I have two things to add: firstly, whichever bright spark decided to use Enola Gay on a recent TV advert for home cooking kits really should have listened to the lyrics first. It’s about dropping the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, so it’s hardly appropriate to use it to soundtrack images of someone making a stir-fry, for Gawd’s sake. And that’s before you even begin to take into consideration what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment.
Secondly, if you’re a bit narked with me serving up what are essentially repeats here, then if you care to pop over to JC’s legendary home, The Vinyl Villain, you’ll find an all-new, 100% original playlist by yours truly over there too. Well, I say 100% original: one song does appear in both that one and tonight’s mix here. I’m sure you’ll survive.
This morning, a song which is guaranteed to put a smile on my face whenever I hear it.
That’s mostly because it’s a gloriously life-affirming, if ramshackle, bit of indie pop, but also partly because the band hail from Cardiff, and the fountain they mention it being a good idea to go paddling in on the way home was outside City Hall and therefore on my route home for most of the time I lived in Cardiff. I can’t put my hand on my heart and say the thought never crossed my mind after a night out.
Anyway, this is the version from the exclamation mark fans’ six-track Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP from 2007:
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.
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:
…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:
I’m away this weekend, and, organised as I am, having planned to sit and write stuff throughtout the week, so they were all ready to post whilst I was away, I now find myself here, on Friday night as I wrte this, scrabbling to get some posts done.
So you’ll excuse me if some of the posts which appear over the weekend are a tad on the brief side. Short and sweet.
Regular readers may recall that some time ago, I told a semi-entertaining story (even if I do say so myself) about the bus ride home from work on a Thursday. You can read it here if you really want to.
I think I need to avoid buses on Thursday evenings, because this week, there was another incident on the way home.
The bus stop I catch my bus from is on the High Street of the local town, and several buses stop there. All are double deckers, except mine, which is one of those Hail and Ride, practically a mini-bus type affairs.
Consequently, there’s generally quite a few people waiting at the bus stop, and since nobody has any idea which bus anyone else is catching, the concept of queuing to get onto the bus when it arrives in pretty much non-existent. I do my best to uphold the Britishness of the queue, trying to let people that you know have been waiting longer than you on first – a bit like when you’re waiting to get served in a busy pub – but after you’ve been elbowed out of the way by some late interloper a few times, you begin to subscribe to the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy, no matter how much it goes against the grain.
On this particular Thursday, as I stroll towards the bus stop, the bus I catch is just pulling up. There’s a bit of a scrum at the door as people try to get on. Knowing I was the last one to arrive, I’m resigned to being the last on board, and thus probably not getting a seat.
Besides which, marshalled by three adults, there is a group of kids waiting at the stop. The schools have broken up, and these kids are all wearing hi-vis vests with the name of some Summer Club or other stencilled on the back. I decide that they must be problem kids with difficult home lives. I pray they’re catching one of the double deckers.
They’re not of course. As I wait, I hear one of the adults – they’re not teachers, they’re play-leaders, I guess. No, that doesn’t sound right. The kids look pretty feral to me, so Handlers seems more appropriate – I hear one of the Handlers telling them all to wait until all of the “proper people” have got on the bus.
Through all of this, I notice a woman who, like me, is clutching onto the ideology and sanctity of the queue, and clearly having noted the running order for passengers to hop on board, she has been letting “proper people” on to the bus in front of her. She motions for me to go on, but I gesture that she’s next, and on she goes. I follow her aboard, and I make my way to the back of the bus, finding the last available double seat, last but one, back left. I am relieved to note it is not over the rear wheel, for all men will know the effect those particular mechanical vibrations can unintentionally have.
And then on come the kids, streaming up the aisle, led by one of their Handlers. There must be about 30 of them, almost all boys, all aged around 7 or 8, with the exception of a couple in their early-teens at most, who occupy the space reserved for wheelchairs and prams, lounging against handrails, attempting to disassociate themselves from the rest of the party.
The Handler who has led the charge to the back of the bus, starts ordering the boys where to sit, squeezing as many bums onto seats as possible. There must have been about 8 crammed onto the back seat, along with two “proper people” in either corner.
I realise I’m not going to escape, and sure enough, one little lad is lifted into the seat next to me. And then I hear the Handler tell him to budge up so that Dwayne can sit next to him. I sense the lad next to me is reluctant, but is reassured by the Handler not to worry because she’ll be standing right there and she “won’t let Dwayne hurt him”.
