You know what I miss about pop music these days? Pop stars slagging off other pop stars, that’s what.
I don’t want to encourage a culture of bitterness, jealousy and unpleasantness, nor do I wish to sound like a wizened old hack moaning about how they don’t write songs like they used to, “is that a boy or a girl singing?”, etc etc, but pop stars were much more interesting in the 80s, before they all had media training so as to be sure they never said anything likely to offend their potential market.
So it was with great amusement that I read of a recent mini-spat between two former bandmates: Morrissey and Johnny Marr. Some of you may have missed it, so I will explain.
On 25/01/22, in a post entitled: “OPEN LETTER TO JOHNNY MARR.” (his use of caps, I should add) Morrissey posted these words on his website:
“This is not a rant or an hysterical bombast. It is a polite and calmly measured request: Would you please stop mentioning my name in your interviews?
Would you please, instead, discuss your own career, your own unstoppable solo achievements and your own music?
If you can, would you please just leave me out of it?
The fact is: you don’t know me. You know nothing of my life, my intentions, my thoughts, my feelings. Yet you talk as if you were my personal psychiatrist with consistent and uninterrupted access to my instincts. We haven’t known each other for 35 years – which is many lifetimes ago. When we met you and I were not successful. We both helped each other become whatever it is we are today. Can you not just leave it at that? Must you persistently, year after year, decade after decade, blame me for everything … from the 2007 Solomon Islands tsunami to the dribble on your grandma’s chin ?
You found me inspirational enough to make music with me for 6 years. If I was, as you claim, such an eyesore monster, where exactly did this leave you? Kidnapped? Mute? Chained? Abducted by cross-eyed extraterrestrials? It was YOU who played guitar on ‘Golden Lights’ – not me.
Yes, we all know that the British press will print anything you say about me as long as it’s cruel and savage. But you’ve done all that. Move on. It’s as if you can’t uncross your own legs without mentioning me. Our period together was many lifetimes ago, and a lot of blood has streamed under the bridge since then. There comes a time when you must take responsibility for your own actions and your own career, with which I wish you good health to enjoy. Just stop using my name as click-bait. I have not ever attacked your solo work or your solo life, and I have openly applauded your genius during the days of ‘Louder than bombs’ and ‘Strangeways, here we come’, yet you have positioned yourself ever-ready as rent-a-quote whenever the press require an ugly slant on something I half-said during the last glacial period as the Colorado River began to carve out the Grand Canyon. Please stop. It is 2022, not 1982.
Morrissey. January 2022.”
There’s a lot to unpack there, isn’t there? (You can read it here if you so wish to do.)
For a start, anyone who feels the need to begin making their point with the words “This is not a rant…” is clearly about to do exactly that. It’s why when I write my occasional Saturday morning posts commenting on the comings-and-goings in UK politics I deliberately call them Rants. Call it what it is, don’t pretend it’s something its not.
This also completely overlooks or wilfully misunderstands the interview process. I doubt very much that Marr goes into every interview relishing the prospect of being able to stick the boot in; quite the opposite, in fact. Not only is there an eternal interest in the prospect of The Smiths reforming, Morrissey has a history of doing or saying something controversial, so of course, when interviewed, the journalist is going to ask Marr for his thoughts on both. From what I’ve read, Marr is always tactful, diplomatic, and a little weary of being asked. Or, as Swiss Adam said in a recent post over at the ever brilliant Bagging Area:
“In interviews he is thoughtful, considered, enthusiastic and well read, deftly trying to avoid spending every interview talking about his first band and that band’s singer, when he’d clearly much rather talk about other topics – science fiction, modernism, Aldous Huxley, The The or the Bhagavad Vita.”
Which leads me on to the ever-lasting question: will The Smiths ever reform?
I hope not, and I say this as a massive fan of the band.
Don’t get me wrong: I would love to see them live, but I’d love to see them live as they were circa 1985, at the top of their game, not cashing in on, and thereby cheapening, their legacy, for that’s exactly what them reforming would be. We all know that there’s no love lost between them, especially after bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce successfully sued Morrissey & Marr for an equal share of the royalties from their halcyon days.
You’ll know all about Morrissey’s opinion on the case (which he lost) if you’ve ever read his autobiography (wittily titled Autobiography – for a wordsmith that’s either an extremely arrogant title, or it shows a distinct lack of creativity; wouldn’t it be better titled “I’ve Got Everything Now”, or “Half a Person – The Story of My Life”?) – where he wangs on about the Court case and his perceived injustice for, as Stewart Lee would say, “…too long”:
Sparks, of course, put this all far more succinctly:
Sparks also have a history with Morrissey, having done this frankly brilliant remix of an already fine song (see? I can say nice things about him) which I have on a rather great remix compilation album called Future Retro, but which doubtless exists elsewhere:
As we all watched the upsetting images of Afghans desperately trying to flee the country by clinging onto aircraft as they took off, and we heard the horrific stories of former Afghan colleagues who we had been left behind being executed, we learned something new.
Dominic Raab is as lazy as he is stupid.
This remember is the man who took over from David Davies as Brexit Minister and somehow managed to make his predecessor look almost competent. Dominic Raab: the man who, during a speech he gave during his tenure as Brexit Minister said: “We are – and I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this – if you look at the UK and look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.”
Just to paraphrase that: “The UK is an island, and I hadn’t quite fully understood the extent of this, it really is jolly close to France.”
Dominic Raab: the man briefly charged with agreeing the withdrawal terms for Brexit, who admitted he hadn’t read the Good Friday Agreement, despite the Agreement being intrinsically linked to any relationship past, present or future, with the European Union.
So, I think we can agree: either monumentally stupid or monumentally arrogant. You can choose.
And now, in his current position as Foreign Secretary, we know that he decided not to call the Afghan foreign minister as the situation worsened. Instead, he sent one of his staff off to do it; he was on holiday, goddamit, and no humanitarian crisis or military threat was going to interrupt it. He got up ruddy early to bagsy this sun-lounger, and he wasn’t going to do anything that might jeopardise that.
