(Not So) Instant Replay

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.

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Dan Hartman – Instant Replay

We play City again later today, in the Premiership. I absolutely expect them to have their revenge and absolutely batter us.

But until then, something to appease City’s fans, an olive branch if you will:

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Morrissey – Disappointed

More soon.

La Resistance!

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:

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Morrissey – I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris

And, for balance, the song I quoted earlier:

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Stereolab – French Disko

More soon.

Don’t Look Me in the Eye

Strap yourselves in, this is a long one.

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.

“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.

It’s about time we had a tune:

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The Romantics – Talking In Your Sleep

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:

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Frankie Valli – Grease

…to the less so:

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Motorhead & Girlschool – Please Don’t Touch

All of this would have been fine, had the rubber-gloved nurse, as I tried to avoid eye-contact, not been singing this*, whilst rubbing the oozing goo into into my every crevice:

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Morrissey – The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get

(*I’m kidding, of course she didn’t.)

Sunday afternoon. It’s lube-time in my room. I am laid on my back, stripped naked, legs akimbo, as the nurse applies the ointment.

She engages in some non-testicular conversation:

“Did you say you parents were coming to visit? When do you think they’ll be here?”

“Literally any moment now.”

At which point, right on cue, the door opens and my parents walk in.

I turn my head (Stop it!) towards them  and say: “Can you give us a minute please?”

They hurriedly exit and close the door.

Moments later, my lubrication ablutions completed, they return.

As they sit and get comfortable, before even a hello is uttered, my father says: “Do you remember The Singing Detective?”

More soon.

Keep Your Hands To Yourself

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:

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Georgia Satellites – Keep Your Hands To Yourself

Oh, and of course Morrissey knows best:

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Morrissey – Such a Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference

More, possibly less ranty, soon.

(Im)Peaches

From Saturday’s Grauniad:

“The first charges have been issued in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion by members of the Trump campaign and arrests could be imminent, according to several reports.

I’ll just leave this here:

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The Presidents of the United States of America – Peaches

Oh, and this:

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Morrissey – The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get

Not forgetting this, included simply because I don’t have a song which references “It’s Mueller Time”:

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Flight of the Conchords – Business Time

Sit back with the popcorn, this could be amazing.

More soon.

The Last of the Famous International Playboys

In the early hours of this morning, I was woken by the death knell that is the BBC app news flash.

Expecting it to foretell imminent Trump-inspired apocalyptical oblivion, I read it, only to find some dirty old man wearing a dressing gown in a big house had died, surrounded by women at not even half his age, who he had enticed into his world with a set of clip-on rabbit ears.

That man was Playboy magazine founder, Hugh Hefner.

*Insert joke about tossing and turning myself back to sleep here*

So, as I imagine you’ll be hearing this record accompanying the news updates a lot today, I figured I’d get in first:

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Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

More soon.