwards of 9 hours a day at work, and obsessively exercising 4 or 5 times a week.

I've got nobody to blame but myself.

I keep meaning to get an early night, but it doesn't happen. I never seem to leave work much before 7pm, and if I go out to the gym or something, it's rare that we will eat much before 9pm, and sometimes later. By the time I really should be thinking about going to bed, I find that I'm just not ready. I spend too much time at work to just spend all evening asleep. Books to read, posts to be written, DVDs to be watched, music to be listened to....

When I do finally get to bed, I sleep well, but I rarely dream. Certainly nothing that I can remember, anyway.

What does that say about someone? If dreaming is your subconscious mind working through issues, what does it say about you if you don't dream?

Recently I've started to get night sweats. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and realise that I'm wet through and have soaked the sheets and my pillow. I have to get up to dry myself down, get back into bed and try and to make myself comfortable. I've no idea what's causing it, although it's possible that it's related to the WT's. It's not very pleasant and I hope it stops soon.

Perhaps I'm having terrible dreams but I can't (or won't) remember them when I'm awake. Perhaps it's another reason I'm feeling tired.

I want to know what's going on in my head when I'm asleep. Come to think of it, I want to know what's going on in there when I'm awake too.

If I start dreaming, I'll be sure to let you all know so you can interpret for me.


In completely unrelated news, and in a rare foray into non-autobiographical writing (ahem), I'm working on a piece for Reader Meet Author about a guy who doesn't dream. I haven't written it yet though, so you'll have to make do with the news that I've started serialising my Nano novel over there.... also completely unautobiographical.

*whistles innocently*

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

get up, get on up

Blog of the Week #3 -- Girl With a One-Track Mind

"Diary of a sex fiend"

With a tagline like that, I can see that you're intrigued already aren't you?

I have to confess that I don't usually go in for sex blogs much. In the main, the simple fact that the author's writing ability is far outstripped by their sex drive means that they are dull, dull, dull. I don't know if you've tried it, but it's actually very hard to write well about sex. Any sex scene taken out of context can seem laughable: either too full of flowery metaphors, or filled with too much gritty mechanical detail. Not many people do it well.

This one is different though. Girl can really write, I think, and she also writes well about sex.

I discovered this blog via a "Right To Reply" feature on the new licensing laws over at Silent Words Speak Loudest. Girl was one of the other participants, and something that she said made me curious enough to go and have a look at her blog.


Yes, she talks frankly and openly about sex... of course she does.... (if you want to get a flavour of what I mean, see here for her favourite moments of 2005). But she writes with a real style, and I like her. She's sparky.

Blog of the week.

[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions]

Monday, January 16, 2006

I'll do graffiti if you sing to me in french

Picture courtesy of the considerable photographic talents of The Eye In The Sky

This fantastic statement is scrawled onto an otherwise totally unprepossessing bridge just around the corner from where I work in Nottingham. It's not every day that you drive past some graffiti that quotes (knowingly or otherwise) Juvenal's Satires ('Quis custodiet ipsos custodes').

I've no idea why they chose this spot to make their point, but I have to say I like it. I like the fact that hundreds, maybe thousands of commuters will drive past this every day on their way into work, and I like the thought that perhaps some of them will take the message on board.

I'm reminded of a stand-up routine that David Baddiel used to do when he was part of The Mary Whitehouse Experience (which, amongst other things, was the first programme to use the word "wanker" on broadcast TV in the UK, fact fans):


'M. KAHN IS BENT' was, until recently, painted in very large white letters on a railway bridge that crosses the North Circular road in London between Crouch End and East Finchley (Just by the gasworks).

It had been there for over ten years, unmissable by every single car travelling in a westward direction on the North Circular, which, bearing in mind that approximately 300,000 cars containing an average of 2.7 people pass under that bridge every day, would indicate that, over the course of time, the fact of M. Kahn's bent-ness may have been impressed on 2,956,500,000 people, or round about five times the population of Europe.

This kind of majority opinion must have made it very difficult for M. Kahn to dispute.