That phone call could – I am not saying would – could have saved some lives. If it had saved just one, then it would have been worth letting the ice in your piña colada melting.
The Conservatives love to invoke that Churchillian spirit, but can you imagine where we would be now if Winston had declined to react to the threat of Hitler because he was taking a couple of weeks off?
Oh hang on, maybe that’s why he wanted to fight them on the beaches…
Something else Raab seemed to forget: insurgent terrorist groups are not fond of the West, and care unsurprisingly little about whether their activities coincide with a convenient window in his calendar. Did he expect they’d go: “Oh, Dom’s on holiday is he? Ah well, fair enough. We’ll leave it a couple of weeks before we attempt to seize control of anywhere important then. Enjoy your break, Dom! Bring us some rock back!”
And so this week, we have also seen the usual carousel of Tory MPs we’ve never seen or heard before thrust out in front of the cameras to defend Dom – doubtless at the instruction of our glorious leader: “Come on chaps and chapesses, let’s form a ring around The Raabster!” – each one insisting he is working to ‘tirelessly’ and ‘to the best of his capabilities’, the latter of which is perfectly obvious to even the most myopic Magoo.
Johnson himself has insisted he has “every confidence” in Raab. In football, when we hear that a beleaguered manager has the full support of the board we all know he’s about to get the sack. But when Johnson makes similar statements, we know that what he actually means is: “Thick, lazy, entitled and arrogant? Your job’s safe. You’re such a chip off the block that I may have just identified one of my kids.”
I’m not sure at what point I became embarrassed or awkward to be associated with the English flag. If I wasn’t already, then that image above would have done it.
I know I’ve always been a bit embarrassed about the English National Anthem, which compared to other nations – Wales, say, or France, or Germany – is such a dirge. I remember watching An Audience with Billy Connolly back in the 80s, and thinking he had it spot on:
Although, over the years, I’ve come to think of this as a decent substitute (not necessarily this version, mind) although in the back if my mind there’s a good reason why it shouldn’t be this, which I can’t quite recall at the moment:
But we’re not going down this route this morning, otherwise I’ll be talking about Keith Allen, his involvement with New Order’s World in Motion and then comparing it to Three Lions, and you’ve probably read articles discussing which is best 1000 times already this summer, and every summer a major football tournament is on.
No, I’m here to talk about the appropriation of the English flag by wrong ‘uns: your bully boys, your beer boys, your fat bald tattooed cheerleaders, your racists, your…dare I say it…Brexit voters, your Conservative MPs.
And so probably the first time I was aware of the bad connotations, of the gangs it was associated with, was when Morrissey flounced on stage back in 1992, at a gig where he was supporting Madness, who – much as we love them – have a higher than most ratio of skinhead fans, which I’m sure is in no way related to Suggs being a Chelsea fan.
I’ve never quite understood why that association survives; ska music is a perfect blend of cultures, tapping into reggae rhythms and often lyrically articulating the woes of the forgotten working classes, and yet still there they sit, the racist fuckwits, loving the music but utterly missing the point.
The sort of person who, for example, will claim to be cheering on the England team, but will boo the team’s decision to take the knee before games, in a show of unity against all forms of inequality:
When Morrissey came on stage at Finsbury Park that day, he was waving and wrapping himself in a St George’s flag, seemingly, it would seem, to provoke that small section of the Madness crowd. And he performed this song:
Now. If I were being kind, I’d say that is clearly written in the third person and is not necessarily representative of the writer’s views.
There is no challenge to lines such as “England for the English”, or “You want the day to come sooner when you settle the score”; there’s no pay-off explaining these are hideous views to hold in these modern times.
And so people began to look back through his work, and found songs like Bengali in Platforms which includes the lyric: “Life is hard enough when you belong here”.
And to old interviews, when he was quoted as saying things like “All reggae music is vile.”
And because at the time he was the darling of the indie-world, nobody challenged him on these points.
Until that day in Finsbury Park, when, credit where credit’s due, the NME went: hang on a minute….something’s not right here.
And then, twenty odd years later, having stropped and refused to speak to certain publications, and protested his innocence – “My mother’s Irish, how could I be racist?” – he turns up on TV wearing a For Britain pin badge:
For those unfamiliar with it, For Britain is a far-right political party. Even Nigel Farage believes it is made up of “Nazis and racists”.
But I haven’t come here to talk about Morrissey.
The English flag has become a focal point again, all because of not just our beer-swilling racist football fans, but because of things that members of our current Government have said.
Here’s Tory MP asking new director-general Tim Davie why the BBC’s annual report does not feature any images of the union jack:
Answer: because it’s a report, not a picture book.
Shortly afterwards came a whole slew of Conservative MPs being photographed or screen-grabbed from Zoom conferences, with the Union flag displayed proudly in the background.
Here’s Robert Jenrick MP in an interview with the BBC:
And here’s everyone’s favourite smirking bully Priti Patel in an interview with LBC:
And here’s…seriously, there’s loads of these, and the message they were supposed to send was clear: being a Conservative is your British duty. And if you don’t have a British flag, then you’re unpatriotic.
Around the same time, and amplified more recently, we heard new rhetoric, where various issues – the customs border between England and Northern Ireland, the issues with exporting sausages to Ireland, the problems our fishermen and farmers now face are all the EU’s fault.
That’s right: their fault for implementing the “oven-ready” deal Boris agreed and signed up to, either without reading and understanding it, or with no intention of upholding it – I’m not sure which is worse – just so he could add Prime Minister to his CV, along with the stuff about being sacked twice as a journalist for lying, for agreeing to help have someone beaten up, the infidelity and lies (of course he couldn’t sack Hancock for having an affair, this is the very stuff that we’re supposed to admire in Johnson) – the usual stuff one expects a PM to have hidden in his closet.