‘Oh Christ,’ I think, ‘Dwayne is going to be right fecking horror.’
I scootch up as close as I can to the window, the little lad next to me does the same, and then suddenly growling, snarling, dirty Dwayne appears next to him. The Handler proceeds to attempt to occupy Dwayne by letting him punch the palm of her hand repeatedly.
I decide I really don’t want to be involved in any of this, so I turn my iPod up a couple of notches, and avert my eyes towards the window.
And it’s so hot. Buses are not pleasant places to be when it’s hot and they’re not rammed to the rafters. But this is unbearable. The windows are open, but the bus is not moving fast enough to generate anything even approaching a breeze. I can feel my clothes begin to stick to me as the sweat seeps through.
And then, suddenly and strangely, I can feel something else. A patting. Something is patting me. On my stomach.
I have a bit of a belly, see. It’s noticeable enough when I’m standing up, but when sitting it all kind of gets bunched up, nestling on my lap, like I’m hugging a space hopper.
I look down and see that Dwayne is reaching across the cowering lad sitting next to me, and is patting my belly.
I take one earphone out and look at him.
“Can I help you with something mate?” I ask.
“You’ve got a big belly!” squeals Dwayne.
I look to his Handler for some assistance, but she is preoccupied by another of her charges who is trying to throw someone else’s shoe out of the window.
“And you’ve got a big mouth,” is the best I can manage to hiss back at him.
“Big belly big belly big belly” he calls, continuing to slap my gut. How the lad next to me didn’t get thrown from the seat by the ripples I don’t know. He must have been properly wedged in.
At last the Handler intervenes. But does she tell him to stop hitting my belly? Does she hell as like.
“Dwayne, don’t say that. Some people are just big and some people are just small. You shouldn’t tell them that they’re big or small.”
Dwayne takes no notice.
“Are you having a baby?” he squeals.
This is not doing much for my already fragile self-esteem.
“Of course he’s not having a baby, Dwayne,” says the Handler. “He’s not a lady. Only ladies can have babies. Like your mum. She’s going to have a baby isn’t she?”
I am this far away from telling Dwayne that his dad and the man who put the current baby in his mother’s tummy are not the same person, when, mercifully, he is given permission to press the bell as it’stheir stop.
They scramble for the door and us remaining proper people stretch out in our seats and breathe a sigh of relief. Except for me, as I try to hold my stomach in, just in case anyone decided to look in my direction to confirm Dwayne’s announcement.
It’s almost four years since I started writing this blog.
I mention this not because I want recognition for the longevity of it – although it is a minor miracle that I haven’t got bored of it yet – but to make a point.
Which is that I really didn’t expect I’d still be writing it now. And sometimes, the fact that I am still going causes me a bit of a problem.
You see, as long term readers will know, I use this place not just to furnish you with (hopefully) entertaining bon mots and tunes I like and hope you do too, but to pass on my best wishes to friends and family when birthdays and moments of significance happen. Because, y’know, I’m too cheap to actually buy them a present or send a card – surely a mention and a tune on here is better than either of those things, right?
But, the thing is, the longer I write things here, the harder it becomes to write something new about the subject in question on their special day.
Take my brother, for example. He lives in India (for now, until the FEDs catch up with him) so we don’t see each other often, maybe once or twice a year. And so when he has a birthday, this is my medium for letting him know I’m thinking of him.
And when he hits a significant birthday, like he does today, his 50th birthday, I feel that I ought to pull out the stoppers and write something worthy of such an occasion.
But when I’ve written about him and the influence he has had on me and my music collection so many times already, what more is there to say?
Well, he often points out (when I mention somebody or something from our dim and distant past, or when it comes to our parents’ birthdays or wedding anniversaries, all of which I assume he would remember but email him to check), ‘I’m the one in charge of remembering stuff’, so perhaps there’s quite a lot.
He’s probably my longest serving reader (I hate the word follower – I’m not the Messiah, I’m a very naughty boy, to misappropriate a famous quote), and if he isn’t then he’s certainly the family member who has been reading the guff I write here for the longest.
When he started reading this, he was very supportive; often I’d receive an email or a text from him telling me he liked what I’d written. He’s also the only person to so far accept my invitation to write a post for this place and have it published (I have a couple in reserve before the authors of those take offence). You can read that here, and I have re-upped the links should you wish to listen to any of the songs mentioned. It’s annoyingly good (although I did send him back to rewrite it at least once, a process that he rightly compared to being back in double English class); I’ve just re-read it and laughed quite a lot.
I first told him about this place in January 2015, when he and I went to see The Jesus & Mary Chain perform their legendarily awesome “Psychocandy” album at The Troxy in East London. If there’s one band who will forever unify us, then it’s them: a band he loved when he was in his full-on Goth mode in the mid-80s, and a band that sweet naïve young me tried to resist the allure of, but could not. So this seems to be an appropriate moment to have our first musical interlude:
I bought the tickets for that gig as a present, but actually it was payback for him buying me two tickets to go and see Squeeze back in 1987, when they had just reformed with Jools “boogie woogie” Holland in the line-up, on the tour to promote their “Babylon and On” album. Which is a cue for another song, I think. But not from that album, because it’s not very good.
I’m painting this as a quite the harmonious relationship, aren’t I? It wasn’t always thus.
I don’t think he would argue much if I said that for quite a long time, when we were kids, we really didn’t like each other much, or rather liked each other only in that “You’re my brother so I have to like you” kind of way. We fought a lot. Our childhood is littered with stories about how we managed to break stuff whilst fighting, most notably a violin bow (we both somehow ended up trying to learn how to play the screeching instrument when we were in Junior School) and a few years later, a snooker cue, which I distinctly recall breaking when I twatted him with it across the small of his back. Trust me, he was asking for it.
But I also remember the night that changed.
We had been growing closer as we got older, and saw less of each other, which may not be coincidental; also he and his mates Rob and Phil had asked me to join them as representatives of their local pub in a Pool League. I was alright at pool at the time, indicative of a wasted childhood, although I would often try a ridiculously adventurous shot which would result in me accidentally potting the black. I don’t think I won a single game for them.
It was the journeys to the away matches that I loved, cruising round the sleepy backwaters of local villages, ‘Mary Chain and Sisters of Mercy blasting from the car stereo – those trips probably did more to meld my musical tastes than anything else. I was in a gang, albeit a gang who were terrible at pool, and since they liked this kind of music it seemed appropriate that I should too.
I remember the night that we buried the hatchet, when no more snooker cues would be broken. It was his birthday, either his 19th or 20th, and we went to the local pub. We drank and chewed the fat, and on the short walk home he turned to me and said “You’re alright really, aren’t you?”
Which may not sound like much a of a compliment, but after ten years plus of battering each other, it was like the Good Friday talks writ small. And the feeling was mutual.
And since then, well, we’ve been friends. Which may not sound like much to most of you, but bearing in mind how much we fought when we were kids, and how infrequently we see each other, I’m pretty chuffed about.
As you will know if you’ve read that post he wrote, he joined the RAF at a young age, and remained in its loyal service, rising to the rank of Sergeant, until the early 2000s, when the offer of early retirement and a decent pay-off was too good to decline. And so it was that the family was invited to an RAF base in Lincolnshire to pay witness to him leaving the forces.
I say the family, but rules are quite archaic on an RAF base; women were not allowed into the hall where a set meal and a presentation took place to honour all that were leaving, so my Dad, my brother and I went and ate, drank and were merry for an afternoon, whilst Mum had to entertain herself elsewhere.
Afterwards, we retired to the Officer’s Mess, where my Mum was permitted to join in; and there was a further perk – a subsidised bar. Not a free bar, a subsidised one, so the drinks were ridiculously cheap: 50 pence (I think, though it may have been 20p) for whatever you wanted to drink, on the proviso that whenever you bought a drink, you bought the person serving you one too. Deal.
People who know me will be able to guess what happened next: a long afternoon and evening of drinking Jack Daniels and coke, a family trait, it turned out, as was commented on by many of my brother’s colleagues. I lost count of the amount of people I was introduced to who said something along the lines of “Oh Christ, does he drink as much of that stuff as you do?”
The next day, in a severely hungover state, my Dad told me that he couldn’t believe how much my brother and I had drunk the night before: we had, apparently, drunk nothing but Jack Daniels from about five in the afternoon until chucking out time (and even then we moved on to a different bar) at a rate of a new double every fifteen minutes or so. “I saw them change the bottle at least six times”, he said, in a tone pitched somewhere between concern and awe.
And then there was my brother’s actual demob party. For years he had a yearning to do the Monopoly Challenge – to have a drink in a bar at every location listed on a standard UK Monopoly board in one afternoon. And wouldn’t you know it, he invited me along, provided I brought my drinking trousers with me.
I buckled up.
And so it was that I travelled up from Cardiff to London one Saturday, met up with him and a bunch of his squaddie mates – the names of whom escape me, mostly (there was, I think, a Pete and a Jeff) for reasons which will become perfectly obvious if it hasn’t already – and at mid-day I was bundled into a stretch limo at Kings Cross Station that they had hired for the day.
See, it turns out that my brother wasn’t the only person in the world who wanted to play this drinking game on a grand scale. In fact, there are companies who run specific tours allowing the party to play this game, with a pre-determined route taking you to a bar at every stop on the board. The only difference is that the driver wants to take you to each destination according to whichever was nearest; we, however, instructed him that we had to do it sequentially, in order, even if that meant it would take longer than to do it the way the limo company wanted you to do it.
What I wanted to do now was post a song which links to every property on the Monopoly board as I recounted what happened in which bar, but that proved too arduos a task (plus, my memory is kind of fuzzy about the whole day, so a running commentary is simply out of the question). So instead, here’s a song related to the Jail square:
Safely ensconced in the bosom of my new-found drinking partners, I was plied with a flute glass filled with a mixture of Guinness and champagne. Sounds revolting, turns out it was alright.
And then there was the Space Dust.
You remember Space Dust, right? A powder you placed on your tongue which popped and pinged and fizzed. This stuff:
Except the decision was made that we could not consume the Space Dust in the traditional manner. Instead, if we wanted to have some then it had to be ingested nasally.
This sounded like a blast to me, with a couple of Guinness and Champagne combos sloshing around inside me. And so, rolled up twenty pound note at the ready, I gave it a go.
Such an anti-climax. Rather than fizzing and popping in my nose as I had hoped, it just kind of congealed and sat there, like a big lump of snot. Kids take note: drugs , don’t do ’em.
Oh, one more thing you need to know before I report on the events of the day: his squaddie mates had insisted he dressed as Elvis (Presley, not Costello), so for the entire day he was wearing a white jumpsuit, a pair of 70s sunglasses, and a wig which slowly deteriorated as the day progressed.
And so, to Old Kent Road we went, then Whitechapel Road (to a bar which proudly advertised the fact that the Krays used to drink there) and so to The Angel Islington, and to a bar which I forget the name of, but which seemed to be a real old school boozer.
It was remarkably busy for that time of day; split into two rooms, the squaddies squeezed their way into the room next to where I was pinned; I could see through the doorway that it appeared to be very full, quite raucous, with all of the men – and it was only men – looking in the same direction. I assumed there must be some sport on the TV in that room, and focused my attention on my beer.
Until a naked Japanese woman thrust a pint glass with pound coins in it under my nose. At which point the penny dropped.
She shook the pint glass.
“You see my show?” she said.
“Erm…no…I didn’t…sorry…” I replied, trying desperately to maintain eye contact.
“But you see me now?” she said, and gestured past her neck level.
Now that’s cheating, I thought. I haven’t asked to be here, I’ve not asked to see you all nudey, and even if I had, I haven’t seen the traditional transitional clothes on-to-off sequence which generally is the thing men are willing to pay to see. All I’ve seen is a naked woman thrust a pint glass under my nose, and this was a regular sight at 3am on Caroline Street in Cardiff.
I made my excuses, downed my drink and went outside for a cigarette.
Before I go any further, I would like to stress that no naked girls were harmed in the making of this post. One of the bevy of beauties who continually go-go dance in my flat did fall downstairs once, but that was entirely coincidental, and the man who lives in the flat below me was most appreciative.
Get to the Orange properties on the Monopoly board, as we did around 5pm-ish on the day, and you’re faced with a bit of a problem: there are no pubs or bars on Vine Street. We asked the driver what we should do, and he pointed us in the direction of a pizzeria, where, as long as you bought some food, you could also buy beer. The address of the place wasn’t on Vine Street, but half of the restaurant area looked out onto it. That’ll do, we thought, and several rounds of garlic bread later, we had another one ticked off. This seems appropriate:
By this time, bladders were full, so the concept of “Little Boy’s Wee” was introduced.
Worry not, we’re not about to go all Yew Tree on you.
Because we had reached the stage where most of us would be ready to visit the Gents, the jeopardy that was “Little Boy’s Wee” was introduced. And that was this: if you went into the gents and encountered a fellow Monopoly member who wasn’t peeing like a little boy – that is, pants AND trousers around your ankles as you stood at the urinal, bare arse on display – then the next round was for the pee-er to get in.
I got some funny looks in that bar.
And so to the Red properties, and I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if that didn’t mean I post this…
…but nothing of any interest happened on The Strand.
Trafalgar Square, on the other hand, was quite the opposite kettle of fish.
Our driver pulled up at Trafalgar Square, where we found the whole area was cordoned off. A stage, empty, stood at one end. Clearly, something was due to happen there in the next day or so. This, since my brother had decided he wanted to paddle in the fountains, was a problem.
We strutted up to the cordon, where we were greeted by a security guard.
“Sorry lads, no entry” he said, sort of firmly.
At which point, one of the squaddies – it may have been Pete, it may have been Jeff, it may have been one of the others – cocked a thumb in my brother’s direction. My brother, don’t forget, is dressed as 70s Elvis.
“Erm…but he’s the talent for tomorrow night,” he said. “This should have all been cleared. We’re just here to look the venue over and make sure it meets with the talent’s requirements.”
Unbelievably, the security guard, rather than phoning it in to check, just lifted the cordon and said “OK then, in you go.”
At which point, a man dressed as Elvis ran forwards, dived into the fountain, resurfaced and started telling everyone to “Come on in, the water’s lovely. Uh-huh-huh”
(The relevance of that record will become clear if you listen to the talkie bit at the end: “And then on the way home, it always seems like a good idea to go paddling in the fountain, and that’s because it IS a good idea.”)
From out of nowhere, several more security guards arrived and escorted us back past the cordon. I heard one of them chastising the guard who had let us in: “They’re just a bunch of pissheads. One of them is dressed as a shit Elvis. Did you really think all thisis for a Shit Elvis that’s playing here tomorrow night??”
Mate, if you’re reading this and lost your job as a result of that, I’m really sorry.
And so on to a bar in the proximity of Trafalgar Square, a bar which we found had a basement room which was hired out for private functions, and on this particular Saturday was being used for a wedding reception. A basement room with a woefully under-staffed bar, which meant that many of the guests came upstairs to the regular bar, where we were, to get served.
Including the groom.
Now putting aside for a moment the reason why the groom is having to buy his own drinks at his own wedding reception, what this meant was that he clapped eyes on my brother. Still dressed as Elvis, albeit as slightly bedraggled Elvis.
“My wife…my new wife…loves Elvis….” the groom announced.
We all nodded in consent. His new wife was wise. He had chosen well. Elvis was pretty good.
“You know what would make her special day even more special?” the groom continued.
We all looked at our shoes. We knew where this was going.
“If Elvis sang at her wedding reception!”
“Would you do that for us, on the happiest day of our lives…?”
I looked at my brother. There’s no way he’ll agree to this, I thought.
And then a look came over his face. A look that said: this is something to tell my grandchildren about. The sort of thing that one day my younger brother will write about on the blog he hasn’t even thought about starting to write yet.
“Yes I will, Sir,” he said, appropriating the accent, “but I don’t know any Elvis songs all the way through.”
“That’s okay”, proffered Pete/Jeff/one of the other squaddies, “we’ll help you out.”
And so we were all ushered downstairs, to a very full room of wedding guests, who all stopped what they were doing as we walked in. Like that scene in “An American Werewolf in London” when they walk into The Slaughtered Lamb. That. This:
“Darling”, announced the groom, “fate brought us together, and fate has led this gentleman here tonight too!”
At which point, my brother, soaked to the skin in a white sequinned Elvis suit, wig drooping down so it was more like a centre parting than a quiff, broke into the opening lines of a song:
And now imagine him stumbling over the words before the end of the second line, and his mates ploughing in to carry him to the end of the first verse, without the slightest whiff of a harmony being employed.
Except me. I had, I thought, wisely hung back from the group and therefore avoided any participation in the group “singing”.
Moving back upstairs, and separate from the group, and therefore vulnerable, like a gazelle picked off by a lioness, I was approached by a chap who asked if we were all in the forces.
I, in my drunken state, decided it was easier to say “Yes, we’re all in the RAF” than to try and explain that I had never been in any of the Forces, but that my acquantances were either in the RAF, just about to leave the RAF or had just left the RAF.
The chap who has enquired, it transpired, had tried to get into the RAF, but failed, and he wanted to know a) why that might be (so we discussed his medical history), and b) as much technical detail about engines and wings and stuff (of which I know nothing) that I could muster in case he ever reapplied.
I managed twenty minutes of utter bullshit to this guy, only interupted by Pete/Jeff/one of the other squaddies butting in to tell my conversationalist friend what a guy I am and how if you got me started on the concept of inverted wingry, I’d never stop. Cheers, guys.
We finally made it to Mayfair, the final square on the Monopoly board. All that was open was a restaurant, so we all piled in there and ordered a victory drink at 23:55.
By this point, I knew I was done, so after finishing my final drink in a Mayfair restaurant, I sloped off to hail a taxi. All of the other guys were staying in a hotel, but I had asked Hel if I could utilise her sofa-bed for the night.
I fell into the back of a black cab, and, having provided the name of the road Hel lived on, I also offered these wise words:
“And yes, I am really pissed, and no I’m not from round here, but if you take the long way to her house, I will know and I will run off without paying.”
He would have easily caught me if I tried.
The cab dropped me off outside Hel’s flat, but instead of just going in, I wandered off (after paying him, of course).
Forty-five minutes later, I rang Hel to ask her why her flat had moved to a place I couldn’t find. She came out to collect me, and will often tell me now – after we shared a flat together for four years and regularly got very drunk together – that she has never seen me that drunk before or since.
All your fault, Big Brother.
Which just leaves me to think of a tune which appropriately ties this all together, and I’ve thought of two.
Firstly, since we all doubtless slept exceedingly well that night, this, by a band I first listened to because my big brother regaled me with stories of a wild gig of theirs he went to, where one of the band members kept bashing his own head with a tea-tray as a means of percussion:
So the plan was this: every week, I’d post a round-up of the events from the week on the campaign trail, coupled with a scathing yet entirely impartial *ahem* review, and an appropriate song or two.
There are two flaws in that plan. Firstly, I was away last weekend, so I now have two weeks to catch up on.
I love Twitter, and some of you know and follow me on there, but there is a danger with that social media platform: because of the very nature of the beast, I find I’ve reacted to something or retweeted it there, long before I’ve written anything here.
So when it comes to time to write here, I’m frankly a little worried I may be accidentally using a joke or a point I’ve already read, and probably retweeted, on Twitter.
In other words, forgive me if I accidentally repeat something which I don’t credit to the original source. (In other words, I’m saying that all you are about to read is my take on the General Election, and if it anyway chimes with something on Twitter that I may or may not have read, that’s entirely coincidental.)
Where shall we start? Here: sometime in the last couple of weeks, Theresa May announced she would not take part in televised debates with the leaders of her opponents parties. The BBC and ITV announced that they would “empty chair” her, which means they’d have a chair for her to sit in, and when any question was asked, they would cut to the empty chair and the answer it wasn’t giving.
And they say the BBC is biased….
At this, many of us pricked up our ears, and rubbed our hands together.
Surely this is an open goal for Jeremy Corbyn, one even he can’t mess up? An opportunity to put his views and his vision out to the electorate, pretty much unchallenged.
And then he announced that if Theresa May wasn’t going to participate in the live TV debates, then neither was he.
Nice one, Jeremy. For why would you want to monopolise on such an opportunity? It’s almost like he doesn’t want to win…
And apart from that, nothing has happened in the past couple of weeks.
Ah yes. There was the Diane Abbott incident.
I quite like Diane. Of course, she ticks a lot of PC boxes.
Managed to regularly sit on a couch with Michael Portillo without punching him in the balls? Tick.
Absolute Liability with a microphone anywhere near her? Sadly, tick, tick, tick.
I’m not going to post the link here, as I’m sure you’ve already seen/heard it, but she did an utterly excruciating telephone interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari, where she discussed Labour’s plans to increase funding for the police. It’s fair to say, she made a right hash of the figures: the sound of her frantically flicking through her notes was more evident than any coherent message from Abbott.
Her explanation later was that the interview was her sixth of the day and she was tired.
That’s not really good enough, is it? For a start, if I’d done essentially the same interview, being asked the same questions, five times previously, I’d like to think that a) I’d have learnt the details before the first interview, and b) that having trotted the figures out five times already, they might have sunk in a bit by the time of the sixth interview.
The idea, of course, is to portray a picture of someone who is determined, resolute, and doesn’t waiver or change their mind.
So let’s not forget that this election is happening as a result of May changing her mind, and backtracking on previous pledges:
But then, she has a history of this, doesn’t she?
So, irrespective of whether you voted to remain or leave the EU last year, bear in mind that, if the Tories win the forthcoming election, then the negotiations will be led by someone who doesn’t believe we should be leaving at all.
And just think for a moment who she appointed into her cabinet. Foreign Secretary: Boris Johnson. I don’t have time to list all of the countries that Johnson has managed to offend, before or after the EU vote, but there are lots. And that’s before we even start on the amount of cities in the UK that he’s managed to piss off with his bumbling Eton toff routine.
But it’s okay, for David Davis is the minister charged with negotiating the Brexit deal, and he’s already admitted that there is no plan in place should the UK not get a deal which is favourable to leaving, so we all know how competent he is.
But, what he can do is get t-shirts printed with an exruciatingly bad joke emblazoned on them, and then persuade “curvaceous lovelies” to wear them:
But okay, fine. If you’re happy with Benny Hill negotiating the biggest and most important trade deal in the last 50 fifty years, then fill your boots:
Now. You know how we all scoffed at Donald Trump’s baseless, unfounded allegations that his presidential campaign had been wire-tapped by the Obama administration? The rantings of a deranged, parnoid loon (with something to cover up), right?
So this week, Theresa May went into full-on Trump mode.
Following a dinner with senior EU negotiating bods, May made a staement that there had been “European threats against Britain, deliberately timed to affect the election”
Whoa. Wait a minute, wait a minute. You mean, those people that we’ve told to fuck off have taken it badly, and want us to honour the agreement we previously signed off on?
And, unless I’m very much mistaken Mrs May, you called the election, not them.
And – hang on, I must be missing something here – since you didn’t want to Leave in the first place and clearly have all of the negotiating prowess of a potato in a sock with a face drawn on it, why would they want you to be replaced?
Oh wait – unless this was a deliberate ploy to make sure that all who voted to Leave last year turned out again for you in June? But that kind of scaremongering has no place in modern politics, does it?
It’s not strong and stable, it’s fucking deranged. She can’t even eat chips without looking like she’s from another realm. Seriously, it comes to something when Ed Miliband is able to call you out on how to eat in public:
And don’t even get me started on May’s response to a perfectly reasonable question about the NHS, about nurses, and their increased dependency on food banks:
That’s right, Theresa. There are many complex reasons why nurses might be going to food banks. I’ll list them for you:
That appears to be it.
But it’s okay, there’s always the European health workers (who you refuse to guarantee the safety of, post Brexit) to step in and take over.
Oh, and then there’s the small issue of the proposed increase in tax and National Insurance contributions which they tried to bring in under the last budget, before ditching it when (finally, after trying to defend and justify it for a few days, claiming it was our fault for misunderstanding everything, because we’re all THAT stupid) they had to accept it was in direct contradiction of their last manifesto pledge, and which May now refuses to confirm won’t happen should they be re-elected.
Look, I know there’s an obesity probem in the UK, I’m living proof of it, but surely the way to address that isn’t by making sure that the working (and a large chunk of the middle) classes can’t afford to eat?
So, anyway, let me just leave this here for you to think about:
And then there were the local elections on Thursday. I can’t pretend these went well for a cardigan-wearing leftie like me. There were Conservative gains, of course, many in traditionally Labour heartland. This cannot be considered to be encouraging. Areas of Wales, Scotland, and Birmingham, all went to the Tories.
Wales: I love you but you should hang your heads in shame that you’ve voted for the party that decimated the economic output of your community.
The only thing I can cling to here is the massive losses suffered by UKIP, who ended up with just one seat.
And why did UKIP only manage to secure one seat? From the results, it certainly isn’t the case that UKIP voters switched to Labour, is it?
So ask yourself this: if you’ve never voted UKIP before, because you recognise them as the racist fuckwits we know they are, then why would you vote for a political party which has – as Real Ale and fags raconteur, the man with a face you’d never get tired of punching, Nigel Farage acknowledged this week – absorbed their policies?
If you continue, or are considering, voting Tory in the forthcoming election, but think that UKIP are a bunch of whackos, then you need to take a fucking long look in the mirror, for you are now just UKIP under a different name.
That’s better. A prime slice of Davies storytelling and no mistake.
Next up, released way back in 20-God-that-makes-me-feel-old-07, and for my money one of the greatest indie singles of the last ten years. Recorded by exclamation mark afficonados and unquestionably the greatest non-Welsh band to come out of Welsh capital Cardiff (the band members all met at the fine city’s university, but none are actually Welsh), here with the original release of the single (the version on their debut “Hold On Now Youngster…” album being slightly longer and slower) which you can find on their “Sticking Fingers In Sockets” EP:
If that doesn’t have you bouncing round your humble abode then you have not an ounce of grooviness about you.
There’s so much to love about “You! Me! Dancing!”: the outright unfettred youthful exuberance; the slow build up; the hand-claps. And some of the smartest yet twee-ist lyrics you’ll ever hear to boot. This, from the climax of the record – for that’s what it is, a climax – where the lyrics are spoken rather than sung:
“And I always get confused Because in supermarkets they turn the lights off when they want you to leave But in discos they turn them on…
..And then on the way home, it always seems like a good idea to go paddling in the fountain, and that’s because it IS a good idea.”
(I can vouch for this. For many years when I lived in Cardiff, my walk home was via the front of City Hall, which is graced with some beautiful fountains, and by God they look tempting when you’re staggering back at 4am under the influence of various substances, even if they are switched off at that time. This record gave me permission to do it. Still never had the nerve though.)
“We’re undeveloped, we’re ignorant, we’re stupid, but we’re happy”. There’s my epitaph, right there.
Anyway, if you ever, ever get chance to go see Los Campesinos! live, treat yourself and go, you won’t be disappointed.
Next up a band whose debut album I bought on the strength of the review in Metro, the daily free-tabloid so beloved of eye-contact-avoiding commuters. Not, I should stress, because the quality of the review was in any way illuminating, just simply because I liked the name of the band and the album in question. So, here from their “In Our Space Hero Suits” album it’s:
I’ve gone a bit quiet on my “From Leeds With Love” thread for a couple of weeks (again); I’d love to say this was totally planned so that I could justify posting a song by The Wedding Present here, but that’d be a total lie, I just haven’t got round to writing one.
So, here’s The Wedding Present, with the second of twelve 7″ singles they released in 1992:
Say the name Leif Garrett to me, and two things pop into my head; firstly I seem to remember him wearing the most ludicrously tight red leather trousers – not a good look, ever – and secondly, for a while he seemed to pop up every other week on The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, the BBC’s Saturday morning live kids TV show which ran from 1976 and 1982. That is, he popped up on the weeks that the “special” “musical” guest wasn’t ironing-board-chinned talent-vacuum B.A. Robertson, anyway.
Garrett was quite the teen pin-up for a while, although this never really translated into record sales, either in his homeland in The US of A or here in the UK. They bloody loved him in Germany and Australia though. Read into that what you will.
Should you be so inclined to go and purchase his Greatest Hits album – and I see no reason why you would want to do that, since I’ve just given you the only thing approaching a decent song he ever made, so you can see just how far short of the mark the rest of his songs fall – but if you are so inclined, then please do. It’s entitled “The Leif Garrett Collection (1977-80)” which gives you some idea of his shelf life. It doesn’t however, give you any indication of just how long he outstayed his welcome by.
Moving on, and here’s one of them there mash-up songs. It’s in disguise though, as you can tell by the title. I had no idea I owned this until it came up on my iPod the other day, so I can only think that I must have obtained it from one of my peers out there in the blogosphere. So…er…thanks. I think.
See, what they’ve done there? They’ve taken Liquid Gold’s super-cheesy 1980s UK disco hit “Dance Yourself Dizzy”, slowed it down a bit, and thrown Yomanda’s super-cheesy 1999 club smash “Synths and Strings” over the top of it.
I have a bit of a soft spot for both of these tunes, “Dance Yourself Dizzy” because it reminds me of being a kid, and “Synths and Strings” because I was once in a bar in Cardiff where I found an acquaintance of mine (a bloke called Nigel who used to run the quiz night in my local pub) was DJing. He was dropping some naff records – it was that kind of a bar – so I approached him and asked if, since he was playing such piss-poor records, if he would mind dropping a bit of Yomanda for me.
He gave me a right look and said “My records might be cheesy, but I draw the line at ‘Synths and Strings’ “
Anyway, that mash-up doesn’t really work in my book but who am I to judge, so here’s the video of the Yomanda tune, posted for no other reasons than for comparison purposes, and certainly nothing to do with the plentiful shots of ladies in short skirts, nosireebob:
Right, just time for one more. I’m intentionally trying to keep things brief this week, and not bang on as much as I have here recently. Please don’t moan, I’ve had a very busy week and frankly I’m knackered.
So here, without any need for further introduction, explanation, deviation or hesitation, but plenty of repetition, is super cool French duo Justice: