Bad News Comes in Threes

When, at the end of January, I first posted about my best friend Llyr’s passing, it attracted many lovely comments.

Something happened last week which reminded me of one them, which JTFL (that’s Johnny the Friendly Lawyer to you and me) had posted: “Oh, man. It really pours.”

For just as I thought my year couldn’t get any shittier, a letter from the letting agency I rent my flat through landed on my doormat.

This is what it said:

Please find enclosed an official notice confirming that possession will be required at the end of the notice period.”

The notice informed me I had two months in which to find somewhere else to live and, somehow magically, conjure up a deposit/bond for the new place.

I believe the phrase is: Oh. Fuck.

Some background info: last year, after six years of me not exactly complaining about cracks in the walls and ceiling, but certainly mentioning it to the letting agency I rent through, suddenly something happened. The matter was referred to the landlord’s buildings insurers, who did some testing, identified the issue and rectified it.

They now wished to come into my flat, do whatever repairs were required, and then redecorate.

This is quite an unusual situation for a tenant; usually any redecoration happens between tenancies, but here was an insurance company offering to redecorate whilst a tenant was in situ.

Obviously, I wanted to assist, and it was agreed that I would vacate the flat for a short period, roughly two weeks, whilst the works were done. All of my worldly belongings would be placed into storage, and I would be placed in a Travelodge or similar for the duration.

Inconvenient though it was, I was on board with this. To be honest, I was looking forward to an Alan Partridge “Big Plate” kind of scenario.

So I started packing all of my stuff away.

And then I was admitted to hospital, and everything ground to a halt.

As regular readers will know, since my discharge from hospital, I’ve been experiencing pain and loss of strength in my arms, and pain and loss of grip/function in my hands. Investigations into this are ongoing (I had a PET scan this week), but this prevented me from continuing to pack my stuff away.

Over the past couple of weeks, however, I’ve noticed a real improvement. I can open some bottles and jars which I couldn’t before. I have to take fewer painkillers. I’m gradually increasing my hours at work. There’s an upwards trajectory.

What I should have done was notify the letting agents/the landlord of my current condition, but I didn’t.

Hence the repossession notice.

I understand why it happened: they thought I wasn’t playing ball anymore, so decided the only way to progress matters (and get the insurers to pay for the repairs and redecoration) was to get me out.

A flurry of emails ensued, including one where I explained all that most of you have read on these pages recently about my ill-health, apologising profusely for failing to keep them in the loop.

And then, thankfully, the much-welcomed news came through: the landlord would revoke the repossession notice (not said, but implicit: as long as I played ball with the redecoration stuff).

So, I’m going nowhere (except to the delights of a Travel Tavern, somewhere in my locality, taking my big plate with me).

Phew. Bullet dodged.

This song springs to mind:

pleasure

Girls At Our Best – Getting Nowhere Fast

Which, of course, I only know of because of this cover version:

theweddingpresent

The Wedding Present – Getting Nowhere Fast

Although this one springs to mind too:

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Therapy? – Nowhere

I am, of course, mindful, that had my email appeal not been succesful, then this, absolutely wonderful, long-forgotten song would have been a far more appropriate tune:

lodger

Lodger – I’m Leaving

I’ve been trying to find a reason to post that for ages, without tarring it with the Brexit brush. Result!

When I found out that my persuasive skills had prevailed, I called my parents, who were obviously on notice of the situation. My mother seemed unsurprised; when I was growing up she had to deal with many pointless arguments with me, insufferable teenager that I was. Not just a bit like, but a lot like this:

I emailed the insurers on Wednesday, inviting them to call or email me so matters could progress. No reply as of yet.

More soon.

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From Leeds With Love

In 2009, I deliberately made myself feel very old indeed by going to see The Wedding Present on their tour to mark the 20th anniversary of their “Bizarro” album.

The idea was one which many bands have employed both before and since: pick a seminal recording from your back catalogue and perform the whole thing live, with the set list reflecting the running order of the track-listing of the album in question.

I’ve been to a few of these gigs: I’ve seen The Lemonheads play the “It’s a Shame About Ray” album, Teenage Fanclub play “Bandwagonesque”, The Jesus & Mary Chain do “Psychocandy”, Ride relive “Nowhere”, Primal Scream perform “Screamadelica”, and The Wedding Present do both “Bizarro” and “Watusi”. They are all usually accompanied by a Greatest Hits set, and are mostly attended by men of a certain age, like myself, who generally suppress the desire to join the mosh-pit, preferring to pick a good place to stand, preferably equidistant between the stage, the bar and – most importantly – the toilets.

Anyway: Camden KOKO’s 2009, and in between songs Wedding Present main man David Gedge indulged in some fairly good-natured banter with some of the sweatier, more vocal chaps down the front. One exchange went along these lines:

Sweaty Punter: “Leeds United are shit!”

Gedge: “I know. I support Man Utd.”

Sweaty Punter: *silence*

This Sweaty Punter was quite clearly an amateur, a new kid on the block, if you will. For the signs about Gedge’s football allegiances have been clear since…ooooh…1987 when The Wedding Present released their era-defining album which was named after and featured this chap on the sleeve:

TWPGeorgeBest

For the uninitiated, that’s George Best, and he even agreed to appear in some of promotional shots for the album. Mind you, this was during his drinking days so I wouldn’t want to swear he knew what he was agreeing to.

And from that album, comes today’s cover version:

The Wedding Present – Getting Nowhere Fast

When I first heard the “George Best” album – which, incidentally, remains one of my favourite albums ever, almost thirty years since I first heard it – I had no idea that was a cover version, nor, for that matter, did I  when I bought my second vinyl copy of it 2 weeks after I got to college, my first copy having been pinched after I misguidedly took it to a house party.

But a cover version it was, and here’s the original, part of a self-financed Double A side 7″ single released on the band’s own Record Records label in 1980:

GNFb240

Girls At Our Best – Getting Nowhere Fast

Girls At Our Best (! optional, it seems) also hailed from Leeds, but their football team of choice is, sadly, undocumented.

Now, I’m going to say this very quietly, because this is not something I usually say about a song The Wedding Present have covered: I think I prefer the original. Don’t get me wrong: I bloody love the Wedding Present version, but ever since my late teens I’ve always had a thing about female-fronted indie/alternative bands. See also: The Primitives, The Darling Buds, The Flatmates, My Bloody Valentine, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Echobelly, Sleeper, 10,000 Maniacs, The Audience, Lush, Kenickie, The Cardigans, and many, many more….you get the drift. I’m not sure if this is because I really liked Blondie and Dusty Springfield when I was a kid, or some deep-rooted underlying Freudian psycho-sexual issue I have that I really should have addressed by now. I’ll plump for the former.

Anyway, you decide which you like best. It matters not which, they’re both fecking marvellous.

More soon.