And then there is James Wallis.
Wallis is the Conservative MP for Bridgend in South Wales comprising mainly of farmers, Young Conservatives, young Conservative farmers, and slightly more dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives who have moved out of Cardiff because there are too many ‘ethnics’ there nowadays. On Thursday, Wallis stood up in the House of Commons with the notion of giving a rousing speech about the Union Jack. He began by bemoaning the “fact” that the Senedd (the Welsh Parliament) had banned the display of the Union Jack, which wasn’t strictly true: they have banned the display of all flags, not just the Union Jack.
He went on, dressed like this:
Out of shot: Union Jack socks and matching Y-Fronts.
He went on to say how despicable this untrue thing was, because people “across Wales are proud” to fly the Union Jack, which represents all four nations of Great Britain: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and….oh….perhaps just three then. His speech stumbled to a halt and he sat down again.
Remember how we used to be able to spot Donald Trump dog-whistling the lowest common denominator from his following, calling them into action? Remember how we laughed and said that couldn’t happen here?
Well, that’s exactly what this sabre-rattling, flag-promoting is, a call to arms for those thick enough to follow, but a little more subtle and easier to say “Who me? I never started this” afterwards.
I’m not going to attempt to defend the actions of Martin Bashir in securing that infamous interview with Princess Diana twenty five years ago. He hasn’t, so I see no reason why I should.
What I would say is this: the idea that this interview led to her death two years later seems to me to be stretching a point a little too far. At the time, we all knew the marriage was an unhappy one. We also knew that Charles had continued his affair with Camilla for some time. There has always been doubt about the identity of Harry’s father. Frankly, it was only a matter of time before the marriage collapsed allowing both parties to hook up with whomever they chose to.
I understand and empathise with where Princes William and Harry (is he still a Prince now?) are coming from, with their statements and interviews about how the BBC are culpable. They’ve been fighting against press and media intrusion ever since their mother died, and rightly so.
The release of the Dyson report into the interview and how it was procured, along with the subsequent BBC Panorama programme which aired on Thursday night, gives them the scapegoat they so desperately need. Let them have their moment complaining about the way the BBC went about things back then: twenty five years have passed, none of the people involved are anywhere near the BBC anymore.
But what it also does is add more weight to the Government’s argument that Auntie needs reform, and by reform they mean never criticising them.
It always annoys me whenever I see some right-winger complain about left wing bias at the Beeb, for at the same time there is usually an opposing voice complaining about it being too right wing. And to my eyes, that means that the BBC must, generally, be getting the balance right: it simply isn’t possible for both viewpoints to be correct, so it must be the case that both left and right are getting equal coverage and criticism.
That said, the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, is generally perceived as a conduit to all things Tory. But for every Kuenssberg at the BBC there is at least one other journalist with the opposite political leaning; the problem is that the BBC are so scared of riling the Tories and being reformed they rarely dare let these voices bubble to the top.
What sticks in my throat is the way that the printed media has seized upon this, attacking the BBC, like they had absolutely nothing to do with Diana’s death. “It wasn’t us that chased her in cars and on motorcycles through Paris to her death, desperate for a snap with her and her current beau (not that any of them will mention this, of course), it was them bastards over at the BBC what done it.”
(Purists: Yes, I know that version isn’t on the Live at the BBC album, it’s on the Deluxe Edition of London 0 Hull 4, but posting a BBC session version was too delicious a prospect for me to resist and I needed a cover pic.)
Of course, our glorious leader was quick off the mark to criticise the BBC (dressed in what appeared to be a costume at best, his pyjamas at worst, with the words Prime Minister sewn into the breast, like a weird boy scout badge he’d earned; it may as well have said “Done a big boy’s wee” for all the gravitas it afforded him), stating that he hoped there were lessons the corporation would learn from the report.
Which, if you know his history, is a bit rich. For this Boris lecturing the BBC on journalistic standards, is the same Boris who, in his pre-political career, was sacked from his job at The Times over allegations he fabricated a quote from the historian Colin Lucas, for a front-page article about the discovery of Edward II’s Rose Palace.
After being escorted from the building at The Times, Johnson moved to The Daily Telegraph, where he worked as the publication’s Brussels correspondent between 1989 and 1994. It was here that he penned many of the “Euromyths” which entered into common parlance, including plans to establish a “banana police force” to regulate the shape of the curved yellow fruit, and the introduction of a ban prawn cocktail crisps, since they contained neither prawn nor cocktail in their ingredients. None of which were true, of course.
What the Dyson report does is to allow the Government to indulge in a bit of deflection. I’ve written before about the dead cat scenario, where, in times of trouble, a government or ruling body will say or do something so utterly strange as to make that the talk of the tabloids rather then the thing they were (probably) about to write about. This, however, doesn’t qualify for such a description, it doesn’t even qualify for “what-about-ery”, where one acknowledges something bad has happened but asks you to look at something if not worse then equally controversial instead (Example: “Yes, Labour did very well in Wales in the latest by-elections, but have you seen what happened in Hartlepool?”*).
No, the Dyson report comes at an absolutely perfect moment to allow the Government to move attention away from another report which was due to be released this week, but was blocked by your friend and nobody else’s, Priti Patel.
This report took an independent body eight years to complete, and looked into the private detective Daniel Morgan in 1987, who was found dead in a south London car park with an axe embedded in his head, and the subsequent botched attempts to solve his murder. No one has ever been convicted of his murder, but interestingly key suspects are alleged to have close ties to News International, and police investigations are thought to have been deliberately ineffective.
In case you’re unaware, News International is the company owned by Rupert Murdoch, under which such luminaries as The Sun, The Times and, at one time News of the World were published. You will doubtless recall the Levison enquiry, which found evidence of links between the press, the police and the Government, and which was supposed to have a second leg of the report until that was also shelved by the Conservative government. A bit like the report into Russian collusion into our elections, which was finally released in July 2020, albeit redacted to within an inch of its life.
