I mentioned in passing a while ago that it’s hard to have one of my Saturday morning rants sometimes, because satirical behemoths Have I Got News For You (BBC1) and The News Quiz (BBC Radio 4) have already aired and I worry that I may be accused of stealing someone’s point, or worse, their joke.
So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve not yet listened to this week’s edition of The News Quiz, but I have watched this week’s edition of Have I Got News For You and my heart sank when one of the panellists made exactly the same point as I intended to make in this post. I’ll let you know when I get to it.
Other than the continuingly inept handling of the Covid crisis, the big story over the past couple of weeks has been Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to ensure that whilst the crisis continues, he’d rather children whose parents were unable to work because of the crisis didn’t starve. Of course, that ethic extends to all children, but the main thrust is those whose families are directly affected by Covid in terms of their ability to work.
Mistake number one by the Government: having acquiesced to his previous campaign, they awarded him an MBE thinking that would be enough to make him go away. But here he still is, being a pain and asking for more.
Quite right too: we’re nowhere near beating Covid, more and more areas are being pushed into Tier 3 restrictions and things are not getting any easier for a lot of people.
And yet: his proposal to extend the free school meals provision for those on Universal Credit or equivalent into half-terms and the Christmas holidays was backed by a Labour motion, which called for the scheme to be extended even longer, into school holidays until Easter 2021. It was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – a majority of 61.
I imagine those “up North” who lent the Conservatives their vote at the last election, only to see their local areas dealt with entirely differently to, say, us in That London, are really pleased with their decision and will be doing so again next time around.
By way of justification for voting down a bill which seems such a no-brainer to vote for, a whole stream of Tory MPs we’ve never heard of before were pushed in front of TV cameras to justify the Goverment’s position, and pretty much all of them gave this as the reason: parents have to learn to feed their children without the Government’s help. They should learn to not rely on hand-outs and freebies.
Mistake number two by the Government: don’t double down on a decision which in effect says: poor children can starve for all we care.
And this is where my point chimes with a panellist on Have I Got News For You and I have to say I was most surprised the panellist in question was Tory peer Baroness Warsi.
For MPs have a subsidised bar and restaurant within the Houses of Parliament. And to clarify what that means: MPs get to eat and drink cheaply, and we pay the balance. I’m sure they’re all demanding to pay full price in there. Or maybe not, given the situation with the MPs pay rise.
It was recently announced that ministers will still get the MPs’ pay rise along with all members of the House of Commons, but they will not receive any increase on the separate salary they receive on top as members of the government.
The annual rise for MPs is based on a comparison with public sector pay and is subject to a consultation process which ends in November, with a final decision expected the following month and the rise taking effect from April 2021.
On top of their MP’s pay of almost £82,000, ministers receive separate government salaries worth £75,440 for the prime minister, £67,505 for secretaries of state and between £22,375 and £31,680 for lower-ranking ministers.
Recently, it was leaked that Boris was “struggling to survive” on such a meagre income. Perhaps the CSA have finally caught up with him for all those children he’s somehow managed to father. Whatever, my heart bleeds for the poor man, getting paid all that money to do a job he can’t do.
But this goes further than that. You’ll doubtless recall the expenses scandal from 2009 – do you think that has stopped entirely? Or that MPs no longer accept (and declare) any freebies that come their way? Really, if you follow the logic of their argument through, then they should learn to live without these gratuities, right?
Well, as it happens, the 322 Conservative MPs who voted against extending Free School Meals during holidays have themselves accepted £130,780.72 of “declarable” free hospitality during the last (pandemic hit) year. So we have a classic case of “do as I say, but not as I do”.
For example: the Conservative MP for Chippenham, Michelle Donelan, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet she happily accepted £494.23 worth of complimentary pizza for a party.
For example: the Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald, Helen Grant, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet she accepted £500.00 worth of complimentary food and drink for a party of 50 people.
For example: the Conservative MP for Bromsgrove, Sajid Javid, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet he received £713.70 worth of complimentary wine.
For example: Anthony Mangnall, Conservative Member of Parliament for Totnes and South Devon, and Darren Henry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021 yet received, respectively, £3000 to assist with living costs and £2850 to assist with rent in his constituency.
For example (a bit more high-profile this one): Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, but accepted £2340.00 hospitality from Manchester City and the FA.
I could go on, but I may as well just direct you to @grumpyfactcheck on Twitter who provided all of those stats which I’ve used without their permission (I don’t think they’ll mind) and who has posted many, many more examples of Tory hypocrisy.
All these MPs who quite literally have learned to rely on hand-outs and freebies.
And this is the thing, and it goes back to the whole Cummings driving to Durham and then for a two hour jaunt to check his eyesight: we all know there’s one rule for the toffs and one rule for the oiks, and most of the time, though we might shout about it and stamp a bit every now and then, we just accept that’s the way things are.
But in the dangerous, scary times we find ourselves in now, and as the Government vacuously trumpets that “we’re all in this together”, wouldn’t it be nice if just for a second we might think that’s true?
Some songs, the first of which I dedicate to every Conservative MP who voted the bill down but has accepted any freebie or gratuity:
I have a solution to all of this, and I’m with Lemmy (RIP) on this one:
Imagine the crackling on Boris. Yummy.
I don’t know what else to say except that this is the next song on the Mixing Pop and Politics mix-tape I’ve mentioned before, and right now it seems a better idea than at any time before:
So, how are we all doing out there in lockdown land? Climbing up the walls yet? Or just bumbling along fine thanks very much for asking?
