Got Your Big Plate, Jez?

Regular readers will know that at any possible opportunity, I will post something from the back catalogue of Alan Partridge Esq.

Usually, it’s this:

But I’m not posting that today. Oh, hang on…

No. For today, I want to start off by referencing my favourite episode of I’m Alan Partridge: Series 1, Episode 2, Alan Attraction, an episode which I think is probably the funniest of any sitcom ever.

Here’s how wiki explains the plot:

Without a second series of his programme, Alan is nearing bankruptcy and chooses to fire the staff at his company, Peartree Productions, rather than downsize his car. However, when the staff ask him if he has a second series, Alan panics, and tells them that he has been successful. While the staff prepare a party, and Jill, his flirtatious, chain-smoking, 50-year-old, divorced receptionist (Julia Deakin) goes out to buy some snacks, Alan tries to extricate himself by firing staff members for various “offences,” such as leaving an unwashed coffee cup on the table and rolling eyes. Whilst he locks himself in his boardroom, the staff leave. Jill returns, wondering where everyone has got to (he tells her they have gone to a spice museum) and the two go on a date to a nearby owl sanctuary, where Alan’s attempts at conversation bewilder Jill. In the evening, the two attend a Valentine’s Day dinner at the Travel Tavern, where Alan makes a fool of himself by badly singing “Close To You” by The Carpenters for her with the hired band, and Lynn attempts to sabotage Alan’s evening with the uncouth Jill. Alan and Jill go to his room. Alan attempts to have sex with Jill while providing a running commentary and attempts a discussion of the pedestrianisation of the Norwich city centre to delay ejaculating. Jill’s attempt at eroticism with chocolate mousse makes him angry so he ends his liaison with her. At the radio station that night, he announces on-air that he has sacked her.

There’s so many brilliant clips which stem from that.

Firstly, this:

And also this, for my money not just one of the finest comedy moments played out (almost) completely in the dark, but one of the finest comedy moments ever:

“Let battle commence!”

“Do you…er…like me doing that…? Shall I do it more quickly, or maintain the same speed…?…Shall I move on to the other one…?”

“That’s lovely…that’s first class…that…that is superb…ohh there you go..it’s all happening….”

“Jill, you know your onions….!”

“People need access to Diiixxxxons…..”

“Wheeeeeeeeeeeeelchairs!”

It’s all in blackout, but the genius is that we can all picture exactly what is happening, even if we’d rather not, thanks very much.

And why am I mentioning all of this, I hear you yawn?

Well, some of you may recall that several months ago I wrote about how I was going to have to temporarily vacate my flat whilst some subsidence-related structural work was done to it.

This has been rumbling along for over a year now, with no real end game in sight, but suddenly it’s all happening, and the day that I have to vacate my flat and be placed in temporary accommodation is today.

Back in April, the company charged with the task of rehousing me sent me a clutch of links to six apartments they had access to – three one bedroom, three two bedroom – and basically asked that I take my pick.

I would post a link to them now, but having tried to look at them whilst writing this post, I find that the link comes with one of those “site unsecure” warnings that people who click on dubious links will be familiar with, so I won’t bother. Maybe they can appear in the Comments if anyone’s really interested (which I doubt).

Suffice it to say that, frankly, the apartments looked amazing, and certainly better than my own flat.

I bit their hands off. “Any of those are fine!” I told them.

Before those flats were offered to me, I had some questions to ask of the insurance company, chiefly revolving around any extra costs I was going to incur whilst I was absent from my flat – if there’s no facility to cook, I will have to either eat out or get takeways, will I be reimbursed for this? And if there’s no laundry facilities in the apartment, will I be reimbursed for the cost of going to the laundrette? – but these were mostly answered by the apartments I was offered. All of them had a kitchen area, a dishwasher, a washing machine and a tumble dryer.

But all of the apartments were in central London and I live way out in the outskirts, in Zone 4, and I work even further out, in Zone 5. I get the bus to and from work, at a cost of £3.00 a day, but to travel from Zone 1 to Zone 5 and back every day would be considerably more expensive.

The Fatima Mansions – Only Losers Take The Bus

I bought that record on 12″, on the back of seeing this clip on the much missed SNUB TV:

But I digress.

So whilst I told the insurers that all of the apartments on offer were perfectly accceptable, I would need assurances that I would be reimbursed any additional commuting costs I might incur.

Sometimes I wish I had kept my mouth shut, for I have now been offered the considerably less salubrious, but much closer, surroundings of….a local Travelodge.

Time for me to rock this bad boy out:

and this tune:

The Big Dish – Where Do You Live?

At the time of writing, I am still in negotiations with the insurers about the internet access I get in such grand surroundings. According to the website, I get 30 minutes a day free or get charged £3.00 for 24 hours (or, as they try to big it up: “30 minutes FREE or £3 for 24 hours”); I pay a monthly fee to my broadband provider to have unlimited Wi-Fi, and so to my mind, they either reimburse me the cost I am paying to continue that (even though I can’t use it), or they agree to pay the £3.00 a day so I have the same whilst I’m re-accommodated.

And trust me: I work in insurance, I know exactly what I’m entitled to.

Anyway, what I’m building up to say is that until that’s sorted, things might be a little quiet round these parts. I’m trying to write as many posts as I can before the big day, but it may that be after today nothing happens around here until early December, when I’m currently rescheduled to return to my home.

So, more soon, I just don’t know when.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

When I last posted something by this morning’s artiste, I was less than complimentary about the film to which he had provided the title track.

Until that point, I had never heard of Sturgill Simpson, and if I’m honest, I had assumed he wasn’t a real Country performer. Rather, because I was so disappointed by the film in question, I thought he was some made-up dude, an extension of a joke the film director was making that I really didn’t understand.

Wrong!

The other day on Twitter, somebody that I follow (I can’t remember who, or I’d give credit) mentioned how great his new album Sound & Fury is. So I investigated, and it really, really is.

This isn’t from that album, it’s from 2016’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, and it’s a cover version, but bloody hell it’s good:

Sturgill Simpson – In Bloom

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Another repeat posting tonight – this is what was going to appear last week until I had a change of heart.

Oh, the ignomy of being bumped in favour or Embrace….

In fact I’ve posted this song more than once before, but boy oh boy is this a song which deserves a revisit.

Back in the early to mid 2000s, when Llŷr and I shared the flat of filth, we used to buy The Guardian every Saturday, not because of any political leanings (although we pretty much agreed on that too), but because of The Guide, a little booklet which came with the paper, and provided an overview of the week’s important cultural moments.

Specifically, we were both obsessed with Charlie Brooker’s Screen Burn column, where the man who is now perhaps best known for being the co-creator of Black Mirror (or for being married to former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, depending on your own private obsessions) would provide scathing, savage dissections of whatever he had seen on TV that week. Whichever of us bought the paper had first dibs at reading it, would flick immediately to Brooker’s column, and then sit either openly guffawing or shuddering in giggles until the other gave in and asked that they read aloud what was making them laugh so much.

Every now again, sealed inside the same plastic bag The Guide came in, was a CD, and so it was that I we first came into possession of some songs by Nick Cave.

(Actually, as I’m writing this now I think that it might have been with The Observer. Doesn’t matter really, I don’t think. Point is, it was a freebie.)

I’d never really listened to Nick Cave at this point; I’d heard the records my brother had when we were in our teens, back when Cave was churning out much more gothic, and to these ears, unpleasant noise, and had decided he wasn’t for me.

But I was aware that his sound had matured over the years, and so we gave the CD a listen.

And heard what remains one of my favourite songs. Ever.

It was, I think, the first song on the CD, and I lost count of how many times we repeat played it, so blown away by it were we.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Into My Arms

And it still hits me every time. But now for different reasons.

Before Llŷr passed, whenever I heard that record, I would be astonished by its beauty, its intellectual and existential qualities counterpointing its simplicity.

But when I hear it now, all I can think of is that Saturday morning, when we sat with the sunlight streaming into our living room, silent as it played, followed by either one of us saying: “I think I need to hear that again.”

More soon.

Here I Am

My one great regret about writing this blog is that I no longer seem to be able to keep up with reading all that my blogging peers have written recently.

People I have shared flats with will testify that it used to be the case that once I got home from work, the first thing I would do would be to fire up my laptop (or PC as it was at the time), and check in on all my favourite folk, see what they’ve been up to and what they’ve been listening to.

But for the last couple of years, this routine has fallen by the wayside. Instead, every month or so – and often, not even that frequently – I’ll swoop by all those that I know, or who have commented here, or who contributed to The Chain back in the day, to catch up with what’s being going on with them. And hopefully pick up a few tips about tunes I don’t know about.

Over the last week, I’ve tried to rectify that, and found that many of my blogging buddies have been going through some hard times of late, and I feel terrible that until now I’ve not provided the same kind of support as they did to me, when I was taken ill last year, and then when I lost my best friend earlier this year.

Back before I started blogging, I didn’t realise the importance of leaving Comments on blogs I read, so I never left one. Not one.

But having been through some hard times myself and received such kind messages, I can tell you how much it means to know there are people out there – that I’ve never met and probably never will – who are decent, respectful and supportive. As one of my greatest allys has found recently, it’s so easy to forget in this world of online existence, where trolling and unpleasantness is often the norm, that there are far more nice, honourable people out there than there is the opposite.

