The Parting of the Ways (A Fond Farewell)

Before I started working in offices doing what I do now (the high-octane world of insurance), I spent many years working in the service industry, in shops and restaurants, and I was always struck with what utterly rude pricks people can be to people working in those kinds of establishments.

As a result, I’ve always made it a rule to be pleasant to people who assist me in shops (I hate the phrase “serve me”, even more so that they have to call me “Sir”) and it’s a philosophy that I’ve tried to carry over into office life: if you’re nice to people, generally they’re nice back. And if they recall that you’ve been nice to them, then usually they’re a bit more receptive and helpful when you have to ask them to do something. A “You scratch my back” scenario, if you will.

For the past couple of years, I’ve had the great pleasure of sitting near a chap called Peter. Now, Peter is one of the warmest, most charming, most relentlessly cheerful chaps I’ve ever had the pleasure to have met. We’re on the same wavelength sense of humour-wise, by which I mean he laughs at pretty much all of my terrible jokes and stories, without once ever giving the impression it was out of politeness. As time went on, I made it my mission to try and get him to crack up during a team meeting, which I could generally achieve by somehow crowbarring the phrase “pork sword” into the conversation.

We also share a common political view and musical tastes too; in a conversation a couple of years ago, I mentioned a band that I was going to see (Pop Will Eat Itself, I think, but don’t hold me to that) who he remembered from “back in the day”, and it led us onto a long chat about various other bands from that era that we both liked. He’s one of only two people that I work with that I have told that I write this, and I know he visits here every now and then. The first time he did, he read a review of a gig I’d been to at Brixton Academy, (Super Furry Animals, I think); he spoke to me the following week to offer encouraging words and to comment on the fact that he didn’t realise they sold beer in two pint glasses at gigs these days (To be fair, that’s the only place I’ve come across it).

And then, following on from my earlier post, there was a shared love of Dr Who; he had been genuinely excited when he found that I used to live in Cardiff (where much of the show is filmed since the reboot), and enthusiastically gushed about when he and his wife had gone on holiday and done a tour of the locations used in the show. When I revealed they had filmed some scenes involving David Tennant and Billie Piper riding a scooter on the street that I lived in, I thought he was going to explode.

I mention all of this, because Wednesday of this week was Peter’s last day working with us, a sad day for many of us who had the absolute pleasure of working with him. He was one of the victims of the recent restructure which I was lucky enough to survive. (We’re in different roles, so there’s no hard feelings.)

Actually, even if we had been doing the same job, I doubt there would have been any ill-feeling, such a positive, cheerful and down-right good chap that he is.

So, a tune to dedicate to him. I’ve tried to think of something relevant to post, but I can’t get past this song and video clip, which I have posted before, but since I can’t think of anything better, here they are again, but this time, for you Peter:

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Orbital – Doctor

And this:

Peter: stay in touch and best of luck in whatever you do next, mate.

Wait a minute. “Whatever you do next”? I know what you’re going to be doing next! The best kept secret in showbiz, that’s what. I mean, it can’t be a coincidence that you left work just days after Peter Capaldi’s last appearance as the titular Time Lord, now can it….?

More soon.

Which Reminds Me…

Two things I mentioned in that last post reminded me of songs, one of which I posted before, over a year ago, so it’s due having the dust blown off of it again:

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The Dickies – Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song)

The other is a song I’ve been meaning to post for absolutely ages, a song which, as with the above and The Monkees theme from the last post, takes me right back to those summer holidays and the old re-runs of shows from the 60s and 70s. It features a gorgeous, evocative sample from one of those shows, and that sample in turn provides the title of the song. Readers of a certain age will know exactly what I mean.

This is my favourite song by the band that happened in between the two phases of The Wedding Present, and I’ve always thought it to be exactly the sort of song that David Gedge split up the band to give himself the freedom to record:

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Cinerama – Crusoe

More soon.

Replenishing the Vinyl

Apologies it’s been a bit quiet round here this week; work has been busy and I’ve found myself of an evening ploughing through a load of TV shows that I’d recorded and never got round to watching (more about this later)…and then before I knew it, here we are at the weekend.

What I’m trying to say is: brace yourselves, there’s loads on the way over the next couple of days.

To kick things off, more musings on recently purchased vinyl, and another record which I had not previously owned but which when I saw it I had to own, since it was by a band who remind me so much of being a kid.

With the school summer holidays beckoning, I often find myself reflecting on how my childhood holiday mornings would usually start: sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the television, watching old re-runs of Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Robinson Crusoe, The Banana Splits, and this lot:

The Monkees-The Monkees

Truth be told, until I bought this recently I only really knew the three most well-known tracks:

The Monkees – I Wanna Be Free

(which certain records by Teenage Fanclub always remind me of)

and

The Monkees – Last Train to Clarksville

and, of course, this, which heralded the start of their TV show and signalled a whole lot of uninterrupted zany fun (The Banana Splits were definitely zany, but the show was punctuated with what were, to my mind, too many dull cartoons):

The Monkees – (Theme from) The Monkees

The rest of the songs are all much of a muchness, if I’m honest. Not bad, not great, but clearly for the most part created from the same template.

Here’s a full episode of their show, just in case you fancy recreating the moment too:

There’s a further reason why I’ve a soft spot for The Monkees: Micky Dolenz was the first celebrity I ever encountered. He was the special guest at the summer fete in the village I lived in, a friend of a local resident who happened to be over visiting  and who presumably got strong-armed into making an appearance.

Truth be told, I remember as much about that encounter as Dolenz probably does.

But thinking about it, perhaps that wasn’t my first celebrity encounter. A little earlier, I think, and for reasons that I’ve never really understood, actress Katy Manning – who played Jo Grant for three years alongside Jon Pertwee’s third Dr Who – visited our school.

This is Katy in her pomp:

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I was a little too young to remember her being in Dr Who (she left in 1973), but the show was most definitely something that was on my radar by the time she visited, already an object of my obsession throughout the Tom Baker years (I owned a Tom Baker doll action figure, a toy K-9, and a Tardis). So to meet with a real live companion of the Doctor’s blew my mind back then.

Anyway, when she met with the small group of kids I was with, I was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Dennis the Menace and Gnasher on it  (because I was super cool), and I remember her pointing at it and saying “Hey Dennis….Grrr!” (because she recognised me as being super cool).

What makes her visit all the more inexplicable is that this must have been in the late 1970s, and thus probably around the time that she somewhat notoriously posed nude with a Dalek for a photo-shoot for ‘Girl Illustrated’ magazine in 1978. I say nude, but actually she was wearing a pair of boots given to her by Derek Nimmo.

Oh wait. Katy definitely wasn’t the first celebrity I ever met. That honour does, in fact, go to a Mickey, just not Micky Dolenz:

Mickey & Me (1)

Before any of you comment on what a pretty dress I have on, that’s me on the right, and so happy am I to meet the massive Mouse, I appear to have filled my shorts to absolute maximum capacity. Always knew how to make a good first impression, me.

Yeh, go on, laugh it up. I’m not the only one to find myself in such a situation:

More soon.