I think I fall into the latter category; the more astute of you may have noticed that as well as working from home all week, I’ve managed a post a day for a whole week for the first time in ages. This should not be misconstrued as me having more time on my hands – other than the daily commute to work and back, my life is very much as it was before. I just figured I’d do what most people who have some sort of public access thing going on seems to be doing: give those that are interested something to read and listen to as often as possible.
And at least I haven’t recorded myself singing Imagine yet.
Anyway, I thought what I would do with these Saturday morning posts is have a little ramble through what has happened to me in the previous week, what I had watched, seen, heard, smelt (maybe I’ll leave that one), learned, all illustrated with my trademark sort-of-appropriate song.
So, the first thing to say is that whilst I have been bumbling along for most of the week, I did have a bit of a scare on Saturday night/Sunday morning.
When I decided to self-isolate a couple of weeks ago, it was because I had developed two of the three symptoms which at the time were associated with having the virus: a dry cough and a temperature. But I’d never had the third, shortness of breath.
But that changed last weekend. On Saturday night, I went to bed, but found myself unable to settle. I’ll be honest, a man of my age is rarely able to settle in bed, the hourly mantra being: “Oh Jesus I need to pee again…how can I possibly need to pee again, I haven’t drunk anything since last time…!!”. But this time it was different. This time it was because I couldn’t breathe properly.
I spent hours huffing from bed to sofa and back again, unable to breathe or find anything good to watch on TV at that time of day to take my mind off things.
At one point, I decided that perhaps there wasn’t enough airflow through my flat – all of my windows have been closed since I self-isolated – so at around 6am on Sunday morning I opened the big window behind the sofa and lay down, hoping this would help. But it didn’t.
Try as I did to ignore it, or to convince myself that I was fine and my breathing was getting better, it wouldn’t go away. And so, I finally decided, there was nothing else for it, but to go to A&E.
I packed an overnight bag, cramming a few books, a toothbrush and toothpaste, some lounge pants (NOT pyjama bottoms, thank you very much) and, crucially, my phone charger (I’ve learned my lesson).
And then I did something sensible: I checked the NHS website for advice.
And this is what I found: shortness of breath was no longer considered to be on one the signafying factors (loss of taste and smell had over taken it), and that even if it was, the advice was to stay at home.
Bizarrely, with that information, I was able to relax and breathe again, go back to bed, sleep. I guess it must have been a panic attack, which I can only attribute to the clocks going forwards and me losing an hour in bed.
Actually, not appropriate at all. Air Supply are fucking liars. The Night was worse than the day!
What else have I learned this week?
Regular readers will know that I used to write a series about how the use of records I love in adverts annoyed me, but I think now I can expand this to the following phrase: adverts generally annoy me.
This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever lived with me, for they will doubtless remember me becoming apopleptic at the sight of certain ads. But I thought I’d matured and things bothered me less these days.
Here’s the two adverts that are currently flicking my annoyance banjo-string:
It IS milk. You even say so at the end of the advert. “It’s fresh milk, filtered for purity.” Well that’s milk then, isn’t it? Filter it as much as you like, it’s still milk.
Well, I’ve learned that rich people didn’t get to be rich people by being nice people.
For the past week or so, we’ve been treated to a procession of exceedingly well off people bemoaning how poor they’re going to be as a result of the necessary shutdown. And more importantly, trying to claim money from the government (and by this, I mean you and me).
It’s hard to know where to start with this lot, so I’ll crack off with Chief Executive of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley. When the instruction that shops had to shut came, with only those providing essential services staying open, Ashley tried to claim that the selling of plimsolls was essential so that people could stay fit and active. Never mind that most of his employees are on zero-contract hours and are too afraid to go to the toilet.
Popular backlash and Government intervention saw Ashley soon back down and close his stores.
Mike Ashley is currently estimated to be worth just shy of £5 BILLION.
And then there’s Richard Branson, who, now he’s not suing the NHS, has decided that his airline needs a Government bail-out.
Richard Branson is currently estimated to be worth just shy of £3.8 BILLION.
And then there’s Tim Martin, the Chairman of the Wetherspoons chainof pubs. He decided he’d release this video to show what a caring boss he is:
Yup. Go get a job at Tesco’s because I’m not going to pay you is his message.
JUST PAY THEM YOU GREEDY SHITS.
When this is all done, and we can go out again, remember these people. Let’s never again darken the doorstep of a Wetherspoons, or a Sports Direct shop, or anything Branson touches.
And then the news I had expected, but had hoped I’d never read. Daniel Levy, Chairman of my beloved Tottenham Hotspur, who was paid £4 million plus £3million in bonuses in the 2018-19 season, announced that the club would be reducing the wages of their 550 non-football staff by 20%, in some cases by placing them on furlough. (It should be noted they were not alone in this move: Newcastle United -owned by one Mike Ashley – had done the same.)
“We may be the eighth largest club in the world by revenue according to the Deloitte survey,” said Levy, “but all that historical data is totally irrelevant as this virus has no boundaries.”
No boundaries that you’ll allow to come anywhere near you wallet.
Can I make a suggestion for when we run out of food?
Motörhead – Eat The Rich
That’ll do you. (And I haven’t even mentioned how inept our Government has been in dealing with all of this – but you know that already, right?)
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:
Before we get going a disclaimer: if I seem a little distracted tonight, it’s because I’m trying to accomplish that task that so many (men) find difficult – multi-tasking. For tonight, whilst writing this, I am also watching Spurs in the Champions League. So, if my demeanour takes a turn for the worst towards the end, you’ll know why. (As you can see, I’m full of optimism….).
So, to business: last week I left you with “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and asked for your suggestions for songs to link to it, and, as usual, you’ve not let me down with the standard of suggestion or level of link.
As is often the case, the majority of the suggestions fell into the same categories, and this time there were four
Links to the names of members of the bands
Links to the word “Animal(s)”
Links to the word “House”
Links to…erm…the oldest profession in the world.
There are a few others which we’ll sprinkle liberally throughout the post too.
Band Members Names
Now, you’ll remember that the reason we’re looking at “The House of the Rising Sun” was because one of the members of the band was Chas Chandler, who went on to manage Jimi Hendrix, the subject of last week’s post, so it only seems right that we start with a Chas related record.
Also, there wasn’t that much in the way of cheese last week; this redresses that immediately.
Over to you, Charity Chic (who is going to be annoyed that I have already started one sentence with the word “So”):
“Let’s get the cheesy one out the way at the start – Chas ‘n’ Dave with Snooker Loopy”:
“John Steel of The Animals met Alan Price in Byker. Byker Grove was a TV programme that gave us Ant and Dec…but we’ve already had Ant and Dec….I’ll start again…”
And have a word with yourself while you’re at it, George. It was PJ and Duncan we previously featured, and as we all know, they were completely different to Ant and Dec. One of them had been tragically blinded in a bizarre paintballing accident, for a start. (“Bizarre Paintballing Accident” sounds like a suggestion from a random “New Order/Half Man Half Biscuit/Elvis Costello” title generator, doesn’t it? Actually, thinking about it, that joke works just as well with the words “New Order” and “Elvis Costello” removed from it.)
Time for my first suggestion of the week. Alan Price appeared in, and composed the music for, “O Lucky Man!”, a 1973 film directed by Lindsay Anderson. Five years earlier, Anderson released arguably his most iconic film, “if….” which is also the name of a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling, but is also the name of a single culminates in a glorious sing-a-long, probably my favourite song by The Bluetones, who make their hat-trick appearance here on The Chain.
Last one for our linking band members names, and here’s The Beard:
“Alan Price had success after leaving The Animals with Simon Smith and The Amazing Dancing Bear which was also covered by The Muppets on their debut album.”
It was, and I very nearly posted their version (it’s by Scooter, which would have led to a lot of very disappointed fans of the German dance band accidentally stumbling across this place), but the Muppets will be making an appearance later, so we’ll pass on that.
Besides, I don’t think that’s the record our Bearded Buddy was looking to nominate, as he continues:
“Animal was, of course, the drum bashing Muppet. A similar sounding drummer is Philthy Animal Taylor from Motörhead. Their single No Class is in fact pure class.“
Which leads us rather nicely onto the next category, but before we go there: we’ve all seen over the years boy bands exploit their innocent fan base by releasing a single which featured a different member of the band on the cover? Well, who knew that such acts weren’t just restricted to the teen market….?:
Time to sprinkle a little uncategorisable magic dust. And some more shameless nicking of ideas.
I’ll let The Great Gog, who suggested it, take over:
“The Animals also recorded We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, which was covered by (lovable?) 90s Scousers, Space. A couple of decades earlier, a French band of the same name came to our attention with the then futuristic-sounding Magic Fly.”
Take a look at that sleeve. Remind you of anyone? Seems a little bit daft, a little bit punk to me. And there was me thinking Daft Punk were ground-breaking, and it turns out they’re just rehashing ideas from their fellow countrymen from the 1970s. Luckily, very few of the UK’s current pop stars follow suit, or most of them would be in prison. Maybe that should be unluckily…
By the way, that suggestion continues a trend which I’ve encountered a couple of times since I started hosting The Chain, and which Alyson identified following my Halloween night post, a condition known as “Oh so that’s what that record’s called”. (see also “House of the King” by Focus and another one that I’ve forgotten already.)
Speaking of Focus, that hasn’t been an issue for me so far, it’s 0-0 at half time, in case you’re interested.
Last one before we start looking at the sings in the Animal(s) category, and here’s The Robster from Is This The Life?:
“Japan is known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Melt-Banana is a Japanese band who have quite a few songs that mention animals. They once released a compilation called 13 Hedgehogs which included tracks called Iguana In Trouble, Turtle vs. Bunny (Who One?) and Pig To Dog. But I’m going for the fabulously-titled Bird-Like Monkey in Cave, Singing in Drops, basically because it’s the only one of the above that breaches the 2-minute mark. (There’s also Bird-Like Monky Part 2 on the same album if you prefer – it’s just seven seconds long and for that reason might be a little more bearable for those with tender ears…)”
Regular readers will know I love Japanese bands like Shonen Knife and Puffy AmiYumi, who have a knack of stumbling across the odd cracking tune every now and then. So when The Robster suggested this lot, who I’d never heard of before, I was positively moist with anticipation:
Let’s move on to some Animal based fun. Not that kind of fun. Purely aural fun. Not that kind of aural fun either, you mucky lot.
You’ll remember that last week I had to disqualify one suggestion because, well, as far as I could establish, it was wrong. I was disappointed, as the link led to one of my favourite cover versions. I’m delighted to report that Swiss Adam from Bagging Area has taken up the challenge:
“The Animals are named after our four legged friends. On the cover of The Rockingbirds’ ‘Gradually Learning’ 12″ single the guitarist (who also plays with Edwyn Collins) is riding a horse (which is of course an animal). The Rockingbirds covered Right Said Fred’s Deeply Dippy….”
“Eric Burdon always looked grumpy whenever I saw him perform or in photographs. Decided it was maybe because he was also moonlighting as an ironmonger (the jackets in the HOTSR cover are just like those worn in our local shop when I was a youngster). Whenever your dad asked them for anything in the shop it was never on a shelf and they always had to go upstairs to the storeroom for it. Led me to thinking of Upstairs at Eric’s by Yazoo and I think my favourite from that album was Don’t Go.”
For our American readers, that’s Yazz to you, which must have been very confusing when the other Yazz and her Plastic Population appeared a few years later.
Hold up, The Robster’s back, and he’s only going to suggest something else by Melt-Banana….:
“I’ve reassessed my choice of Melt-Banana track and thought maybe we should have something that vaguely resembles a song. Which led me to another compilation the band released called Return Of 13 Hedgehogs. It contained their cover of Toots & The Maytals’ ‘Monkey Man’. Certainly a mite more tuneful than ‘Bird-Like Monkey…’”
Remember earlier when I said I liked Shonen Knife and Puffy AmiYumi, who have a knack of stumbling across the odd cracking tune every now and then? Well it turns out that Melt-Banana do too, it’s just they’ve stumbled over one that isn’t one of their own:
It’s funny how the menfolk who make suggestions here tend to feign ignorance when it comes to “being told” what kind of house is being described in The House of the Rising Sun. Take Dirk for example:
“Alright, apparently [see? – Ed] said house in the song really seems to be a brothel, a bagnio, a bordello, or, if you’d rather, a whorehouse. And this reminds me of Wreckless Eric’s ‘Semaphore Signals’. “Why’s this?”, you might be asking yourself – and quite rightly so! The truth of the matter is that for years and years I misheard the lyrics of ‘Semaphore Signals’ a little bit (blame it on my poor English, but hey – could you Englanders sing along to all of Tocotronic’s fantastic debut album? Nah, I bet your German is not good enough, right? I can though!). Either way, it was an embarrassing moment when I finally found out, albeit 15 years or so too late, that Eric says in the chorus “Messages of love down to her house” and not “Messages of love from the whorehouse”.
Still, he should have done. Perhaps. ‘Cos, whenever the tune comes up in the car when I’m on me way to work in the morning these days, I have a picture in my brain of half naked hookers waving little flags … and it always brings a stupid grin to my face!
P.S.: the Peel-Session version is marginally better than the album version.”
Mental note to self: stay off of the autobahn in the morning.
Here’s the Peel Session version, complete with a sleeve where Wreckless Eric’s name has inexplicably been mis-spelt (it’s entirely possible it’s a different Wreckless Erik, but there’s can’t be two, can there?):
“The fact that in this house the oldest profession was practiced it leads me to two songs about prostitution.” There. He’s said it. “First was Blondie’s X-Offender where she first played with her sexual attitude in front of the band.”
“The other one is ‘Killer Queen’ by Queen. Mercury made no bones about the song’s meaning, explaining, ‘It’s about a high class call girl. I’m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That’s what the song is about, though I’d prefer people to put their interpretation on it’.”
We don’t really need to bother, now you’ve told us, do we Freddie?
Elvis Costello – Love For Sale (or the Nina Simone version, if you prefer). Cole Porter rules.”
Now. I have looked everywhere for a copy of Nina Simone performing “Love for Sale”. I can’t find it, or any reference it. But rather than disqualifying a suggestion for the second week running, and in the unlikely event that you may have just got them mixed up somehow, you can have Billie Holliday’s version instead:
Which just about wraps it up for the prostitution related songs, except, well just in case you don’t get the Sting reference, I found this when I was trying to track down the Nina Simone version of Love for Sale:
Now, I have no idea who Idina Menzel is, or rather I didn’t until I decided to add her to this post. She’s an actress, best know for appearing in “Glee” and more recently for being Queen Elsa in “Frozen” which apparently means it is her that sings that “Let it Go” song which seems to get referenced everywhere these days, but which I’ve never heard, nor do I ever want to, thanks very much.
Anyway, the reason I’ve included her version is for the audience reaction, which at the start of “Love for Sale”, a Cole Porter composition, is absolutely nothing, before a smattering of applause and whooping (it’s recorded in America) welcomes the second line of “Roxanne”, like the crowd have been stirred from their slumber by something they kinda recognise.
Oh, wait. I have one more song from this theme. As regular readers know, I love this band, particularly their early stuff, and this is a song which is right up there amongst my favourite ever tunes by them. Wikipedia says the song “concerns a young man’s encounter with a prostitute”, which explains why they called it “Mystery Song”. Although “Song Concerning a Young Man’s Encounter with a Prostitute” would have been a great title too, should Colorblind James Experience ever decide to cover it.
Anyway, put simply, this rocks, it rocks more than anything else on this page. So there.
Incidentally, there’s a vaguely amusing story behind that song. That came out in 1976, when the band were at the height of their fame, and also well on the road to the drug addiction which made lead singer Francis Rossi’s septum fall out. When they were in the studio working on their “Blue For You” album, Rossi laced Rick Parfitt’s cup of tea with “an inordinate amount” of speed, not expecting him to drink it. You can work out how the rest of the story goes: he drank the lot, oblivious to the contents, began playing this riff and continued to do so until the rest of them left the studio, leaving him in there all night. On their return the following day, he was still sitting in the same place, playing the same riff, some twelve hours later. “I just couldn’t go wrong,” Parfitt recalls, “everywhere my fingers went on the fretboard it sounded fantastic.” Drugs, see kids. Don’t do them. Especially speed. Anyone who has read my article about what happened at Glastonbury the year I found a bag of the stuff will know I know exactly what I’m talking about.
Okay we’re on the home straight now, just some more sprinkles of magic dust to go, and to start off this final section, can we all give a very warm Chain Gang welcome to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense (and anyone with a picture of Rigsby as their avatar is alright by me):
“Approaching his 50th Birthday, John Otway asked his fans for a second hit single to follow 1977s “Really Free”. The chosen track – Bunsen Burner – nicked the music from Disco Inferno, and Otway fashioned a lyric after helping with his daughters chemistry homework. The link to House Of The Rising Sun? HOTRS was the B-Side (or second track on CD single) – the track featured 900 fans (all credited on the record sleeve) in a glorious ‘call and response'”
“Can I have another go, please? Ta. Be warned, this one is more than a little convoluted…”
Excellent. The Beard’s links are becoming my favourite links here each week, if not for the songs, then the reason he gives. As close to Comment Showboating as anyone has managed this week (apart from my quite brilliant even if I do say so myself link to The Bluetones). Time for the rest of you to up your game, I think.
“The Rising Sun is a pub on Beverley Road in Hull. Grafton Street is a thoroughfare, one end of which comes out on Beverley Road. Down Grafton Street is The Grafton, the pub where the video for Happy Hour by The Housemartins was filmed. Phill Jupitus appears in the video. He was also a captain on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Howard Devoto left Buzzcocks to form Magazine. A Song From Under The Floorboards by Magazine is fanruddytastic.”
And that would be that, had The Beard’s suggestion not prompted a couple of further ideas from Rol, which I’ll allow, as they’re the next step on a couple of references The Beard makes. Plus, Rol is as brief as brief can be (although, just to be contrary, I’m posting them in the different order to suggested, just because his first suggestion sounds more like an end of the show track than his second to me):
I think I’d better start off this post by declaring that I am not drunk. Whether that is still the case by the time I finish it is questionable.
The reason I feel the need to declare this is because I’m probably going to end up writing some things which are likely to come across as the kind of slurry “You’re my best mate, you are” things you’d only really expect someone four or five sheets to the wind to say.
There you go, that’s the disclaimer out of the way.
You may have noticed recently there has been a lot of Birthday talk on these here pages. A lot of people I know seem to have birthdays around September and October, and I suppose if you think about it logically, at the time of year when we were all conceived it would have been the winter months, dark and cold, and perhaps our parents were huddling together under what used to be called a Continental Quilt when…well, you know…one thing led to another and here we are. (Note to self: I may need to rewrite that bit, it sounds like all my friends’ parents were under the same duvet, which they weren’t, obviously)
Anyway, the thing about birthdays is that on at least one of yours, or perhaps on another totally inappropriate moment – on the school bus, say – you will find yourself suddenly considering the most awful of truths: your parents did “it”.
My brother and I are lucky in that respect. I should explain. My parents got married on 22nd October 1966. My brother was born on 29th July 1967 – near enough nine months to the day after the honeymoon, which I think it’s safe to assume went well. (This has also just reminded me I forgot to remind my Dad about their anniversary, my traditional job. Ooops!)
Similarly, I was born on 26th September 1969, almost nine months to the day after Christmas Day, so it’s safe to say the petrol station was closed, or my Dad just forgot to get my Mum a Christmas present, and had to make it up to her in…er…different ways.
So there we have it. They only did “it” twice. Ever.
I’m not really sure why I’m mentioning all of this, except as a preamble into wishing my former housemate and equal best mate Hel a happy birthday, in something approaching a creative way.
A couple of weeks ago, we were out having a few drinks and Hel pointed out that we had been friends for 16 years. Jesus, really? (You’re expecting an “it seems longer” gag here, right? Well jog on, you’re not going to get it. Because it really doesn’t seem that long. And of course by referencing said joke, I have managed to make it, whist simultaneously denouncing it. Oh yes! I am finally revealing myself to be the very epitome of a hitherto concealed post-modern self-deconstructing blogger!)
Anyway, it seems just weeks since we first met, upstairs in what was The Tut ‘n’ Shive on City Road in Cardiff (although she will probably tell me I’m wrong and we met much earlier than that). She was with her brother Llyr, also mentioned often in these pages, who would soon become my flatmate, but more of him another time.
Hel was wearing a Motorhead t-shirt, which I thought was pretty cool. This was before band t-shirts such as this became fashion accessories worn by needy people who had no clue about any record ever made by the bands whose logos graced their t-shirts (see also Ramones).
As an aside, I have two band t-shirt stories to tell.
Firstly I was at a house party once, and there was a guy there wearing one of these:
You and I know this is a Primal Scream “Screamadelica” t-shirt. But the guy wearing it? No-siree-bob.
“Nice tee shirt” I called across the room to him.
“Thank you” he beamed in response.
“Great album too!” I suggested.
“It is an album?” he replied, genuinely confused. “I just liked the picture!”
Second, I was wearing a PJ Harvey tee shirt at work once, one promoting “50 Foot Queenie” from her “Rid of Me” album. It looked like this:
I was wearing it ironically, since it has the words “Hey I’m One Big Queenie” emblazoned on it.
Certain folks in my office had never seen the likes. A very attractive girl approached me at the photocopiers.
Her: “I like your tee shirt”
Me: (nonchalantly) “Oh, thanks”
Her: “Who’s the picture of?”
Me: (disinterestedly) “PJ Harvey”
Her: “Who’s that?”
Me: “A really cool singer/songwriter. You’d like her.”
Her: “Oh? What does she sing? What do you recommend?”
My brain: “Sorry mate, I got nothing. I mean, I could have a rummage round some of these boxes of the usual shit you’ve got stored up here and try and dig out some of her songs so you don’t look like a dick, but I don’t think I can be arsed right now.”
Me: “Um….er….ahhh…hahaha…would you believe it…my mind has gone totally blank…..”
Tune in soon for the next instalment of “I am rubbish at talking to girls”
But anyway, I digress.
I asked Hel what her favourite Motorhead record was. Her reply: “It’s actually a thing they did with Girlschool…”
I looked at her in some amazement.
“Please Don’t Touch?” I said.
“Yes!!” she replied, mouth and eyes agog that someone else knew that record.
We got talking and somehow got onto the topic of Smash Hits magazine. The more astute of you will have spotted the more-than-occasional homage to their way of writing around these parts. We enquired about each others favourite fact gleaned from those glossy pages. Number one on both of our lists was: “Mark King of Level 42 has insured his thumb for a million pounds!!” Truly I had found a kindred spirit. A Liverpool fan, but you can’t have everything, right?
If further proof were needed, we both love this record, the UK’s Eurovision entry the year after Bucks Fizz:
If I had a pound for every time we had drunkenly attempted to do the dance routine I’d be a very rich man by now.
We’ve spent many a happy night ratted together, me and Hel. There was the time we stayed up all night pissed, and I sent her out to buy another bottle of vodka at 9am, after which we decided it would be a really good idea to watch Jimmy McGovern’s death drama “Hillsborough” (the clue’s in the title as to how happy it’s going to be), spending the next few hours hugging each other and bawling our eyes out.
And then there was the time of the great argument about radishes.
Suffice it to say that on many of the stories I will tell over the forthcoming posts, Hel has been at my side, my wing-girl, a reciprocal deal, I hope. There’s so many stories I could, and probably will, tell you about times we’ve spent together, things we’ve done. For now, I’ll just give you a couple.
Firstly, as a measure of the woman, when I first was moving to London 7 years ago, I gave her a ring to see if she knew of anywhere I could find some digs.
“There’s a spare room in my place,” she said.
“Really? Great! Can I have it….?”
“It depends. Have you got the following things: 1) a DVD player 2) a pepper grinder, and 3) friends who are male models?”
I had the first two, but not the third.
“Meh. We can work on that. Move in when you like”.
And on the day I moved in, instead of unpacking and then letting me get an early night before my first day in a new job, she proceeded to take me on a tour of all the local pubs and get me proper hammered.
More recently, we’ve started DJ’ing together. Usually when you DJ with someone, you have an agreed spell “solo” on the decks, say half an hour on, half an hour off, but I have a need to know what’s coming next, in being prepared and lining the next one up (reasons will become clear in subsequent posts, and yes, those that know it, I am going to tell that story eventually), and she totally buys into this. As a result, Hel and I seem to have such a blast DJ’ing together we spend the whole night conferring about a running order, concurring about what the next record will be, and then the next and the next, with an implicit agreement that if you suggested the next record up, you mix it in. It’s a truly democratic process.
Our most prestigious gig was about a year ago, a private function in London’s swanky Groucho Club (we’ve never been invited back, but we were invited to “turn it down please” on the night.)
Beforehand, Hel had told me she was desperate to play Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. I wasn’t particularly happy, but had decided I could counter it by deciding what to play either side. The next three records were the sequenced result:
Okay okay, I’ve been back for almost two weeks, I know, I know!
I had intended to carry on the Glasto posts in order, culminating in a review of this years shenanigans, but since the over-riding theme of the last three posts seems to be “I got off my face,I don’t remember anything”, I figured we’d pop the outstanding two in the back pocket for next year, and I’d tell you about this year instead. And then we can get back to something approaching normality round here. Deal?
There’s a second reason for this: 2015 was my first drug-free (except alcohol and nicotine) Glastonbury. Drink those words in. I did a whole Glastonbury without dabbling in any of the off menu items. Fuck you and your preordained reactionary opinions, Daily Mail readers!
Which means – I can remember what I did!! This is breaking new ground for this blog – knowing what I’m talking about. As a result, I have quite a lot to tell you, clips and mp3s to share, so I’ll split this into three posts: (up to) Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That’s the correct order, right?
Glastonbury opens its gates at 8.30 am (I think…shit, I’m already on shaky ground…) on the Wednesday morning before the festival officially starts.