Many things, however, remain unexplained. Considering the scale of the insult, why did the man who painted it choose to use the polite form 'M. Kahn' - as if he was writing a letter to his bank manager? Perhaps he didn't know Mr Kahn's first name (Michael? Monty?), in which case he can't have known him very well - in which case it seems a bit much to go and paint definitive statements about his sexual orientation ten feet high on the North Circular.

And perhaps even more intriguing, why was M.Kahn himself (Morris? Matt?), no doubt a resident of the Finchley area and well able to contact the local borough council, content to leave the message there for over a decade? Is it possible that he wrote it himself? Which would suggest that the graffiti was not in fact an insult, but the biggest sex-advert in the world. Perhaps we'll never know.

Whatever it was that persuaded the council finally to paint over 'M. KAHN IS BENT', The Mary Whitehouse Experience is prepared to offer a large sum of money to any person or persons prepared to go back to the bridge, under cover of darkness, and paint on it the words 'M. KAHN IS STILL BENT'.

[although see here for the reason why this story may not be at all funny]


We must protect our civil liberties while we still have some to protect.


Speaking of which, I know that....

this film ("People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people") is coming out soon, but what about....

....this film??

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I should have seen it when my hope was new...

My long, slow descent into a white, middle-class middle-age began to pick up some speed this morning.... I went out and played a round of golf with a couple of friends. I enjoyed it too. It was cold, raining and I came last, but I plan on doing it again. As you might expect from someone who has only played a couple of times before, and who last picked up a golf club in anger about 18 months ago, I wasn't much good. But I only lost one ball and I hit a couple of good 5 irons, some decent pitches and a couple of useful putts.... and it felt really good.

It was only a 9 hole par 3 course, but I feel as though I have set something in motion. It won't be long before I'm out shopping for some plus-fours.

Caddyshack is on telly tonight too. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Friday, January 13, 2006

c-o-l-a cola

Having not done an Earworms of the Week post for ages, I've done it a couple of times in the last few weeks, and I'm going to do it again this week. Partly this is because I like doing it, but to be perfectly honest with you, it's mainly down to the fact that I left it far too late to get a Guest Editor sorted.

Never mind, eh? Hopefully you'll manage to put up with me.

Come on then; let's make the best of it.

10. The Arctic Monkeys - When The Sun Goes Down

Presumably the whole world is now familiar with the fact that The Arctic Monkeys are going to take over the whole world in 2006, yes? This is the follow-up single to the fantastically good fun "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor", and it surely features one of the best uses of Yorkshire pronunciation ever committed to record.

"And oh he must be up to something
Want half a chance to show he's more than likely"

Except the word "something" is pronounced "summit". Absurdly catchy record. Again.

This one's dedicated to Yoko.

9. The Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight

I have absolutely no idea how this has got into my head, but it's stuck. It's so stuck I've had to download it, and now I'm doomed. It's that bloody bassline. Great lyrics though:

"I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
to the hip hip hop, a you don't stop
the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat"

Pick the bones out of that!

8. Gene - Truth, Rest Your Head

This is probably my favourite Gene song. It reminds me of going out for a run one day whilst listening to "Olympian" and glancing casually at a couple waiting at a bus-stop, only to see that the guy was the absolute dead spitting image of me. I stared at him as I ran by, and he and his girlfriend both stared at me. About five minutes later I turned around and ran past them again, and we all stared at each other again. At least it explained why people used to tap me on the shoulder and start speaking to me as though I knew them. I think maybe I have one of those faces though. When I lived in York, I once had a meal in a resaurant there, only to look up and see that all the kitchen staff were lined up at the hatch looking at me. I tracked down the line of them until my eyes came to rest on a guy who looked just like me. He waved.

Anyway. This song was planted in my head by writing my piece for the letter "G" over on The Art Of Noise this week.

7. James Blunt - Goodbye My Lover (drum n' bass version)

I know he's not everyone's cup of tea, but I actually don't mind James Blunt (although if the Kaiser Chiefs and James Blunt are really the best things in the British music industry at the moment, then I'm a gerbil). This is my favourite song on the album, but it's not the album version that's stuck in my head - it's a glorious mash up with some banging drum and bass that I heard on the radio the other day, and that I seriously doubt is official. It's ace. It even has a guy going "Jungle is massif" on it and everything.

