Mask

It’s been a pretty frustrating week for me, with my broadband crashing sporadically, popping back up again for a short time before crashing again, which made working from home pretty much an impossibility. Out of five days, I think I managed to work for a total of about two and a bit days, time which, since the issue was with my IT rather than work’s, I feel duty bound to make back up.

Friday was a total waste, as I waited in for a BT engineer to arrive, who never did. Cheers for that. But as I sat watching the Glastonbury coverage on the BBC last night, suddenly a message popped up on my TV screen: Your BT YouView Box has reconnected to the internet.

And so here I am, for as long as the connection lasts.

What I’m trying to say is that if my posts for the next few days seem uncharacteristically brief, it’s because I’m trying to get as much written as possible before my broadband inevitably goes down again.

Recently on these pages, I predicted there will be a second wave of Covid-19, because the rules regarding our behaviour have been relaxed too quickly.

What, of course, I should have also said is that the likelihood of a second wave is greatly increased by those who take no notice of the rules/advice anyway, and you only have to look at the recent pictures of people going to the beach in the past few days – and indeed, those going to parks and beaches historically through the “lockdown” – to see that social distancing has not been observed by too many people.

One of the recent rules that has come in is that when travelling on public transport, one must wear a face mask. And so the other day, two or three days after this rule came in, I thought I would see how closely it was being observed.

I needed to get provisions, and my local supermarket is within walking distance, but the bus goes right past my flat, so I thought I’d catch that and see how closely the new rules were being observed.

The bus in question is one like this, and under normal circumstances it probably can carry 30 – 40 people:

As it pulled up to the kerb to collect me, I noticed a poster on the doors which read something along the lines of: “To observe social distancing, this bus will carry a maximum of 8 passengers. Driver have discretion to allow up to 11 passengers, where large groups are travelling together.”

So, I got on board, tapped in, and joined the…wait, let me count….14 other passengers. None of whom appeared to be part of a large group; a couple of people were sitting together, but were clearly not with anyone else.

And I looked around; of the 14 people (not including me) 7 of them were wearing face masks. 3 had face masks, but they were around their necks. 4 had no face covering at all.

Who do you blame at this point? It would be easy to point the finger at the driver for failing to implement the rules, but then again would you want to be the bloke refusing to let people on the bus to go home? These drivers get enough grief as it is, without having to enforce new rules.

No, I blame you, the general public. It’s been well known for weeks that face masks on public transport is mandatory, so to my mind there’s no excuse in failing to comply. Goverment messages might be unclear or contradictory, but where one isn’t – “Wear a face mask on public transport” – there’s no excuse.

It seems there are still some people who either think the rules don’t apply to them, or who consider it an infringement on their civil rights, without bothering to consider the rights of those who don’t wish to catch anything from them.

Wise up.

Looing at the sleeve of this, I’m not totally convinced Iggy is talking about the same kind of mask – it’s a bit too Zed and The Gimp for my liking – but it’ll do to illustrate a point:

Iggy Pop – Mask

And just in case you didn’t get that Zed and The Gimp reference, then a) why have you never watched Pulp Fiction? and b) here you go, but this is as Not Safe For Work as can be, and c) spoilers:

Saturday morning, eh? S’what this kinda content was made for.

More soon (broadband reliability allowing).

Friday Night Music Club

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to write a series here called Friday Night Music Club.

Here is what I wrote way back in March 2015 to explain:

Friends of mine will tell you I love a themed mix tape or CD.

In my old flat, we used to have what we (ok, I) liked to call The Friday Night Music Club. This would involve us a) getting very drunk b) me shaving my head at some point c) listening to the latest CD mix I’d made (later, when I bought a sound system that allowed me to just plug my iPod in (other mp3 playing devices are available) these mixes got waaaay longer, and probably waaaaay more tedious for the listener) and d) ideally having a bit of a dance.

I’ve done mix tapes and CDs for friends and family all my life (but you already knew that, right?) but the idea here was to make a series of mix CDs which, when played in sequence, you could play at a house party and which would keep the night bubbling along nicely.

Actually, this is something I’d already tried a few years earlier. Friends of mine used to have the most excellent parties at their flat on Hilldrop Road, usually with a DJ playing, but on one occasion the DJ – and for that matter, their decks – couldn’t make it. In their absence I prepared a set of 11 CDs – about 15 hours – which, when played in sequence, took you from aperitifs and welcomers, to “go on have a bit of a dance”, through to off your nut party anthems, and then back down to sitting round talking nonsense about radishes until 6am.

Anyway, back to the Friday Night Music Club. Occasionally I’d make a theme out of the whole thing (hey, if Bob Dylan can do a radio show using the same format, I can do a mix CD, okay?) or do more than one CD and spread the theme out (there was once a 4 CD opus to a former flat mate which deserves a mention in passing) but more often than not the theme would occur to me in the middle of preparing it, and that’d be it…I’d be off….

As an aside, I appear to have missed some fairly significant landmarks in the history of this place: my first ever post was in September 2013, and if you think my posts are sporadic now, bear in mind that my second post didn’t happen until a year later in 2014. Whatever, a belated 5th anniversary to me!

Anyway, it was when I became rather fixated on the theme rather than with just posting some songs which sound good when played together that I knocked the Friday Night Music Club series on the head.

Since there are now more of us are spending our Friday Nights at home, many of us getting drunk, I figured I would bring the series back for at least a one-off for you to use as your sountrack to your Zoom/Houseparty chats. There might be more, I’ve not decided yet.

Also, this, right here what you’re reading now, is my 1500th post, so I’d like to mark at least one of my landmark posts in a timely manner.

Ahem.

That’s better.

I figured we’d go back to where it all began, to the first few episodes of Friday Night Music Club, but now with fewer attempts to be clever/funny and just more songs to rock your end of the working (from home) week/kids are in bed celebrations.

Actually, I’d hoped to bring this to you last weekend, in time for the Bank Holiday, but time simply caught up with me, the bastard.

The initial intention was simply to repost those early “mixes”, with a few new songs thrown in here and there (and some brutally culled). But as I was working on it, it metemporphasised into something different, perhaps better described as a completely new mix of tunes, very loosely hung on the framework of the old ones, in an effort to reinvigorate them, poncey as that may sound.

If you’d prefer to just listen to this on Spotify, you can do here:

Friday Night Music Club Vol. 1

…although a word of warning: Spotify doesn’t have all of the songs in the playlist, so the only real way to enjoy this in it’s full…erm…glory is by ploughing through the links below.

Oh, and a second word of warning: there’s a fair bit of effin’ and jeffin’ on some of these, so perhaps not for those with young ears.

Hopefully, there will be something for everyone in here (there’s seventy tunes in just over five hours, so I bloody hope so!), so push back the sofa, get yourself a pint of White Russian (or whatever your weapon of choice is), dim the lights and turn up the volume. Let there be grooves. Let there be guitars. Let there be cheese. Let there be some surprises, some forgotten tunes and some old favourites. Let there be singing. Let there be dancing.

Tell you what: I’ll play a song or two by way of a little intro whilst you’re getting yourself sorted:

Patience & Prudence – Tonight You Belong To Me

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking

Richard Hawley – Tonight The Streets Are Ours

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – The Night

Lykke Li – Get Some

Richie Havens – Going Back To My Roots (Groove Armada Go North Remix)

Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper

Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug

Earth Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove

Jackson Sisters – Miracles

Chic – Good Times (Full-Length Version)

Double Trouble & Rebel MC – Street Tuff (Scar Radio Mix)

Adventures Of Stevie V – Dirty Cash (Sold Out Mix Edit)

Skee-Lo – I Wish

De La Soul – Me, Myself and I

N.W.A. – Express Yourself

Public Enemy – Fight The Power

Clinton – People Power In The Disco Hour

Shed 7 – Disco Down

Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

Cee Lo Green – Fuck You!

Janelle Monáe – Dance Apocalyptic

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

Britney Spears – Toxic (Armand Van Helden Remix)

Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Ooooh

Icona Pop – I Love It [featuring Charli XCX]

Armand Van Helden – Koochy

Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Enola Gay

Human League – Fascination

Archie Bronson Outfit – Dart For My Sweetheart

Stellastarr* – My Coco

Franz Ferdinand – Do You Want To

Gang of Four – I Found That Essence Rare

The Fall – Dead Beat Descendant

Maxïmo Park – Our Velocity

Sports Team – Here’s The Thing

Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

Elastica – Stutter

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Spread Your Love

Sum 41 – In Too Deep

Good Charlotte – Girls & Boys

My Chemical Romance – Teenagers

Ramones – Beat on the Brat

Iggy Pop – The Passenger

Talking Heads – Girlfriend Is Better

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Hong Kong Garden

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

The Sisters of Mercy – This Corrosion

The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers

Interpol – Mammoth (Erol Alkan Rework)

A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray (Original Mix)

Mory Kanté – Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)

Underworld – Cowgirl (Bedrock Mix)

Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness (Dex & Jonesey’s Higher Stated Mix)

The Stone Roses – Fools Gold

Flowered Up – Weekender

Happy Mondays – W.F.L. [Think About the Future]

The Charlatans – The Only One I Know

Inspiral Carpets – Find Out Why

The Doors – Touch Me

divinyls – I Touch Myself

Yazoo – Don’t Go

New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill

Echo & The Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar (Way Out West Remix Edit)

LCD Soundsytem – All My Friends

Indeep – Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Primal Scream – Come Together (Terry Farley Remix)

The Bluetones – If…

More soon.

Sunday Afternoon Movie Club

Time for a Parental Guidance sticker again.

When you get to my age, barely a week goes by without me getting yet another reminder of just how old and decrepit I’ve become. I suppose I should be grateful; the alternative is much grimmer.

It also makes me wonder: what in today’s popular culture will be celebrated in 20 years time? The day we all saw that picture of Kim Kardashian’s arse? The moment Justin Bieber changed his haircut? The day Zayn left One Direction? (it was him that left, right?)

As if having to deal with the fact that this year it will be 30 years since The Smiths released “The Queen Is Dead” wasn’t enough for me to cope with,  I now have to deal with the fact that it is twenty years since Trainspotting (the movie, not the book, that was even longer ago) was released.

Fuck, really??

For many, this was their first introduction to the genius that is Danny Boyle, the director. Personally, I was working in a video shop in Cardiff between 1994 and 1996 (I really used my degree to its full potential) so had seen, and loved, Boyle’s directorial debut, “Shallow Grave” and so was already aware of his visionary genius.

Trainspotting though took him to another level entirely.

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Based on the Irvine Welsh book, it tells the story of Renton (Ewen MacGregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Diane (Kelly MacDonald) and Tommy (Kevin McKidd), their battles with addiction to heroin (Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, Tommy) or alcohol/violence (Begbie), a battle that at least one would lose (no spoilers here), and those that surviveds’ attempts to break free by engineering a drug deal which would enable their freedom once and for all.

Watching it back, there are so many iconic moments, from the opening sequence:

to Spud’s speed-fuelled interview:

to the infamous Begbie bar scene:

to the “Worst Toilet in Scotland”:

to Spud’s…err…accident…

Of course, there was much hysteria in the press about this film, this squalid film, that glorified drug abuse (it doesn’t, it really, really doesn’t) and how young impressionable folks would doubtless see it and be unable to resist embarking on a downward spiral of drug abuse and ultimately death. All total bollocks, of course.

But, for me, there was one other thing about Trainspotting that got me hooked: the soundtrack. You could tell that each record that featured had been chosen, or commissioned, with great care: the breadth and depth of the movie’s soundtrack (which got released over two albums) was simply staggering, taking in established records and placing them next to newer Britpop-y tunes (it was 1996, after all) and managing to totally capture the zeitgeist (whatever that means).

This was a turning point for me: it wasn’t until I saw Trainspotting that I appreciated that dance and indie music could co-exist in my own personal musical CV. Until now, I rarely gave dance music the time of day, but such was my love of the film I simply had no choice. Particularly, this one:

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Bedrock feat. KYO – For What You Dream Of

There was, of course, the odd classic cut by a Britpop band to consider as well, not least one which remains one of my favourite Pulp songs to this day:

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Pulp – Mile End

And then, of course, the two songs which bookend the movie, one gaining a new lease of life from it’s inclusion, the other…well…it’s just one of the greatest era-defining records:

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Iggy Pop – Lust For Life

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Underworld – Born Slippy

Danny Boyle has gone on to bigger and brighter things: he won an Oscar in 2008 for Best Picture and Best Director (and another six) for “Slumdog Millionaire”, and orchestrated the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics (I bought the 3-DVD boxset of the Olympics, and have never watched anything other than the 1st one which contains the opening ceremony). In the run-up, I was firmly in the “we’re going to fuck this up aren’t we?” camp, didn’t even watch it live, but when I did I was entranced; it was a thing of such patriotic beauty it is one of the very few things that make me feel proud to be British.

Here it is, in all its glory:

This led (and rightly so – it is, simply, astounding) to him being offered a knighthood  which he earns extra bonus cool points by declining.

News has come out over the past twelve months that work has started on “Porno”, the sequel to Trainspotting. Having read the book, I cannot wait for the day I get to queue up at the local multiplex and legitimately ask for “a single to watch Porno please”.

More soon.