The Chain #46

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!

Chumbawamba – Tubthumping (Album Version)

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…

Art Garfunkel – Bright Eyes

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:

Bright Eyes – Down in a Rabbit Hole

Which gives me an unexpectedly early opportinty to to dust off my catchprase (he says, as he dons a spangly suit).

*Ahem*

Well, if you’re having that, then [all together now] I’m having this:

Chas & Dave – Rabbit

Sorry, Rol, where were we?

The soundtrack to Brassed Off was performed by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, Rol continues. The Grimethorpe Colliery Band also played on this famous John Peel favourite:

Roy Harper – When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease

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:

R.E.M. – Get Up (Tourfilm Version)

Onwards, then, to the next suggestion, and to Alyson from What’s It All About? who proffers this:

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….

The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues

I think I should step in and clarify that, according to their Wikipedia page, they’re a Scottish-Irish band..

Anyway, nice of you to bring up the subject of Chumbawamba’s dust up with John Precott at The Brits, as this gives us licence to go off at a bit of a tangent.

To start things off, here’s George:

A Chumbawumba was involved in an altercation with then deputy PM John Prescott, who was the MP for Hull. Also from Hull was Mick Ronson, who played guitar on:

Lulu – The Man Who Sold the World

It’s not really a surprise that Ronson was involved, given who wrote the song and who – keen-eared listeners will have noticed – also provides backing vocals on that: one Mr D Bowie Esq.

George adds: I was going to go from John “Two Jags” Prescott to The Jags and Back of my Hand, but changed my mind.

What, and you think that’s going to stop me posting it? Of course you don’t, you know I won’t be able to resist:

The Jags – Back Of My Hand

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:

The Chemical Brothers (feat. Tim Burgess) – The Boxer

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:

The Shirehorses – If You Tolerate This Piss

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:

Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

Which brings me back to Rol, whose first suggestion was this:

The Manic Street Preachers must be guilty of Tubthumping, since that’s what Street Preachers do.

Alice Nutter was in Chumbawamba. The Manics once covered an Alice Cooper song. So…

Manic Street Preachers – Under My Wheels

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’…

Chumbawamba & Credit to the Nation – The Day The Nazi Died (1993 Mix)

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:

Morrissey – First of the Gang to Die

…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….

I beg to differ, but nonetheless:

Tom Waits – Closing Time

Please allow me to interject with something more cheerful but less good:

Semisonic – Closing Time

And then with something less good and less cheerful:

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time

Ok, who’s left?

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:

Gibson Brothers – Cuba

Don’t think Debbie Gibson was related but her role in the film “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid” was ably supported by Tiffany...

Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now

Whoa there! You can’t mention Debbie Gibson and expect me not to slide this in, for no other reason than to direct you away from the schmaltz:

Mojo Nixon & Skip Roper – Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child

Well, that hasn’t lost any of it’s charm, has it?

Right, where were we? Ah yes, with Jules. Off you go, feller. Pretend I said nothing. I promise not to interupt again.

Ah yes “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, not that song

What, this song….? (I lied)

Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Jesus, I’d forgotten how much I hate that record.

…not that song, but the film that featured Moon River...

This..?

Audrey Hepburn – Moon River

At last! A bit of class is introduced around these parts!

Oh wait, he’s not done yet.

…but more importantly was based on a novella by Truman Capote. Harry S. Truman was the 33rd U.S. president, the 37th was Richard Nixon….

Lambchop – The Old Gold Shoe

There it is! Normality restored.

Where next? Step up to the plate, if you will, Rigid Digit:

Tubthumping – a synonym for drumming (or it is in my world anyway).

Drummers doing solo singles? Not a rare thing. Plenty of stuff from Ringo…

Ringo Starr – It Don’t Come Easy

….and Phil Collins

Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

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.

Foo Fighters – The Pretender

Even Keith Moon managed a solo album (word of advice: approach with caution).

I have to draw the line somewhere…

But I’m choosing the drummer who was invited to join the reformed ELP in the mid-80s for two reasons:

1) He was a great drummer

2) His surname began with P

Cozy Powell – Dance With The Devil

Let’s hand the baton on to Walter from A Few Good Times In My Life:

The main thing of Tubthumping is keep your head up whatever will be. This leads me to:

Curtis Mayfield – Keep on Keeping On

 …otherwise by…

The Redskins – Keep On Keepin’ On!

If I could award points for Best Record of The Week, that would win, hands down.

Back then to some email submissions I received, and I’ll hand over to Pat from phonicpat for a bit:

“….a couple of suggestions – a link to a thumping:

Earl Vince & The Valiants – Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite

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:

The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight

What else have you got, Pat?

Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel

…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:

The Kinks – The Money Go Round

Hang on a minute: that’s two mentions of the same record company in as many messages. It’s almost like somebody has manipulated it so the suggestions fell this way…

Sex Pistols – E.M.I.

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

Shane MacGowan and the Popes – That Woman’s Got Me Drinking

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:

The Wurzels – I Am A Cider Drinker

And yes, The Shirehorses song is worse than that.

Hold up, Pat’s got another one:

Several booze songs come to mind but I’ll go for…

Pulp – Whiskey in the Jar

…on the bonus cd of Different Class, Jarvis trying very hard to keep his own accent rather than channelling Phil Lynott.

Pat has a point; I much prefer it when Jarvis sounds like Jarvis, rather than trying to sound like a drug-addicted partner of gameshow host Leslie Crowther’s daughter.

Hey Dirk! Dirk! DIRK! Fancy suggesting something mate?

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)?

Oh blimey, there’s a can of worms opened…

It’s of course:

The Undertones – Teenage Kicks

Phew!

…which could well be the link here. (It isn’t.)

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 mentioned and 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!

Julie Covington – Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

I always thought that ended rather abruptly, like the whole orchestra had spotted that David Essex had the microphone again, and downed tools to wrestle it from his sweaty palms.

Last one, now (sort of), for inspired by Dirk’s moving words, Walter has something else to offer:

…as Dirk said ‘Danny Boy is is the North Irish anthem and House of Pain celebrated the Irish style on their first album. Therefore I suggest:

House of Pain – Jump Around

(We may have to explain the difference between Northern and Southern Ireland to our overseas friends one day. But not today.)

I say sort of, because of course I have something else to offer.

Dirk also mentions Danny Boy, and you’ll recall that, several hours ago when you first started reading this, Rol mentioned the film Brassed Off and The Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

Which, just to make this all nice and circular (you know, like I know what I’m doing) makes right here a pretty good point to jump off:

The Grimethorpe Colliery Band – Danny Boy

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:

Donovan – Mellow Yellow

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 dubioustaste26@gmail.com.

Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.

More soon.

(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.

dan

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:

Everyday Is Like Sunday Front

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:

morrissey_im-throwing-my-arms-around-paris_2

Morrissey – I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris

And, for balance, the song I quoted earlier:

94aed3e9fd15d013c1093230b019d1cb_555x555x1 (2)

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.

“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.

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.

Which Reminds Me…

And so this is where we’ve been heading all day, unbeknownst to any of us, least of all me.

Earlier, I mentioned Morrissey. Just now I mentioned Girls Aloud and a tune with a vaguely Rockabilly sound.

And so to this:

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Morrissey – Pregnant For The Last Time

Wedding party DJs of the world rejoice, for if you play that and the Girls Aloud tune next to each other, you will see which fills the floor more and work out where to go from there.

(PS – It’ll be the Girls Aloud one. Nobody likes the mention of a pregnancy at a wedding.)

More soon!

A Load of Blowing Fetlocks

So by now you’ll have heard the devastating news.

Tonight is the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, and multiple winners Ireland will not be represented.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but think of that episode of “Father Ted”, where Ted and Dougal against all odds are selected to represent Ireland, for the country has won it so many times it can’t afford to do so again.

The song in question was composed (and shhh…! performed) by Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy – as was the theme tune (Pulp were asked, but turned it down), which was performed on one of William Reid of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s guitars (factoid!) – and saw the light of day as an extra track on the “Gin Soaked Boy” CD single.

Oh, and here:

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The Divine Comedy – My Lovely Horse

I guess you may as well have the “video” for it too:

The UK have qualified though, with former X-Factor contestant Lucie Jones (she was beaten by Jedward, so you can insert your own joke here if you like) flying the flag where such luminaries as Blue and Scooch have failed before. And, without wanting to go all political on you, this will be the first Eurovision since the Brexit referendum; we’ve done really badly for the last few years, so just imagine how badly we’ll do now we’ve told all those we want to vote for us to fuck off. Maybe if the Remain campaign had written “We Will Never Win Eurovision Again!” on the side of a bus this time last year…

Perhaps it’s time we took stock of our involvement in this competition, and instead of using unknowns, wannabes, hopefuls, and failed TV singing contestants, we wheeled out the old guard.

I read an interview with Paul Weller the other day where he said he’d be interested in writing the song at the very least, and a few years ago Morrissey said he’d happily represent the UK. In fact, his announcement, by sheer coincidence, came at much the same time as he released this as a single:

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Morrissey – You Have Killed Me

…a song which featured a video which was pretty much a dry-run for an appearance at the finals:

I dunno. Personally, I’d prefer it if we didn’t enter a ballad every year. Maybe cranked up the kitsch a little.

I’ve written before how I was obsessed with Bucks Fizz’s “Making Your Mind Up” when I was a young ‘un, but, as I’ve said before (and yes, I am going to post this next song every year)  my favourite UK Eurovision entry isn’t by them.

It’s from the year after The Fizz only went and won the bloody thing back in 1981 with their skirt-ripping and hand-jive combo: a tough act to follow, indeed.

This song came seventh on the night, but it did recently crop up, to my absolute delight, in the first episode of the second (and not as good as the first, in my opinion) series of “Peter Kay’s Car Share”. A song which Hel and I on many occasions attempted to recreate the dance moves to, but only when we were far too pissed to be able to stand, let along shimmy up and down each others backs.

This:

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Bardo – One Step Further

Just in case the dance routine reference goes above your head, here:

Seriously, if I ever had to list my favourite fifty singles – and, since I’m rapidly approaching the age of fifty (two and a bit years to go), and making such lists seems to be what bloggers do when reaching a landmark age, it seems entirely likely that I will – I guarantee that song would not only be in it, but in the upper reaches of it.

Anyway, if you’re watching Eurovision tonight, enjoy it and, much as Graham Norton will make a fine fist of the commentary, raise a glass to Sir Terry with me, won’t you?

More soon.