6. The Editors - Munich

Good song from a good album by a good band. In my head because it's being used by the BBC and Channel 4 for almost every trailer they show. I nearly picked "The Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin as well, for the simple reason that the BBC are playing it every 2 minutes in the trailers for that John Simm thing where he's a cop from 2006 trapped in 1973.

5. Blur - Blue Jeans

Proper old Blur this one. "Modern Life is Rubbish" was where Blur started to take their first tentative steps into the Mockney world that gave us "Parklife", but for every "For Tomorrow" or "Sunday, Sunday" on the album, there's a little melodic gem like this one.

"Air cushioned soles
I bought them on the Portbello Road on a Saturday"

I've just finished reading John Harris' book on Britpop ("The Last Party: Britpop, Blair & the Demise of English Rock") and I can only think this is in my head because of that. I had this on a tape with the first Suede album on the other side. I played it to death. The Suede album is better all the way through though - this one rather dies by the time it gets to "Villa Rosie", but it was a real taste of things to come. Alex James wanted punching even then....

4. Black - Wonderful Life

As you know, my iPod has been nicked, so I've been listening to the little shuffle-thingy I use when I go running. I don't change the tracks on it very often, and this song popped up from nowhere. It's a corker. I've no idea what else this guy did, but he's got a voice like honeyed velvet.

3. Richard Ashcroft - Break The Night With Colour

I quite liked some of his earlier solo singles, but I've never been tempted by any of the albums as they're supposed to be quite disappointing. Dare I say that I thought much the same thing about The Verve too? Mad Richard Ashcroft does have a good voice, and if he can avoid being pretentious, he can sound fantastic. This song just reached out through the radio and grabbed me. Lots of good "oooooh-oooooh oooohs" too, which always helps. I saw The Verve (in the days when they were just Verve) at Glastonbury on a sunny sunday afternoon in 1993. I didn't know anything about them at the time, and I remember mainly that Ashcroft took to the stage with no shoes on, and that they were pretty good. Mind you, Dodgy were on next that day, and I thought they were brilliant!

2. Johnny Cash - One Piece At A Time

It's about a bloke who, over the course of about 20 years, steals a car from the car assembly plant where he works. As the title implies, he does this one piece at a time (so it won't cost him a dime), and ends up with a "Psycho-Billy Cadillac".

Genius. Probably makes more sense when you listen to it though.

1. The Kinks - Lola

Ah, such sweet gender confusion. Further testament to the song writing genius of Ray Davies. I saw the Kinks performing at Glastonbury in 1993, with Ray Davies wearing a union jack jacket (a year after Morrissey was bottled off the stage at Finsbury Park for waving the flag, and a full year before Britpop reclaimed it via Noel Gallagher's guitar). They were great and this is the song that stuck in my mind. Dedicated to Alecya with thanks for the CD that is currently sitting in my car....


You'll be pleased to hear that I have sorted out a Guest Editor for next week. If he can tear himself away from his painting and decorating, Graham from Lonely-Town will be filling us in on what's been rocking his world. He's long overdue in this slot, so I'm looking forward to that.

Right. Dinner with the vicar - must dash.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

defend and attack

After last week's excitement, it was with some trepidation that I went down to Powerleague for our regular game of football this evening. I was rushing last week, so I left work a few minutes earlier than usual and made sure that I got there early enough to put my car right outside the main doors of the building. I was acutely conscious that I still have a hole in my passenger side door, and that presumably you now don't even need a drill to spring my central locking mechanism. So tonight I locked my laptop up at work, and made sure that I took all my CDs and stuff out of the car before heading into the building to pay for the pitch and meet up with the rest of the guys.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but I'm not the most gifted footballer in the world. In fact, I'm quite a long way from being the most talented footballer in the world. I'm relatively fit and can run around a lot, but I have the turning circle of a battleship, the touch of a large and clumsy rhino and the braking distance of the space shuttle.

But do you know what? I played an absolute blinder. There were 11 of us in total, and I was playing in the team of 5 against the team of 6 - so in theory we were in for an uphill struggle.... but I ran, I tackled, I danced, I passed, I backheeled....I pirouetted.... and I scored 5 goals, including a couple with my left-foot.

We lost; by a single goal in the end, but we lost. Hell, you can't have everything, right? At least this time my car and all of my stuff were still there waiting for me at the end.

All that and it was sausages for tea too.

What a great night!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I will be your Ferdinand and you my wayward girl

Blog of the Week #2 -- I have ordinary addictions

Allow me to introduce you to Mandy, a 28 year-old dreamer and idealist from Dallas, Texas.

For some reason I thought that finding good blogs for this feature would be really easy. How hard can can it be? There are millions of blogs out there, so it stands to reason that there must be some good ones, right? All you have to do is find them.

Ah. But that's the rub, isn't it? To find the good ones, you have to wade through oceans and oceans of turgid shite. How many knitting blogs can the world possibly need. I must have spent bloody hours trawling around looking for inspiration. I tried the "Next Blog" button, I tried using the interests in my profile, I tried using the directory on Britblog.... I tried loads of stuff. Just as I was on the point of despair though, I wandered into this one.

You know how when you are looking for a house, and you walk into somewhere and it just *feels* right? You get this feeling in your gut, and the whole place just feels, well, comfortable? I got that feeling here.

I have to say that I wasn't initally sure why. There's nothing wrong with the last couple of posts, but to a passing reader, I suppose there isn't anything obvious in them to make you want to hang around. Blah blah blah, the weekend, blah blah blah appointment with the urologist blah blah blah.

Something made me keep scrolling though... and I found a list of the albums of 2005. Hmm. Always worth a look. The White Stripes? Gruff Rhys? Sigur Ros? Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? Kaiser Chiefs? Bloc Party? Maximo Park? Clearly no ordinary resident of Texas.... a thought that is confirmed by a look in the biography.... she likes to sing along to Belle & Sebastian? Yay! (not to mention an apparent love of reading.... Becket, Hardy, Wilde, Salinger)

I sense a kindred spirit and I'm sold.

She also once baked cookies for the Super Furry Animals. Not a lot of people can say that (although whether or not they were the type of cookies that I imagine that lot *usually* eat, she didn't say....)

Blog of the Week.

Go say hello.

[Previous blog of the week: Delrico Bandito]


If you want to be considered for blog of the week, and you don't think I've seen your blog before --- email me a link and I'll go and have a look.

running through my head, running though my head

Alecya and Spins have now displayed theirs, so having been the one who laid down the challenge in the first place, it would be rude not to get mine out. I know I've been displaying rather a lot of myself around here lately, but a promise is a promise after all.

It's on my upper right arm (there's a wider shot of it here, and you can see it in situ here).

I had it done at a cool tattoo studio in Amsterdam when we were over there for Lord B's 30th Birthday a couple of years ago. C. knew it from when she was working over there, so once I'd decided to get one done, I waited until our next chance to go over and get it done. I knew roughly what I wanted to get done, but didn't have a specific design in mind. I flipped through their flash until I found this one, which I really liked. It didn't hurt much to get it done, and I had a good time chatting with the guys in there. It was an enormously positive experience, and I'd recommend it to anyone. I felt different from the moment the tattoo was complete. Not massively, but I definitely felt a little different, and I still do now.

I still haven't told my mum yet though. 31 years old and I hide it from my parents!

I'd have another one done too - a bear paw print - but I'm not sure where I'd have it done yet, and I'm not convinced I want it on the opposite arm. There's no rush though, and if I decide, I'll get it done the next time I'm in Amsterdam.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

something blocks the line again...

I've just had some photos scanned in, and I thought I would share them with you.

Sunday Morning @ Glastonbury 2002

This was the day of the 2002 World Cup Final, which was screened at the Pyramid Stage after Rolf Harris had finished his set. As I recall, I got very drunk on cheap red wine and danced my heart out as the Germans were beaten. This was earlier though, and as is my Sunday tradition at Glastonbury, Rich and I had got up before everyone else and headed over to the wind-powered cafe in the Green Fields for a cup of Organic coffee, a muffin and a read of the paper. Heavenly.

