You may have missed this, but last week UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that “…Melton Mowbray pork pies, which are sold in Thailand and in Iceland, are currently unable to enter the US market because of, I don’t know, some sort of Food and Drug Administration restriction.”
The thing is, Melton Mowbray pork pies are not sold in Thailand and Iceland, as confirmed by The Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, who probably know what they’re talking about.
The pie currently holds EU protected status, which means that only 10 manufacturers can legitimately claim to produce the most famous of pork pies. Ironically, this protected status will, in all likelihood, be lost if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, leaving the door open for any number of non-UK manufacturers to claim they are the real purveyors of pastry products whilst actually making piss poor parodies of the pork pie, and thereby increase the risk of job losses within our own proud ground pork industry.
“Why are you talking about pork pies, Jez?” I hear you ask. I bet you’re thinking it’s just an excuse to post this:
Well, you’d be wrong.
It’s because, deliciously, Johnson had been caught telling pork pies about pork pies.
Question: How can you tell when Boris Johnson is telling a lie?
Answer: His lips are moving.
As I write this, our undemocratically elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson (remember when Brexit was all about standing up to those pesky, supposedly undemocratically elected EU ministers?) has stepped out of No 10 to make an annoucement, which had widely been expected to be that he was calling an election.
Of course, he said the opposite, and that he really, really doesn’t want to have an election. No: what he wants is to either be able to negotiate a new deal for Brexit with the EU, or failing that, to leave on October 31st without a deal.
That would be a different deal to the one which he voted in favour of at the third time of asking, by the way.
I think what he wants is a little more complicated than that, though.
What I don’t think he wants is to go down in the history books as the Prime Minister who took the UK out of the EU without a deal, because deep down he knows just how catastrophic that would be for our economy.
And how do we know that a No Deal Brexit is going to be catastrophic? Because today the Goverment launched its campaign to get us all ready to leave the EU at the end of October. It’s called Get Ready for Brexit and is reportedly costing the taxpayer around £100 million. That’s roughly double what the National Lottery spends on advertising in a whole year. Call me a cynic, but you don’t spend that kind of money on something which is going to be as great as leaving the EU was described to us as being in the build-up to the referendum.
For example: you’ll recall how former Brexit Minister Dominic Raab was derided for failing to understand the importance of the Dover-Calais crossing? Well, his replacement, Steve Barclay doesn’t seem to be that clued-up either: just last week he tweeted this:
Good idea Steve! Best to do it now, with two months left until the deadline, rather than, say, at any other time in the last three years!
It’s not just the Dover-Calais border which is going to be problematic post-Brexit, of course. The main bone of contention, of course, remains the Irish border, where the back-stop is written into the Withdrawal Agreement which Theresa May failed to get through Parliament on three not-very-different-really occasions: Johnson wants it scrapped, but the EU insist that there must be something in place to maintain the integrity of the Republic of Ireland, who will not be leaving the EU anytime soon
Johnson insists that he has several viable alternatives up his sleeve – I actually saw one (not credited to Johnson, I must admit) which suggested that the Republic of Ireland should temporarily give up its EU status so that no border checks are required, like the problem was all their making – and he told EU leaders as much when he did a flying visit last week, along with his attendance at the G7 summit. Their unified response was: “Okay, let’s hear them then”. Given that most of these have already been suggested, and dismissed as unworkable, I think we can understand their scepticism.
Nothing has been forthcoming as yet.
So what we have here is the biggest game of chicken you can imagine; Boris doesn’t want us to leave on No Deal, but he believes that to have any kind of leverage with the EU, he has to make them think that we are prepared to walk away without a deal, and that as a result they will make concessions. It’s a case of who’s going to blink first.
But it isn’t simply a case of staring down the EU, for there is – at last – some cross-party unity in trying to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal, and there can be little doubt that blocking them was the reason that Boris got the consent from Her Maj last week to close down (prorogue) Parliament in an effort to shut down any opposition to the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Don’t forget, that after the recent by-election in Brecon, the Conservative Party has a majority of just one, so he cannot afford any dissention amongst the ranks.
Obviously he didn’t say that was the reason for doing it (although he inadvertently alluded to it a day or so afterwards), because to openly admit it would be accepting that, having banged the drum in the build-up to the EU Referendum in 2016, citing “taking back control” of our sovereign Parliament as one of the main reasons for leaving, it would be rather inconsistent to then close Parliament to prevent it doing the job he claimed he wanted it to do.