Over the years that I’ve been going, and I make no claim to be a crusty dread-locked “been jumping over the fence for eons, mate” type, every year we’ve got there a little bit earlier. The last time I went was in 2010, and this involved a drive to the site early on the Wednesday morning, all rather leisurely, a country compilation CD blaring in the car, getting me in the mood, and no problems with finding a space to pitch our tents.
This year, we arrived on site at 01:30 hours on the Wednesday morning, to be greeted by the sight of an almighty queue, the prospect of joining it, and basically sleeping rough in a field for the night.
And so it was. We met up with the rest of the gang we were going in with – folks I’d never met before, but Llyr (Alun) had spent Glasto 2014 with, so I was happy to take his recommendation of camp-mates. Say what you like about him, but he can spot a wrong-un. And this lot quite swiftly showed that they were sound. A quick roll-call: hello Chad, Andy, Sam, Louise, Andrew, Cara, Dean, Lisa, Gemma and Emily. (Emily wasn’t with us yet – more of her in a bit). I think that’s everyone….kick me in the knees and call me a tool if I missed anyone.
Some of this motley crew were getting a few minutes much needed shut-eye in the van, while Llyr, Chad, Andy, Andrew and I stood outside, chatting. Every now again one of us would say “We may as well be standing in the queue as standing here, shall we make a move?”, to which the rest of us would shrug and agree we should maybe think about moving in a minute.
Ladies: this is why men should not rule the world. Rubbish decision makers.
Two hours later, we were still there, before finally we rallied the troops, got all our gear together and headed off to join the queue. By the time we met it, it was snaking down from Gate D, across and down one car park/field, back up the next, along the top and to us. Five minutes later, the length of the field we were in had been added to the ever-growing line.
And there we stood until around 6am, when suddenly we were on the move. They’ve realised, we thought, just how many have turned up and decided to let us in early. Otherwise, it’s a health and safety nightmare.
But no. We shuffled forwards about 100 yards before coming to rest again, and so the pattern was set for the next couple of hours.
Finally Gate D opened. By this time two things had happened: firstly, I had decided every one who wasn’t in our little party was an utterly irritating cunt, either too young and nubile (Pull your fucking jeans up so I can’t see your pants!!), or too old and fat (Just….stop being an annoying twat!!) to be safely allowed in my vicinity; and secondly, we had got to the part of the entrance which had been set up like a queue in the post office, a zig-zag affair, with a set of ropes guiding us in the correct directional flow.
Wait, ropes you say? The sort of ropes that can be ducked under? Well fuck queuing then, said the amassed throng (but quietly under their breath, more of a liberal murmer, a Guardian uprising, if you will) before launching headlong into an every man (and woman) for him (and her) self scrum for the gate.(I appear to have gone all “Life of Brian“….)
We made it in, through the throngs and to our pitch site. An hour or so later, we were all erect (insert Carry On “Oooh Matron!” Kenneth Williams type gag here).
Here’s the view from my tent…at 10.30am on the Wednesday
Pretty full, isn’t it?
Tent up, I proceeded to try and grab 40 winks – a recurring theme throughout the weekend. I think drugless Glasto Me turns into Bagpuss. Anyway, I fell asleep, legs sticking out of my tent, the burns from which I’m still coping with.
When I came round, I found we had been joined by one other happy camper: Emily. Emily embodies braveness and technology to me. She had posted on Twitter that she was a single female, attending Glastonbury on her own, looking for some decent types to camp with, and Chad had replied, telling her she could join us. The poor girl must have been deluged by weird offers, but she chose Chad/us.
I can’t put into words how amazingly brave I think that is. I would never have a) thought to do it in the first place, and b) having received umpteen messages, made a sound choice about who to camp with. I probably would have given up on the whole human race and just lived in a ditch for the rest of my days.
There was no need to worry. Our new camp mates were an unbelievably sound bunch. The next few days were punctuated by a barbeque in the evening, and a cooked breakfast in the morning, all done in the clearing between our tents. I felt bad, having not brought any food to contribute to this British BBQ-Off (It’s only a matter of time before one of the main channels commissions it), but our hosts were having none of it, thrusting burger after bacon and egg sandwich after sausage in my face until I succumbed and ate something they had prepared. And damned fine it was too.
That night, after a barbecue and the first of oh-so-many samples of Andy’s home made vodka tipples (After Eight Vodka? He had it. And a salty caramel one. And a fruity one. The man is a vodka alchemist) we went for the first of many wanders, taking in the Park Field at sun-down:
(Beautiful, ain’t it?) before ending up at the Stone Circle to witness what until now I had only heard about but never seen: the burning of a straw effigy (owl? Phoenix? life-size depiction of George Osborne? Who knows!) and a neat firework display. Glastonbury 2015 was on.
Friday morning. (Thursday was a day of mooching, drinking and eating). Things were due to kick off on The Other Stage with some Special Guests, supposedly a mystery….but then this got tweeted by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans :
with a caption: “Guest Who?”. It may have escaped our attention, had it not been subsequently retweeted by the official Glastonbury Twitter feed with the added: “Tim Burgess is rubbish at keeping secrets”.
The Charlatans are one of those bands very dear to my heart, and this was to be the perfect Glasto opener – practically a Greatest Hits set from them. Sadly, much internet trawling (and…er…distraction…) has failed to find much in the way of sound or video clips of their rather wonderful set, other than this, someone’s hand-held footage of “One to Another”. Under grey skies, The Charlies got us all up and going, their set culminating in a typically wonderful “Sproston Green”. Don’t they get bored of ending with that every time, belter that it is?
Next up was me making the first of many bad decisions about who to see next. What I should have done was scuttle over to the Park Stage to see King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (saw them at the Scala on Thursday, and I’m happy to report it was fucking mental!). Go see ’em, kids.
What I actually did was stay exactly where I was to watch The Cribs, in the vain hope that, having been a member of the band between 2008 – 2011, Johnny Marr might make an appearance, despite the obvious logistical issues involved with the fact he was playing in Hyde Park later that day. He didn’t but they did play We Share The Same Skies (punter audio again, I’m afraid, hence the appearance of what seems to be a wobble board, We definitely locked him up now, didn’t we?).
Next it was an upping of sticks to the Pyramid Stage to catch Alabama Shakes. Although with all the shenanigans with Foo Fighters having to pull out, a new act being added, and the consequent jigging about of schedules, we caught rather more of James Bay‘s set than I would have liked. Dull is too kind a word. I’d rather listen to the BBC Glastonbury i-dent music on repeat than sit through that schmozz again. Although I do appear to have just made up a new word: Schmozz pronoun, def: the sound of James Bay.
(On that note: can I just interject for a moment to apologise for some of the downloads featuring the BBC music sound-bite at the start? Most of them were ripped from their website, and to have edited them out…well,bear in mind it’s taken me 2 weeks to get this far, and you can imagine how long it would have been had I also attempted to lop that off the start of every clip too. Deal with it. Either edit them yourself or just cover your ears for 5 seconds)
And so to Alabama Shakes, who, greeted by the first rain of the weekend, provide us with a howling blues-centric set which, to my recollection, doesn’t feature Hold On, a tune I love to if not death, then certainly to a defibrillator and a resuscitation unit.
Next up, Mary J Blige. And more rain. Now I’m not a massive fan of either Mary J or the whole R&B sound as a whole, but blimey she was good. Here’s Doubt but I’d advise you to pop to the BBC Glastonbury website to see if they have her extraordinary performance of “No More Drama” there. I dunno if they do or not, I’m too busy typing to check.So dramatic was “No More Drama”, it seemed like an obvious show-stopper, I nipped to the Gents, and missed her doing Family Affair, the one song by her I truly adore. So, just for me, here it is. Probably with an annoying advert.
Now, Motorhead, and I am wet, and not in a sexy way. Warty leather clad octogenarians rarely have that sort of effect on me. Any more. Anyway, it’s Motorhead, what do you need to know about them? Here’s the one song we all know: Ace of Spades They do not usher on Girlschool to thrash through “Please Don’t Touch” and the world is a poorer place for it.
Next: baited breath. An unexpected extra act. Well, not extra, exactly, given the Grohl broken leg situation there was a massive hole to fill (and I don’t mean in Dave’s fibia). The Pyramid Stage DJ teases with us, playing Blur records and then Pulp’s “Common People” from 1995 (when they stood in for the damaged Stone Roses) before the additional band is revealed as….oh. It’s The Libertines. Are they still a thing?
I like four songs by The Libertines. They play three of them. Here’s one of them: Don’t Look Back Into The Sun NB I only like that as when I first heard it, the play-out sounded to me like the most obvious Wedding Present record that isn’t actually by The Wedding Present. It’s “Kennedy“, right? (Blatantly, I just want to listen to Kennedy). I hope Dave Gedge is getting royalties from it, s’all. (But not from me).
Somehow, we endured their whole set, before heading back to the tents to replenish booze supplies ready for our choice of headliner for the Friday.
What should have happened instead of The Libertines was Florence & The Machine, and then Foo Fighters. Whilst I’m obviously disappointed the Foos didn’t make an appearance, it did make my decision about who to watch as Friday night headliner slightly easier. When I saw the listing, I was gutted: Foos, Hot Chip, Super Furry Animals, and Billy Bragg all playing at the same was a real headache, a four-horse race unexpectedly narrowed down to three.
Of course, Super Furry Animals won. But as a panacea, here’s Billy Bragg & Frank Turner doing Levi Stubb’s Tears in the BBC tree-hut bit. Still gorgeous, after all these years. And Frank’s not looking too shoddy either.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen SFA over the years; having lived in Cardiff for 20 years we’re definitely into the twenties, and amongst all of those I treasure the most recent at Brixton Acadamy as the greatest (2nd place goes to seeing them playing in Brecon, having been evicted from the Jazz festival for being linked to drugs, like no jazz performers ever have been) – so tonight was always going to be a tough one to overhaul that.
They don’t manage it, in my opinion, stuck right at the back and unable to really see them as I was. But that’s not to say they weren’t utterly amazing: a below-par SFA gig is still a gig I’d crawl naked over a trail of broken glass, upturned drawing pins and something else quite ouchy, to get to. And Llyr and I have a thing we do when Slow Life kicks backs in again, a pretend drum fill, and it’s the first chance we’ve had to do it together for almost 10 years, so that was pretty special for me.
Anyway, here’s their full set, and apologies for the sound quality on Slow Life, for Do or Die ending more abruptly than it’s meant to, and for the occasional BBC I-dent soundclip:
One final thing, as I bang on about live music: this weekend is the 30th anniversary of Live Aid. Fuck, that makes me feel old. Anyway, for a really nice piece on it, and some rather fine free downloads snaffled from the big day, pop over to Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. You won’t be disappointed.