Monday Morning @ Glastonbury 2002

This was us packing up to go home on a drizzly monday morning. It's always a bittersweet kind of feeling. Obviously, the reason for including this picture is the hat. It was very cold at night that year. As a man for whom a cold head is something of an everyday hazard, I was well prepared for it. Lord B has rather more hair than me though, so he had to go and buy a hat. He went shopping on his own and came back with **that** hat.

He still has it, I believe. Isn't it lovely?

His arm? Oh, you'll have to ask him about it. All I'll tell you is that involved drunken dancing around a wine bar blasting out 80s classics when he was on the way back from watching Mystique. Yes I know I look like I'm just off for a round of golf. What of it?

September 1981

You might have seen this one before. This was me in September 1981, a few weeks before I was packed off to boarding school for the first time. One day playing soldiers in the garden, the next day being loaded into the car with a trunk and taken off to school. Everytime I look at this picture I can't believe how young I was.

The Swim

This was the swim where I nearly drowned, and I think you can see I look a little bit dazed as I'm helped out of the water. This was the last triathlon I did, actually - Emberton Park back in June. It was supposed to be my first proper practice in the wetsuit before the London Triathlon in August.... but of course, it wasn't to be. The photo was taken by the official photographer, and I've only just got round to ordering some copies before they deleted them.

The Cycle

Straight out of the water and onto the 20km cycle. This was the first runout for my new bike, and it was pretty good. I actually overtook a few people - something that never happened when I was still using my mountain bike.

The Run

I don't actually have a picture of the run from Emberton Park, but this is me running into the finish at the Southwell Triathlon a couple of years ago. I cannot tell you how hard it is to pick your knees up and try to kick for a sprint finish. The brain is willing, but the legs just will not respond.... that's why you wear sunglasses really..... they hide my widly rolling eyes.


I'm not sure there's anything much else I can say after that, is there?

Friday, January 06, 2006

All Alone, I Sit Home By The Phone Waiting For You.. Baby.

I suppose I've been pretty cheerful today, all things considered. I've not got much work done, but I have spent most of the day being endlessly entertained by the bureaucracy that has been generated by yesterday's robbery. My own personal highlight was when I rang the company helpdesk to report the theft (in spite of the fact that my laptop is protected by power on passwords, hard disk passwords, windows passwords, email passwords, intranet passwords and the like, apparently they also need to do things like reroute my email so that no one can hack my computer and pretend to be me, and stuff like that... what-evah).

"I need to fill out a Security Incident Report."
"I'll email you the database link."
"What to the email address you just changed on a computer I don't have? Thanks - that would be great"

Tee Hee.

Anway. Life goes on, and as this is a Friday, that means it's time to turn our attention towards the man who will be leading this week's homage to the Earworm God.

Ladies & Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present to you.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #31 - Del from Delrico Bandito

Lists, glorious lists. Thank you Toni for giving me an excellent excuse to make yet another one. Having spent the last week listening to my fave tracks of 2005, it's no real surprise that I'm now sick to the back teeth of them all. So whilst there are current tracks, there's also a fair share of random tracks that have just popped up via my subconscious, presumably my brain's reaction to hearing 'Hounds Of Love' by the Futureheads for the 400th time. Stupid brain.

10. The London Symphony Orchestra - 'Theme from Super Mario Brothers'

Oh yes, you read that right. One of the most renowned and respected orchestras in the world playing a Nintendo video game song. With some aplomb, at that. Takes me back to long, hot summer days... shut away inside playing on my cousin's NES. With no regrets. First heard on a mix by Cuechamp of various Video Game inspired tunes called 'Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.' A wonderful piece of music, perfectly rendered.

9. Defender - 'Bliss'

Also known as Alan Braxe and Fred Faulke, half of Stardust and the charming chaps who did that 'Intro' tune a few years ago. Lovely funky French house, with a flute line on it! Altogether now... "Do the Hustle!" A B-Side it may be, but let's not forget that's where 'I Will Survive' started out...