But this report was looking at something far more sinister than phone-tapping: it was considering whether News International and the Metropolitan Police were complicit in actual murder.
Now what on earth could cause Patel – who has read the report – and who is part of a Government for whom Murdoch and News International are established cheerleaders – to react in such a way?
There’s also the small matter of the investigation into corruption and cronyism with the award of billions of pounds of contracts to companies with no experience or means to produce PPE items, which is going to happen, but not for another year, and even then Johnson will have the final say as to whether the findings should be made public or not.
It’s depressing, isn’t it? The way this Government is lining the pockets of their BFFs (and probably their own – there has to be something in it for them, right?) and yet certain pockets of our society see that and think: “Boris is funny and has funny hair. I’ll vote for his lot again”.
So perhaps we need a moment of levity, and thank the Lord, here to provide it is none other than oily snakeskin and pipedream salesman Nigel Farage.
For it emerged this week that good old honest pint drinking and self-proclaimed Fisherman’s Friend Nigel is currently touring America, giving talks to theatres he expected to be packed with Trump devotees, about how he is “Mr Brexit” – not exactly what I’d call him, to be honest – and how successful a politician he is *coughs*. It’s a self-congratulatory lap of honour of a slippery conman. Presumably his teleprompter at the speeches doesn’t scroll on as far as to mention the seven times he stood for election as an MP and was defeated, and definitely not far enough to reveal that on one of those occasions he was beaten by a man dressed as a dolphin.
And, thanks in no small part to national treasure and lead singer of The Charlatans Tim Burgess, the first night of Farage’s tour was a sell out. The problem was, that only 21 people actually turned up; it later transpired that of those, 6 were part of Farage’s group, and one was Farage himself, who had to deliver his speech to an auditorium designed for 3000 people but which actually contained just 14 people.
See, for once, Farage wasn’t looking to make money from the actual tickets – doubtless there was some merch available though: a pipe, a beer tankard with a frog’s face on it, a burning cross, you know the sort of thing – for he had made tickets free.
*What happened in Hartlepool was this: Labour lost their seat for the first time since it was created. General consensus though, obtained via vox pops and exit polls, was that the good people of Hartlepool voted Conservative because they wanted change, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the very people they were voting in to bring change, just happened to be the same people who have been in power for the past eleven years. No wonder they hung that monkey.
I got quite excited the other day, when I went into my Drafts folder and saw this title.
“Zut alors!” I exclaimed, thinking that I must have at the very least started writing the next installment of The Chain. And that I was French or German or whatever that language is.
But no, my laziness and ineptitude was laid out there before me, for all I had done was write the title, and that was it. Classic me, if my deadline nightmares are anything to go by.
Anyway, hello, and welcome back to the latest in what is turning out to be an increasingly infuriating occasional series: The Chain.
But at least it’s here, right? We all need distractions and things to think about at the moment, things to fill the time, and surely there’s no finer way to spend some time than reading what folks from all around the world can link to one particular song. It’s what Covid-19 was invented for, surely.
A brief reminder for those new to the shnizz we get up to here: we’re working our way through the songs played on The Chain section of Radcliffe & Maconie’s 6Music show, coming up with alternative suggestions, and listening to them all instead of just the one (Mrs Wembley). 80s sitcom gag, there, to help you acclimatise to the level of writing you can expect should you venture further.
I used to write these once a week, but then couldn’t be arsed lacked inspiration for a year or so, brought it back and suddenly find myself wondering where the days/weeks have gone and how it’s got to the point where I really should have written it by now has arrived.
Anyway, blah blah blah poor old me….let’s be off.
This episode, just to be different, we’re not going to start with the source record from last time. Well not quite, anyway.
No, instead, we’re going start with the first part of one of Rol from My Top Ten‘s suggestions:
The album version of Tubthumping opens with an inspirational quote from the great Pete Postlethwaite, taken from the movie ‘Brassed Off’…
Dammit, it’s done my head in for years trying to remember where I recognised that from! Cheers, Rol!
Before we go any further with Rol’s suggestion, I’ll hand you over to one of the two people who insist on emailing me (which is fine, by the way) their suggestions rather than popping them in the Comments section:
You may recall that last time out The Great Gog got a little obsessed with the county of Hampshire. And rightly so: if Hampshire had a church steeple with a 123-metre spire, then them pesky Ruskies would be queuing up to smear Novochok all over it and any corporate Italian restaurant chain in the immediate vicinity (I’m nothing if not topical).
Anyway, things don’t appear to have changed much in the Land of the Gog:
The album containing Tubthumping is Tubthumper.
Thumper is a rabbit in the animated film Bambi.
There are lots of cartoon rabbits in the animated film Watership Down.
Watership Down is set in some Hampshire fields – which could take us all the way back…
Is it too early to be handing out points for Comments Showboating? I think not: POINTS!
By the way, I’m not going to post the Points Table every time I write one of these, as nothing much will change from one post to another. It’d be like looking at any sports league table over the past four weeks. I’ll update things and do it every couple of posts or so.
Or…The Great Gog continues…stretching the link to breaking point (You’re by no means the worst cuplrit, fill your boots)…given my ramblings above…[this] would seem appropriate:
Next up, over to The Robster from the annoyingly still dormant Is This the Life blog who offers this:
All I could come up with is Get Up by R.E.M. but I’m sure I can come up with something else given time. Probably got, what, 18 months before the next installment? which is a bit rich, coming from the man who only posts anything at the end of the year. Go on click that link to his blog, let’s see if we can’t get him back in action. Your country needs you, Rob!
I posted the album version of this song not so long ago in my I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays series, so here’s a slightly different version, a live one, which pops up as one of the bonus tracks on the Collector’s Edition of the Shiny Happy People CD single.