It was interesting to note that certain Conservative MPs – Gove, Rudd, Javid, Hancock, Leadsom, Truss, Morgan – who, in the race to become leader of the Tory party, or since, had all been quite out-spoken against and critical about the idea of proroguing Parliament, now, satisfactorily bribed with positions within the Cabinet, were suddenly unavailable to do any press interviews.
I do love someone who uses pop records to make a point. It’ll never catch on though.
What I think Johnson massively underestimated was the outrage which prorogueing Parliament provoked across the country, and the determination of those MPs who wish to prevent No Deal are. For just because Parliament isn’t sitting, there is nothing preventing them from meeting elsewhere, which is exactly what I have read they are doing, the resourceful little scamps.
Over the weekend, there were whispers and rumours that any Conservative MP who rebelled against the Goverment by voting against them would have the whip withdrawn; in other words in the event of an election, they would not be permitted to stand as Conservative MPs. Instead, they would be replaced by a candidate who is fully on board with the party’s position.
And this tells us a lot. It reminds us that all of this has never really been about the EU, that’s just the backdrop against which all of this has been played. It’s never really been about curtailing immigration either, as there’s been nothing stopping us doing so for years had the inclination been there – certainly nothing the EU is insisting on anyway – our governments simply haven’t bothered to implement the rules which the EU have introduced. It hasn’t even been about dodging the EU laws to close tax-avoiding loop holes, although that’s certainly a benefit the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg would enjoy.
No, all of this has been about the survival of the Conservative Party, firstly in the face of the challenge from UKIP which led to then-Prime Minister David Cameron (who, allegedly, also had a somewhat unsavoury relationship with pork), and now it is about the challenge from the party which has replaced UKIP, The Brexit Party, led by the same (self-appointed, undemocratically elected to the position of party leader) foe, Nigel Farage.
It’s not just the EU that Boris is trying to out-stare: it’s the whole of the British electorate, or, more specifically, those who are likely to switch from voting Tory to Brexit Party. He needs them to think that his position on the EU is the same if not stronger than theirs, which he hopes will nix any allegiance swapping ideas those pesky pensioners might be having.
And that’s why I think we’re probably going to have an election before the 31st October, whilst Johnson can still maintain the facade that he wants No Deal, and whilst he can point the finger elsewhere: he’s told us he doesn’t want an election and now, if the cross-party conglomerate are succesful in blocking No Deal before Parliament closes, then the finger can be pointed squarely at them.
Whatever happens next, the sad thing is that it’s too late to put all of the division, the hatred, the racism which Brexit has unquestionably stirred up back in the box.
As you may have gathered, Llŷr and I went to many, many, oh-so-many gigs together. Beforehand, we would often discuss which songs from the act in question we most wanted to hear.
We never planned to do this, but after we did it once, we did it every time.
For when one of those desired songs got played, after the applause had died down, one of us would shout “Streets of London!”, and then the other would do the same, slightly more angrily, followed by the other, and so on, until we collapsed in fits of giggles.
We both loved the sketch show Big Train, and in particular this, just shy of a minute and a half of utter comedy genius:
Still makes me laugh, that, and I must have watched it hundreds of times by now. And heard it even more; I have the audio of it on my iPod so it crops up every now and then – and in case you hadn’t realised and want to do the same, there’s a link to download an mp3 of it right there for you. (Ditto the Partridge post from a couple of days ago). I’d heartily recommend having things which make you laugh unexpectedly pop into your ears from time to time.
Right, you can all stop checking the time, here it is, three weeks late, but that’s better than another super-long hiatus, surely?
More mega than a fleet of MegaBuses, yes! It’s time to check the buffering capabilities of your hardware and internet provider as we launch into the latest instalment of The Chain.
And what a selection we have for you this week!
But before we get started, some admin. The more observant of you will have spotted a new page link over there on the left entitled “The Chain – The Rules”. You’ll never guess what you see if you click that!
I mention this because there would have been a couple of disqualifications this week for (unintentional) breaches of the rules; luckily one of the transgressors realised and suggested an alternative link.
The easiest rule to break is suggesting a song which has already featured, and I appreciate with around 1000 songs having featured so far this can be somewhat tricky to keep up with. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the process of writing up a definitive list of every song which has featured so far, but until I’ve got round to finishing that (and writing The actual Chain takes up a fair bit of time when I could be doing that), if you want to check your options are:
1) Read every previous edition of The Chain (bit time consuming that one)
2) Check the Tags down the left-hand side; if the act you wish to suggest is not listed there, then you’re fine (assuming I remembered to add them, of course). If it is listed, click their name and you’ll be taken to every page that a song by them has featured on and you can check that way.
3) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check and get back to you.
OK, admin over, let’s remind ourselves of the source record for this week:
The biggest source of linkage this week was the “Echo” part of the song title, so let’s get cracking with one of mine. Since an echo is something happening again, this seems to be an appropriate place to start:
So, who else provided echo-based suggestions? Well, here’s Alex G of the temporarily (I hope) dormant We Will Have Salad to provide not just a suggestion, but also a definition of “echo”, which saves me the bother of having to copy and paste something from an online dictionary to justify some of the other suggestions I’ve come up with:
“… an echo is an acoustic phenomenon caused by sound bouncing off walls. And ceilings. And other things. But it’s the first one which concerns us here, because it leads me to suggest….”
Unsurprisingly, several of you (well, five actually) proposed records by Echo & The Bunnymen, so we may as well get one of those out of the way next, and it’s over to Swiss Adam of Bagging Area fame, with his second suggestion. (No, you haven’t blinked and missed his first, that’s coming in a while. It’s called editing.)
“Echo and the Bunnymen…sang ‘Silver (Tidal Wave)’, a beach connection there too.”
Yes indeed, that’s your first – of many, it has to be said – double linkers of the week right there. Points!
Next to one of several songs this week that I had never heard of before the suggestions came flooding in, this one courtesy of The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow who proposed this by Cavern of Anti-Matter who, for the uninitiated (i.e. me), are Joe Dilworth and Tim Gane, formerly of Stereolab, possibly one of the most missed and most under-rated (if that’s not a contradiction, and if it is, I’m sure it’s one which would please them immensely) bands of the last twenty years or so:
I like that. A lot. Thanks for nudging it under my nose, Swede.
Which leads us quite nicely onto another suggestion by Alex G:
“When they recorded ‘Echo Beach’, Martha And The Muffins’ drummer was one Tim Gane. Another Tim Gane was more famously (not *much* more famously, I admit) the lead guitarist of McCarthy and Stereolab. [I just told them that – Ed] So I’ll go for….”
“…double link there if I’m not mistaken…” pleads Alyson. Hmmm…Echo, yes…Seas -> Beach…what do you reckon, Chain Gangers? Oh go on then: Points!
I first posted that song way back in August 2015, accompanied by a retelling of one of the many faux pas I’ve committed over the years. Since some of you may not have frequented these pages that long ago, indulge me for a moment whilst I relate this one, which took place circa 1984, as I waited for the school bus and found myself chatting to one of the “cool kids” at school. He liked cool music (i.e. not Quo) and during this conversation he extolled the virtues of ‘Seven Seas’. My response, a rather pathetic and, as it transpired, ill-judged, attempt to ingratiate myself, was to talk at length about the lead singer fire-eating on Top of the Pops and how impressive he was. I realised mid-flow that my conversation piece was attracting some quizzical looks. And that was because I had completely mis-heard him. When he had said ‘Seven Seas’, I had thought he had said this song title:
Not cool, just…not.
Anyway, moving swiftly on, here’s Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life with the scecond song this week that I’ve never heard before. Over to you Walter:
“They might be forgotten but this song is still worth to listen to sometimes…”
Actually, that was Walter’s second suggestion. His first was for an Echo & The Bunnymen track, and I think enough time has passed since the last one to allow me to post his, which needs no introduction:
Which leads us on to a very brief sub-category, those of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves. This is by far my favourite category of the week. You’ll see why. Julian from Music from Magazines suggested this, which probably doesn’t need any further explanation:
The Quo, there, demonstrating on the record sleeve their renowned empathy for the Black Power movement.
And that brings to an end that sub-category of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves.
You know what I haven’t said for a while? I haven’t said the words: “And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by *insert name of Chain Gang member here*“. I feel an overwhelming need to say it again. But not just yet. I’ll wait til I’m asked.
And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by Dirk from sexyloser with the closest we’ve had to a Showboating Suggestion so far:
“Nominated to be one of the world’s most beautiful beaches back in 2012, 2014 and 2015 was Burundi’s coast fronting Lake Tanganyika: if you’ve never been there, you really have missed a treat, I can tell you!
So obviously the correct link can only be Echo & The Burundimen (yes, it’s the Bunnymen in disguise, but still I haven’t made that [name] up, just listen to McCulloch’s intro!) and ‘Zimbo’, the 1982 Shepton Mallet live version though!”
And that does bring us to the end of the Echo section. Except…
Except, you’ll recall that I mentioned five of you had suggested songs by Echo & The Bunnymen, and so far we’ve only had four. Well, GMFree suggested their rather wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ but then ploughed through the entire history of suggestions in The Chain and retracted that on the grounds that it had featured back in #31 so I wouldn’t have been able to allow it. (Oh, and whilst I’m on songs I couldn’t allow – Lynchiefromab, if you check the Comments in the last Chain, you’ll see that I wasn’t sure if yours were suggestions or just recommendations; if the latter then, thank you, and you’re right, but if the former than I couldn’t allow either of them as they contravene rule No. 6: “Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist. You’re cleverer than that.” And I know that you are. Sorry!) However, GMFree did propose a different Echo & The Bunnymen track, a cover version, but suggested that I might post the original instead, since the performers have never featured in The Chain before.
In case you’ve no idea what Jules is blethering on about, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is the best known stage name of Will Oldham, but he has also recorded under variations of the Palace name, including the Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, and Palace Music. As you know, I prefer it if there’s only one suggestion per person for the same band, but since these two versions are so different, and since they were recorded under different monikers, and since I allowed GMFree to suggest more than one tune by Steven Jones last week for the same reason, I guess I’ll have to let it slide this time.
Speaking of GMFree and Steven Jones:
“Mentioning Mr Jones is too easy on this occasion as Babybird was signed to the Echo label, instead I’ll just suggest one track from his 27th (!) album as Black Reindeer…available through Bandcamp.”
Now, I wouldn’t normally buy a track specifically for The Chain, preferring the suggester to provide me with a copy, but I was intrigued by that title so I downloaded that song from the band’s Bandcamp page, as recommended. And shortly afterwards, I got an email from Steven Jones which read: “Ooh a bit topical that purchase Sx”. Which was nice. So I’ll not complain about being out of pocket. This time.
You’d have to have had your head buried in the (beach) sand to not understand what he was referring to, and as it happens, this was not the only track which referenced the forthcoming apocalypse.
“‘Echo Beach’ puts me in mind of the 1959 film ‘On the Beach’, which depicts the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war. (Not a surprising image, considering the current state of affairs, I suppose.) The film stars Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins and is based on Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel. Anyway, as I’ll use any excuse to post some black gospel quartet music, my selection is the 1950 ‘a capella’ version of…”
Well, bar that last little excursion, we appear to not only be in nuclear war related territory – cheerful! – but also Beach related, so let’s have some more of those. And since that last song contains the lyric “Hello New Order!”, it seems appropriate for us to go back and find out what Swiss Adam’s other suggestion was:
“‘Echo Beach’ takes me to the remixed version of Blue Monday from its b-side in ’83…”
So, having exhausted all of the suggestions about echoes, beaches and, of course, Nazis and impending nuclear doom, we’ll move onto something a lot nicer. Back to Martin who suggests this as a double linker:
Which leads me onto this, a track lifted from one of those typically patchy tribute albums that were all the rage once upon a time one of those tribute albums, which were all the rage once upon a time, and which could (typically) be a little on the patchy side (and this one really is patchy).
In case you’re wondering what that’s doing there, give it a listen partly as there’s an extra verse, not in the original, which links to Martin’s last choice, but mostly because it’s an utterly wigged-out mental cover version.
And whilst we’re still on chocolate cake, it’s about time I posted another clip:
Right, that’s Muffins pretty much covered, right?
Well, actually, not quite. Here’s Rol from My Top Ten:
“Muffin was a Mule and a Mule is sort of like an Ass… though very slightly different.” Which brings us to, rather rudely:
Let’s have some Echo Beach/Martha and the Muffins facts to raise the tone a little.
Fact One: Martha and the Muffins are Canadian.
“Plenty of Canadian bands/artist to choose from,” chips in Rigid Digit of Stuff & Nonsense, “including: Rush (but who has time to listen to the whole of Side 1 of ‘2112’?), Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. All too obvious, but this bunch of Canadian one-hit wonders…:”
“Did you know,” pipes up George, inadvertently providing Fact Two, “that Echo Beach has been voted the 35th greatest Canadian song of all time? The greatest song is the execrable song ‘Four Strong Winds’ by Ian and Sylvia, which must surely get the Worst Song vote.”
Well, I’ll happily do that George, although you realise that would mean you’d have to agree the Chas & Dave record is better…? Along with two other songs yet to feature that we all know you’ll hate….?
Four strong winds, you say? Here’s four in varying levels of strength.
The ease and squeeze:
2. The Pant Ripper (a classic):
3. The Preposterously Executed:
and 4. The Accidental Decongestant:
Right, that’s…erm…got that out of my system. More factoids please!
Fact Three, courtesy of babylotti:
“‘Echo Beach’ was released in 1980 on DinDisc records, another record that was released in 1980 on Dindisc records, and one that I still have (okay, it was a re-release in 1980, but that’s the one I have) is…:
Before we get on to the final category, time for those two songs which George won’t like, the first of which is suggested by Alyson, and I think this one wins the award for Comment Showboat of the week (or have I already awarded that? I don’t know, I’m tired…). George, sorry, I was going to leave these two till last to make it easier for you to ignore them, but thematically they kind of need to be posted earlier.
Anyway, here’s Alyson’s suggestion:
“Martha’s Vineyard is actually a small island off the State of Massachusetts. It faces out onto the Atlantic and it’s where they filmed ‘Jaws’. The fake shark they used for the movie was given the name Bruce.” Which leads us to:
And so on to the final category, songs which link to Martha. And we’ll start off with my own double-linker for the week.
There’s a well known phrase in certain communities: “Is he Arthur or Martha?”. Well, here’s an Arthur, Arthur Lee to be precise, and he and his band are going to sing a Love-Lee song which has an Echo/Repeat/Again link too. Points please!
“First thought – got Martha on my mind now so I’d like to offer one of those songs that surely everybody knows and surely everybody likes? What better time for an office clerk with a very boring job to go down to Echo Beach than during a heatwave, too?”
Next up on the oche is The Robster from Is This The Life? Now, a few weeks ago, Rob announced that he was thinking about stopping writing his blog as he was feeling devoid of inspiration and was just going through the motions. I’ve often felt the same about this place, and I know others in our little blogging community have too. You may not know that Rob lives not a million miles away from where I used to in South Wales, and I love his blog for it keeps me in touch with what’s going on down in and around my old stomping ground so I’m delighted that he’s decided – for now – to keep going, albeit with less frequent posts.
I mention all this not to put any unintentional pressure on him to carry on, but because having cut back on his posts he seems to have gone a bit stir crazy, suggesting “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis Group on the basis that Martha & The Muffins were an all-male band. Getting confused by that whole “Arthur or Martha” issue there, I think.
To be fair, Rob did correct himself almost immediately (with a little help from Alex G, who I can confirm is not a qualified doctor, but is a very keen enthusiast), and redeemed himself by suggesting this, another of the records I’d never heard before, and which I’m really quite pleased that I have now. And it’s a double pointer, featuring as it does a Martha and “two items you might see at a beach”:
Time for Abramson60 next, who…erm…echoes some of the sentiments raised earlier:
“Looks like things are getting worse and worse US of A side, can it really get any worse? My suggestion this week could well be aimed at that excuse for a human being, Trump. No need to explain the link?”
Nope, but this young lady certainly needs to wash her potty-mouth out with soap and water:
Another from Alex G now, who suggests “…a lovely song which is never played on the radio because if it was, everybody would stop what they were doing to listen, at a cost to the UK economy of several squillion pounds.”
I agree, it is a lovely song, although I suspect were it played more often, people would stop what they were doing to remember when – and I’m sorry to bring it up again (I’m not in the least bit sorry, as it goes) – this happened:
More from Rol next, who suggests this next song on the grounds that a) it has the word “Martha” in the title, b) it doesn’t have any other words in the title, and c) he “…can’t believe nobody’s suggested it yet…”
And the presidential links don’t end there, for there was also of course Martha Jefferson, wife to Thomas, who became 3rd President of The United States in 1801. Martha would have been the third First Lady, had she not rather inconveniently died in 1782. Anyway, this Martha leads me to this ground-breaking house record from 1986:
And the other is…well, Mrs GMFree was not alone in suggesting it, for it was also proposed by Rigid Digit (and I thought one other person too, but I’m buggered if I can spot who it was now. If you suggested it and I have omitted to credit you, make yourself known and I’ll amend this bit).
Which means that for the first time ever, we have two people correctly guessing the next record in The Official Chain, which, with the simple explanation of “From one Martha to another…” is this:
So to wrap things up, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “Martha My Dear” by The Beatles, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition. Whenever that might be.