8. Betty Boo - 'Where Are You Baby?'

Sigh. Betty Boo. How happy was I to find her classic debut album on vinyl in a charity shop for a matter of pence? Very happy. Indeed. 'Doing The Doo' is an all time classic, but this track is just perfect pop. I used to fancy her something rotten, too. She wrote all the songs herself, y'know. Now she writes them for everyone else. Beautiful and loaded, with the common sense to stay out of the limelight? My knees have gone all wobbly.

7. Nas Feat Billy Joel - 'NY State Of Mind (Lights Out Remix)'

It's kind of obvious to remix Nas's Illmatic classic LP highlight with the Billy Joel track of the same name. Doesn't stop it being bloody funny though! Mr Kelis raps his oh so scary gangsta rhymes over a helium voiced Billy, emoting like a don. Absolutely hilarious! Beats Jay Z sampling 'Hard Knock Life' into a cocked hat.

6. Royksopp - 'What Else Is There? (Thin White Duke Remix)'

Oh just how lovely is this? "And then flashlights, and explosions..." A great record from Royksopp's latest LP made even nicer by the genius behind Madonna's 'Hung Up', Jacques Lu Cont. Stuck in my head with glue or something, thanks to plenty of choice plays on the Big One FM.

5. Bloc Party - 'Positive Tension'

Best bit on Silent Alarm is the explosion in the middle of this tale of stale love gone wrong... "Why'd you have to get SO F***ING USELESS!" And whoosh, like a train, it's off. Fantastic.

4. Fleetwood Mac - 'Everywhere'

Another delicious record. And another charity shop find, this time on a delightfully crackly 7inch. They knew how to do quality pop records back in 1987, and they were proper pop star potty as well. They don't make ‘em like this any more. Great work all round.

3. UNKLE Feat Richard Ashcroft - 'Lonely Soul'

Having lost my mp3 player to the great electrical goods store in the sky after dropping it whilst drunk, *sniff*, I've had to use my own memory to keep me amused on the way to work. As I wandered across the ever pristine Fitzroy Square this morning, this twisted ballad was busy whirring through my mind. Off the original UNKLE album Psyence Fiction, that I still don't know quite what to make of, nearly a decade on from it's release. Ambitious yet flawed. Although I'm no great fan of our Dickie, this is a great performance:

I believe there's a time when the cord of life
Should be cut, my friends (cut the cord, my friend)
I believe there's a time when the cord can be cut
And this vision ends (let this vision end).

But I'm gonna die in a place that don't know my name
And I'm gonna cry in a space that don't hold my fame.

Looking forward to work then were we, Delboy? That said, my favourite bit is the far more cheerful coda, which lifts the whole song into a much more optimistic place. Boss.

2. Glenn Miller and his Orchestra - 'In The Mood'

As heard on the Dr Who episode with Chris and Billie, set in wartime London with the scary people in gas masks. "Are you my mummy?" What an amazing piece of music, almost ruined by Jive Bunny, but mercifully it's emerged intact now that the sorry debacle of the Mastermixers is long behind us. I mean, it's just dance music without the computers, isn't it? Sure, the clobber, the language and the beats have all changed, but if you wanna escape, you just need to get on the dancefloor. Let's jitterbug baby.

1. Hi_Tack - 'Say Say Say (Waiting For You)'

Ah, and some superb modern day escapism from the most appropriately named artist... ever! This is cheesier than Tiffany drowning in Dairy Lee, but all the better for it! Doing my fave trick of taking the best bit of a great record, and just looping it over and over again, it's more addictive than crack, and probably about as much good for you. Oh well. You can't beat a bit of Jacko and Macca. Pretty much makes me jump ten feet in the air every time I hear it, which is rather inconvenient at work, cos I end up covered in dust and ceiling tiles. Still, well worth it.


Hope that fits the bill ok for you! Thanks again for asking me to do it (and the Blog of the week posting). Great fun. Lists rock!


Thanks Del - what a great list to kick of 2006. A little bit of this, a little bit of that... and Betty Boo. Nice and eclectic. Just the way we like it around here. I seem to be playing it a bit fast and loose this year in telling you who is going to be editing next week. Well. Nevermind. You'll just have to live with the suspense, eh.

Now if you'll excuse me, I reckon I've earned a pint... and then I'm calling the insurance company.

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005]