But since the band themselves have practically disowned that single (guitarist Peter Buck once described it as “relentlessly upbeat” and also said “If we did one of those per record, I could see how it could get a little embarrassing”) maybe we should too; it’s notable for it’s absence from many of the Greatest Hits compilations, despite it being their =4th biggest hit in the UK (after, in reverse order: Leaving New York (#5), E-Bow The Letter (#4) and The Great Beyond (#3))
They weren’t so embarrased by it that they declined to do this, though (and who could blame them: would you turn down the chance to appear with the Muppets on Sesame Street???)
I love that the female vocalist is a Muppet who looks like Kate Pierson from The B-52s who, as you all know, provided the additional vocals on the single.
But I digress: this version is neither the album version nor the tucked-away-on-a-limited-edition-CD single version, but one I *coughs* obtained from a long gone and much missed blog called (I think…) The Independence of Tractors (long-time bloggers and blog followers may be able to jog my memory….I’m thinking of featuring this soon and would like to accredit, so if anyone has any info….y’know….), who once posted the whole of the band’s Tourfilm DVD as a series of mp3s:
I got a bit worried when you mentioned Jarvis and his controversial stunt at the Brits as I remember whose expense it was at. But no, it was our friendly water boys who if I remember correctly soaked Two Jags Prescott. Sticking to my Scottish band theme I’m therefore going to go with The Waterboys for the next link and sticking with my “water” theme in this comments box, the song….
Since we’re on Prescott, indulge me for a moment with my two favourite clips involving him. The first isn’t really about him, but it is from a documentary he made back in 2008 called Prescott – The Class System And Me:
I guarantee you, she voted Brexit.
And then there’s this notorious clip:
In his defence: a) what would you do if someone chucked an egg at you? and b) later (admittedly when he’d had time to get someone else to write a witty response think of something clever to say, he came up with this: “Well, Tony Blair asked me to go out and connect with the electorate….”
Anyway, that leads me to my next suggestion of the week:
Over now to Martin from New Amusements who proffers this Prescott related…um… jewel, I guess:
Like George, I’m going with a John Prescott connection, but hope to craft mine into a Double Linker. Yes, Danbert Nobacon once up-ended an ice-bucket over John Prescott at the Brits, but John Prescott was also memorably once replaced on ‘Have I Got News For You’ with a tub of lard, so I can surely claim a double link to Tubthumping for anything lard-related, so I’ll pitch:
He’s not done yet: …which, lest we forget, featured Marc “Lard” Riley. Since this is also about drinking, much like Chumbawumba’s chorus, could this be a Triple Linker? And maybe a point for worst suggestion of the week?
I don’t think I can refuse, can I, dear reader? It’s unquestionably the worst record of the week (POINT!) and he has managed to get a triple link out of this, the first time this has happened as far as I can recall (Ermmmm…points, I guess….).
I think we need to cleanse our palate a little, and remind ourselves that Martin could easily have dodged the sub-Barron Knights tosh that is The Shirehorses by referencing it and then directing us to this:
If that’s not a double-linker, than I don’t know what is.
Well, yes, Yes it is. POINTS!
Anyway, for continuity purposes, take a step back. If You Tolerate This… was the band’s first #1 single in the UK (I’m sure this can all be traced back to a shared cheese salad…) and it contains the line “Well, if I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists”, which leads me to another draft post of mine which I never got round to finishing. And neither Chas nor Dave are anywhere in sight.
This one even had a semi-clever title: “You’re Not The One For Me, Fascist”.
I’ll hand over to the ever wonderful Charity Chic to explain:
Chumbawumba recorded a song with Credit to the Nation called ‘The Day the Nazi Died’…
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t allow a suggestion which was simply “X recorded the source record, and they also recorded this”, but since this was a collaboration with the frankly quite marvellous Credit to the Nation, I’ll let it slide.
Plus: Charity Chic has a point to make:
….Morrissey (who may or may not be a Nazi) – he continues (“Not my words, the words of Top Gear car magazine!”) had a song called:
…And he is a bit of a tub these days who could probably do with a good thumping…Charity Chic signs off.
Just in case you’re not sure what CC is banging on about, or on which side of the fence you should be sitting when it comes to the whole “Is Morrissey a racist?” question, well I’ll leave you to make your own mind up.
And here to help you is a picture of him performing live on The Jimmy Fallon Show in May 2019:
And here’s a close-up of the badge he’s wearing on his lapel:
In case you’re not familiar with it, and I hope you’re not, that is a For Britain badge.
For Britain are not nice people.
Oh my, indeed.
Here’s my rule of thumb when it comes to Morrissey, which you are welcome to adopt: yes, when he was in The Smiths he made some inflammatory comments in interviews, but none of them leaked into his lyrics. Since The Smiths split and he went solo, they have. Regularly.
So: The Smiths – fine to still express love and admiration; Morrissey solo – tread carefully.
Which leads me to a suggestion from Jules of Music From Magazines fame, which *checks notes* I’m disqualifying becuase *checks notes*…well, I’m not sure why to be honest, but I am and that’s that:
Carrying on with the high five, Mel Brooks ‘Hitler Rap’
Ah now, I remember; in response to Charity Chic’s anti-Moz post, Jules responded: A high five for that and I don’t think that’s enough to allow it.
Yes, I am a strict Taskmaster, and yes, Greg Davies, watch your back!
What else have you got, Jules?
As I am a tad partial to a cider drink or eight anything I suggest at closing time will make sense….
Well, long time readers of The Chain will know that certain things crop up repeatedly. For sure is eggs is eggs, someone will suggest either a record by The Clash or Bruce Springsteen just to annoy George, and Jules will suggest something by Lambchop.
No, not that Lambchop….
So let’s unclasp the shackles and let Jules free; I have to say that I almost rejected all that you are about to enjoy, until I thought about his first suggestion a little harder:
Any crossword fan would see the anagram “wham bam Cuba” and the country’s name was nailed by the Gibson Brothers:
Now, let’s be honest: every time we’re unlucky enough to hear that, all we can really think of is this:
…Dave Grohl left the drum stool, strapped on a guitar and became Mr Foo…which sounds like a George Formby record (“Oh Mr Foo, what shall I do…? A niche joke, I know), but I’ve gone off at enough tangents, so we’ll leave that.
This song has featured in The Chain before so strictly speaking should be disqualified, but looking back I see that both this and The Rezillos version were suggsted at the same time, and, unable to choose between the two, I posted both. So I’ll let this slide too…but only so I can post my favourite record about somebody getting their head kicked in:
…link being Chumbawamba covered this on the “Fuck EMI” compilation.
Which leads me back to The Robster, who hasn’t quite had the eighteen months he ribbed me with earlier to think things over, but nonetheless has returned with this:
I remember when Tubthumping came out, it was released on EMI *shock-horror* a filthy major label. The band was deluged with accusations of selling out and going back on its DIY ethos. But one of the reasons they signed to EMI was because previous label One Little Indian rejected the ‘Tubthumper’ album as they didn’t like its sound. The band subsequently signed to EMI as “…experience had taught us that in a capitalist environment almost every record company operates on capitalist principles. Our previous record label One Little Indian didn’t have the evil symbolic significance of EMI but they were completely motivated by profit. Our position was that whoever we signed with would want us not for our ideas but for the potential profit, so we’d battle for a contract where we still had autonomy.”
So to that end, I’m offering up…a song about the music industry’s obsession with making moolah with little regard for the art:
We’re on the home stretch now, I promise. And with the finish line in sight, the baton is thrust into Alex G’s hand:
Of course, a song about a man who drinks a whiskey drink, a cider drink, a lager drink AND a vodka drink naturally leads us to Shane MacGowan. I suppose any song would do, but just to keep the theme going, it may as well be…
What Alex G omits to mention is that That Woman’s Got Me Drinking features the guitar work of one Mr Johnny Depp. When he’s not acting in the latest Tim Burton movie, or appearing in an advert for something smelly, or getting stopped at the border of an antipodean country trying to smuggle dogs across and subsequently being forced to make an apologetic if half-arsed video rather than go to jail, or defending himself against allegations of domestic abuse for that matter, there’s nothing Mr Depp likes more than to pop up in unexpected places:
Where were we?
Ah yes, booze related songs. I’m surprised there wasn’t more of these. Let me chuck one into the mix:
Two famous song titles are more or less quoted in the lyrics of ‘Tubthumping’ – the first one being ‘Danny Boy’, which, as we all know, is the Anthem of Northern Ireland. And what is the finest thing Northern Ireland ever produced, apart from ships (minus the Titanic. Obviously)?
Alas it’s not [I know] (although, Jez, nevertheless this should be a good excuse to include said tune in your essay straightaway), because, as I said, another song is being mentionedand that is ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’. Yes, I have noticed that Chumbawamba omit the ‘Argentina’ – bit (and replace it by ‘next door neighbour’). But this is purely for copyright infringement reasons, I’m sure.
Now, ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ is a song done by Julie Covington back in 1976. But only (freaks like) you and me know this. And Wikipedia. To the wider public another version is much better known, and that’s the one by Madonna from 1997.
So the link, no question about that, is, to my great dismay (because I would have LOVED to see my other option), Madonna’s version of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’.
I mean, love ya for trying and all that, but it isn’t the link, and frankly Covington’s version pisses all over Madonna’s attempt, so Dirk: you shall (metaphorically) go to the (metaphorical) ball!
Brassed Off was on Film 4 the other night. It remains a thing of beauty. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, and have a couple of hours to kill (which, I think I’m safe in saying we all do at the moment) then you could do a lot worse than spend them watching this: it’s up to stream on the C4 app All4.
And that leaves just one thing: the unveiling of the next link in The Chain, and trust me, had anybody got this I would have been suspicious.
Here’s the official link from Tubthumping to the next record:
[Tubthumping] was once sung by Homer Simpson of cartoon fame. He also sang:
Your suggestions then, please, along with your explanation of how your suggestion links to Mellow Yellow by Donovan, via the Comments section below or, if you must, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.
I can’t let the week end without mentioning Wednesday evening, when one of the most incredible football matches I’ve ever watched took place in Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.
For those of you who don’t follow football at all, it was the second leg of the Quarter Final of the Champions League, and City were playing my beloved Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs held a slender 1-0 advantage after the first leg, not something I anticipated for one second we would hold on to, for City at home are an awesome opponent, who we’ve come unstuck against on many occasions over the past few years.
The match kicked off at 20:00 hours, and what happened over the next couple of hours was exciting, breath-taking, tense, controversial, and goals, lots of goals – in short, every thing a football fan hopes for in a game. A great advertisement for the game, Bryan.
Bit of a spoiler on the title of this clip, mind:
I’ve been a bit wary of VAR up until now, but now I bloody love it.
There’s some songs I love which I don’t really know the words to.
One such song is today’s pick, which a brief t’internet search tells me are these:
“Though this world’s essentially an absurd place to be living in, it doesn’t call for bubble withdrawal
I’ve been told it’s a fact of life, men have to kill one another
Well I say there are still things worth fighting for: La resistance!”
It’s not your typical One Direction (or whoever is the current flavour of the month is) lyric, is it?
Whilst I’ve been stubbonly not commenting on recent political events (you all know what I think, I’m not going to change anybody’s mind here, so I choose not to bang on), I can’t ignore that Tory (Remain) MP Anna Soubry (amongst others) was recently cajoled and confronted by a group of right-wing (Leave) gammons as she tried to attend a television interview and then go to work. The group, clad in yellow hi-vis jackets, bombarded her with insults, shouting that she was a Nazi.
Putting aside the irony of them calling her a Nazi for a moment, this was totally unacceptable, of course, and I’d be saying the same thing were it a left wing group who had hassled her, or anyone else. The fact that I’m bothering to defend a Tory MP should tell you enough.