This isn’t a pathetic plea for more comments here, this is an apology to all those who have commented and to whom I’ve not reciprocated until recently, when it’s way too late.

I wish I knew how to end this post. I’d love it to be something inspiring and uplifting, but I fear whatever I do will just come across as glib.

So I figured I’d embrace that. So here, by way of a truly shonky bit of clippage recorded so long ago that Tim Lovejoy still had hair (but was still an irritating twonk), is Alan Shearer doing what he does best: singing Labi Siffrie songs:

Hopefully ths won’t come across as pompous or self-important, but maybe it’s better way to sign off with a tune:

Adam Green & Binki Shapiro – Here I Am

More soon.

50 Ways to Prove I’m Rubbish #23

I’ll be honest, when I started writing this series, the plan was that they would culminate at or around my 50th birthday.

And here we are in November, over a month after my landmark moment, and I haven’t even got halfway yet.

In fact, I haven’t even written one in over a month.

This is entirely indicative of my inability to plan ahead: you would think that having hit upon the idea of writing 50 posts about 50 records I disliked when they were first released but which I now love, you would think I would then spend a little time considering what those 50 tunes would be.

Not this guy. Oh no.

“It’ll be fine,” I told myself , “they’ll just come to you,” .

And this slap-dash for no cash approach was proven to be true this week when watching the inspiration for many things I post here: the reruns of Top of the Pops on BBC4.

These repeats are now into 1988, and thankfully a period where less controversial Radio 1 DJs feature, so fewer editions have been wiped from the running order.

And specifically, to this song, which I remember thinking at the time was really rather dull, but now I see it for what it is: one of the finest soul records from the past 30+ years.

Put it this way (and I can think of no finer recommendation of any record): nowadays, when it comes on the radio I turn it up rather than down:

Womack & Womack – Teardrops

Actually, thinking about it, it might have been Love Wars that I really hated, but I was wrong about that too.

Anyway, more soon.

You Must Be Mad

Many of you will recall a sketch from The Fast Show called Jazz Club, where John Thompson, in a bowl haircut and a dodgy suit, would smoke woozy cigarettes and introduce the act with the word “Nice!” or “Great!” or…ah heck, here they all are:

I met John once, in a professional capacity. Back in the late 80s, around the time he was best known for being Fat Bob in Steve Coogan’s Paul Calf Video Diaries, he did a gig at our college, and I was charged with looking after him, making sure he got fed and watered, and then introducing him on stage. To this day, my Dad still refers to him as “Your mate…”.

Fewer of you, I suspect will recall the one-off Indie Club edition, this time hosted by Simon Day, who gave the featured band a thoroughly inaccurate intro:

In the late 1980s/early 1990s there were a lot of short-lived jingly jangly indie bands that I loved, and I’d count Bristol’s The Driscolls one of them.

They first came to my attention when my college buddy Keith became a little obsessed with Allie, a girl who said she was going out with the lead singer from the band.

I have no reason to doubt her, nor to question Keith’s taste, for she was a proper Indie chick of the time: bleach blond bobbed hair, bedecked in either paisley or polka dot outfits, Doc Martin boots. She used to come to the Indie Night I used to DJ, and I always sensed Keith’s seething rage that she would talk to me (asking for a certain record to be played, nothing more).

Anyway, here’s three tracks by the band that Allie’s boyfriend was in, all lifted from their eponymous 1989 six-track EP. All of these, but particularly the first one, would sit really sweetly in The Fast Show’s Indie Club

But stick with them, because I genuinely think that the third one is a lost late 80s Indie classic:

The Driscolls – Doctor Good and His Incredible Life Saving Soap

The Driscolls – Groovy Little Town

The Driscolls – You Must Be Mad

More soon. (Brian: you’ll love these.)

Sunday Morning Coming Down

It was my honorary Little Sister Hel’s birthday last week, and I couldn’t think of anything to post that was appropriate.

And then I remembered the last night when she and I shared a flat together.

When it became very clear that Hel and Neil were becoming a serious couple, I told Hel that she shouldn’t feel bad about moving out of the flat and leaving me behind, that she had to put her happiness first and foremost, that there would be no hard feeling from me when she did so.

You won’t be surprised to learn that we spent that final night getting horribly drunk together; still less surprised to find out that I had prepared a four hour long playlist to soundtrack the night; and probably even less surprised to learn that I ended the night passed out on the bathroom floor, having necked one (pint of) White Russian too many.

Anyway, this was the first song on the playlist, and as I recall as it began Hel turned to me and said: “Oh God, I’m going to cry all night,aren’t I?”

Yes probably, but don’t worry, I’ll be having a kip in the toilet, so no-one will know.

Kris Kristofferson – For The Good Times

More soon.