But allegiances beside, there’s an interesting point here: the gang, and subsequent protestors, have worn their yellow hi-vis jackets seemingly as an homage to, or to display unity with, the recent working class gilete-jaune French protestors.
That’s France, who are part of the EU.
Nice of these pro-Leave, anti-EU idiots to point out a further similarity with our brothers and sisters in the EU…..
Time for a tune from that notoriously tolerant bequiffed chap we all used to like, but now feel rather conflicted about:
It’s the day after the night before; the projectile vomiting has ceased but everything now is a bit of a blur. There seems to be a never-ending line of consultants, usually accompanied by a bevy of medical students, queueing up outside my room, each of whom comes in, pokes, prods and questions me, before telling me they’ll be putting in a request for a CT scan, or an X-ray, or some other procedure, to be done. I am too muggy to seek clarification for the most part.
There are two things which I do know by now; firstly, one of the consultants tells me that one of my test results has shown that my kidneys are “bone-dry”. As such, I am placed on a liquid only diet (by which they sadly mean water), and a rehydrating drip is inserted into my left hand. Shortly afterward, my hand has swollen up, and I am reminded of Alan Partridge in the ‘difficult years’ (before he “Bounced Back” ™, when he had a breakdown, put on loads of weight, drove to Dundee in his bare feet, chomping on numerous Toblerones:
…whilst also finding gainful employment hosting “Police! Stop!” sell-through type videos:
But I digress: the other thing I know is that I am going to be here for a while. The day before, when I was still on the first ward, I was informed that they wanted to do skin biopsies, three in total: one on my inner leg, one on my stomach, one on my back.
I have only ever heard the term “biopsy” being mentioned in relation to cancer, and I am suddenly terrified. The nursing staff put my mind at rest; there is presently no thought that I have skin (or any other type of) cancer (Yes, I noticed the inclusion of the clause “presently” into their assurances too); rather there are many different variations of psoriasis, and my skin is showing at least three different types, so they just want to clarify precisely what it is they are dealing with here.
The biopsies are done on the ward, under local anaesthetic, a small scalpel incision to each site, duly sutured up. I ask the chap performing the task whether the stitches will dissolve or not; they won’t, and will need to be removed in 14 days.
“So, do I just go to my GP to have that done,” I ask, “or do I need to come back here?”
He looks at me a little oddly.
“No, you’ll probably still be here when they need to come out.”
Two weeks! I really need to source a phone charger, I decide.
Now, in what seems a rare moment of undisturbed bliss, I decide to check my phone. As I have forgotten to bring a charger, I have elected to keep it turned off to conserve the battery, until a charger has been sourced. I have asked every nurse, consultant, and student who comes anywhere near me if they can find one I can borrow, but one is as yet to materialise.
I have a few text messages, some from friends but mostly from my mother, enquiring, with gradually increasing alarm, as to my well-being; a few missed calls, all from my mother; and one voicemail, also from my mother. The message is just this: “Where are you?”, and I deduce from her anguished tone contacting her should be pretty high on my list of priorities.
Up until now, bar the phone call to tell them I had been summoned back to hospital, and a text to tell them I’d arrived, pretty much all that my folks know is based on a text exchange on the night I was admitted, which reads:
Me: “Not as concerned as they were, but being kept in overnight. Catheter fitted.”
Mother: “Do you mean a cannula?”
Me: “No, A catheter.”
Trust me, by then I knew the difference. (A cannula is a drip inserted into your arm. A catheter most definitely is not.)
But what to say? I genuinely have very little idea what is going on, and as it stands all I can say is that I’ve moved wards, now have my own room, and will have for the foreseeable future.
I ask one of the nurses, Jess, if she would mind speaking to my mother, and fill her in on my situation. Not a problem, says Jess. And so I call home, but instead of speaking to my mother first and explaining what is about to happen, I hand the phone to Jess, who introduces herself and explains that all is going as well as can be expected.
It doesn’t occur to me until she hands me the phone back that I have not played this well.
What I think I have done is this: rather than provide a rather rambling, befuddled account of the past 24 hours or so, I have responsibly provided a degree of clarity from one of my carers.
What I’ve actually done is this: after hours of no contact at all, and where all my parents know is that I have been instructed to get to hospital as a matter of urgency, for reasons unknown, I have forced my mother into an unintroduced conversation with a hospital representative, who is calling her from my phone. They must have thought the worst had happened. (Sorry!)
My folks tell me they will be down to visit as soon as possible, within the next day or so. They ask if there’s anything I want them to bring; I suggest a phone charger might be an idea, a dressing gown would be nice, but not to bother with any food as I am on liquids only. I dutifully promise to stay in touch as much as I can.
And so, for the next day or so, a daily routine entrenches itself in my life. I am woken at around 6am, when blood pressure and blood tests are done and I am administered with my medication. At some point, twice a day, ointment is applied to my skin. Occasionally, a porter is summoned and I am wheeled off to be scanned or X-rayed for something or other, generally I know not what.
I spend a lot of time sleeping, but it’s the kind of sleep where I’m just sort of bubbling under the surface. Often I will drift off when there is a nurse in the room, and as he or she busies themselves with their checks and tasks, I mutter garbled nonsense at them. Occasionally, one will reply loud enough to wake me with a start, and I feel a little embarrased, enquiring what it was that I’d said.
I think we need to back up a little bit there. Yes, you did spot it, and no, I’m not going to let it slide: I did just mention that ointment has to be applied to my skin twice a day. All of it. Little Jez included.
And every day, when it happens, for reasons which will become obvious, I am reminded of a scene from Dennis Potter’s 1980s BBC drama series The Singing Detective.
Sadly, I am unable to locate any clips of the (infinitely superior) original BBC production online to post, but there was a (nowhere near as good) Hollywood remake, and so here’s the relevant scene. Please substitute Robert Downey Jr. for Michael Gambon as the bed-ridden (due to a much more extreme case of psoriasis then I had) Philip E. Marlow, and Katie Holmes with Joanna Whalley-Kilmer as the foxy nurse. You’ll get the gist, I think:
Much as the nurse tried to make the whole procedure seem as normal and unembarrasing as possible, occasionally the application is punctuated by her saying “And now I’m just going to touch your testicles”, which frankly didn’t help one little bit.
And so to some songs which, once again, will now be ruined by association, ranging from the very obvious:
Blimey. Unsolicited actions are everywhere at the moment.
The exposure of bloated sex wart-hog Harvey Weinstein seems to have been the cork in the bottle; now he’s been popped out of the way, all of the other stories of impropriety, knee and buttock fondling, and much, much worse are pouring out.
First, Kevin Spacey, who when faced with allegations of attempting to shag a fourteen-year old boy years ago (Kevin: it doesn’t matter how long ago it was, or how drunk you say you were, he was still fourteen – and you weren’t) decided, in perhaps the least savvy bit of PR since Gerald Ratner described the jewellery he sold as “total crap…cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long”, to try and take control of the story by declaring that he now chooses to “live life as a gay man”, thus linking homosexuality with paedophilia in a way that many thought we had passed a long time ago, and thereby setting the gay movement back by at least ten years.
To try and use his homosexuality as a shield is unforgiveable, pathetic. Plus, his homosexuality came as a surprise to precisely nobody; it’s been the worst kept secret in Hollywood for years now – even I knew, and I’ve never met the man, or anyone who knows him, nor have I been to Hollywood. But, it’s been a running joke for a long time about him having to pay glamorous women to accompany him to premiers and red carpet events. Had you Googled the words “Kevin Spacey escorts” about three weeks ago, you’d have seen what I meant; do it now and you’d probably have to scroll a long way down to find the gossip I’m talking about.
There will be more of these, mark my words. We all know what the phrase “casting couch” means.
I really hope the stuff about Hoffman isn’t true, though. Every Christmas I rue the fact that I can’t listen to Gary Glitter’s “Another Rock’n’Roll Christmas” (he is vile, the song is not) anymore and so the idea of never again being able to watch The Graduate, or Marathon Man, or All The President’s Men, or Midnight Cowboy, or Little Big Man, or Lenny, or Straw Dogs, or Papillon, or Stranger Than Fiction…I’d rather not lose that huge slice of my life. But lose it I must if what is alleged is true. (I realise I’m not the victim here, by the way)
And now the sleaze focus has shifted to Westminster and our own Parliament, where Michael Fallon has had to quit his position as Defence Secretary not because of his knee groping with a female journalist (I do begrudge having to describe Julia Hartley-Brewer as a journalist, by the way. Katie Hopkins with a thesaurus seems more apt) but because his conduct, in his own words, had “fallen short” of the high standards he should be setting. This was after a further allegation, made by Andrea “Still a Mother, but with Cold Hands” Leadsom, that he had suggested that he knew “somewhere you can put them [her hands] to warm up”, came out.
There’s a whole dossier on Tory MPs’ inappropriate behaviour, naming 36 different cases, including the queasy tale of Mark Garnier who got his former assistant Caroline Edmondson – who he charmingly insisted on calling “Sugar Tits” – to purchase some sex toys from a shop in Soho whilst he waited outside. Because standing outside a sex-shop whilst somebody else goes in to get your wish-list is a much better look than actually buying it yourself.
Much as I’d love to, I’d be foolish to think this is just limited to the Conservative Party; for now, just as sure as eggs are eggs and perverts are perverts, allegations have emerged against Labour MPs too; Clive Lewis has been accused of groping a woman at this year’s Labour Party Conference (he denies it), and Kelvin Hopkins, has been suspended after allegations that he sent “inappropriate” text messages and rubbed himself up against a young woman after a political event. Presumably not at the same time, unless he was on PAYG and could claim the 10p per text message tariff back on expenses.
But, most repulsively, there’s Labour campaigner Bex Bailey’s allegation that not only was she raped by a senior Labour party figure (not an MP) at a Labour Party event in 2011 (my money’s on….no, I’d better not), but that when she found the courage to report the matter, she was advised by senior officials not to take it further because it may damage her career to do so.
Before all the readers on the other side of the pond start crowing about the turmoil in UK politics, just remember that we’re just finding out about this now; prior to last year’s election you had Donald Trump, on tape, boasting about how he gropes women, and you still went ahead and voted him in.
And what do all of these men have in common? They’re all, to varying degrees, in positions of power. Power which they – allegedly in some cases, admittedly in some – used to satisfy their pathetic urges.
Oh, and don’t think that this will end here. For just as we all know the meaning of the term “casting couch”, we also all know the phrase “groupies”; and do you really think that every rock star, presented with an adoring, willing, pliable and vulnerable young girl stopped to check their ID before doing whatever they did with them? Think again: a rock star you love is going to get taken down by this (and rightly so if true).
And we will hear again and again, as we already have, the defence that the accused is “a dinosaur”, that their behaviour was acceptable “back in the day”. No. No, it really wasn’t. It’s the power thing again; back then it was even harder for women to speak out than it is now, and you only have to look at the abhorrent backlash against some of the victims happening now to see how tough it is now. (I follow Labour MP Stella Creasey on Twitter – partly because I generally agree with her politics, but in all honesty mostly because she likes The Wedding Present – and this morning I have read, with increasing bewilderment, sadness and dejection, men criticise her for having the audacity to suggest that men should be held to account for their pervy actions.)
Without wishing to sound like I’m trivialising this matter (as much as I know some of you enjoy me having a rant, this is primarily a music blog), it’s pretty simple. Here’s a rule of thumb for men in power – no, scrub that, for men everywhere – to live their life by.
If the Georgia Satellites – who, let’s face it, don’t look the sharpest tools in the box – could get their heads round it back in 1986, then there’s no reason that actors, movie moguls, politicians and (probably) rock stars and any other pork sword bearer hasn’t got it by now: