Touching You, Touching Me


I promised myself I wasn’t going to write about the coronavirus – it’s bloody everywhere, literally, at the moment – but since my enjoyment of watching a repeat of Pointless was delayed on Thursday by Our Glorious Leader making a grand announcement asking two science experts to answer all the questions asked at a press conference on the very subject (remember when everyone was bored of experts? Not so bored now, are they?) I figured I may aswell chuck my two-penneth (soon to be post-Brexit currency) in the hat.

The past week has seen panic buying on a truly epic scale. Given the advice was to make sure you wash your hands for as long it takes to sing two verses of Happy Birthday (nobody has told me which Happy Birthday though: Stevie Wonder’s? Altered Images’?The Bluebells’….?), I wasn’t terribly suprised to visit my local ASDA the other day and find that there was not one bar of soap, bottle of liquid soap, or tube of anti-bacterial handwash out on the shelves, not even those crappy one-use travel size ones.

But this week has seen the sort of panic buying of toilet roll that makes you wonder if the coronavirus is sponsored by Andrex; I half expect to see a cute Labrador puppy wearing a face mask cough it’s way onto my TV screen at any moment.

Did I miss the announcement about the virus also causing stomach complaints? No, of course not; this is people preparing to “self-isolate”, a task I’ve been readying myself for for the majority of my adult life.

And that’s not all: a visit to the food aisles shows a similar problem – anything long life and non-perishable is being snaffled up by lunatics in advance of the end of days.

There’s a supermarket just around the corner from me, I go there every day to get my lunch. (A pasta salad and an apple juice, in case you’re interested). I always go to the self-service tills because, much as I object to their very existence, they serve the same purpose as the old “10 items or less” tills (which, I’m sure I’m not the only pedant who, whenever I saw one, would mutter “It’s fewer, not less” under my breath).

These particular tills are at right angles to the queue to use them, so the worst one to end up on is the first till, where everyone waiting is watching you and, if I’m honest, judging at the same time. And when I say ‘judging’, I don’t mean just what you’re buying (“Awww, look. He likes Jammie Dodgers, blesss him”), but your self-service till skills. I have lost count of the amount of times I have found myself screaming in my head “WHY AREN’T YOU PACKING AS YOU’RE GOING????”

The other day, I got to the front of the queue, with my two items, and watched the lady at the first till as she scanned nine packets of spaghetti (which explains why I had to settle for lunguini – fatter, less value for money – the other day), ten tins of tinned fish, and fourteen tins of baked beans, amongst a whole load of other multiple items.

Actually, if that’s what she plans to live off, the toilet roll panic is probably justified. “What’s for tea, Mum?” “Same as last night: fishy baked beans and pasta.”


And the thing about panic buying in this scenario is that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If you buy all of the soap and hand sanitiser, then that means that all of the people you’re going to come into contact with won’t have it, thus increasing your chances of getting it. Also: any afficionado of post-apocalyptic drama will know that after the first outbreak, the next people who die are the ones who have stockpiled, for they will be attacked by those who didn’t. I mean, have these people never seen The Walking Dead?

You know where I’m going for the first tune of the day, right?

The Smiths – Panic

(Hang the PM, Hang the PM, Hang the PM….)

Anyway, Boris seems to have remembered that being Prime Minister actually means that he has to do prime minister stuff, and so he decided to make a couple of appearances this week; firstly to ask everyone to stop panic buying, which worked, obviously, and then there was the televised live press conference, where he generally deferred to the two science experts either side of him.

I’m genuinely suprised he didn’t make them wear white lab coats to underline: these men know what they’re talking about.

And here’s what the Government plan was: we’re not going to do anything, because this is going to worse before it gets better, and if we implement changes now, everybody will be bored by the time the virus hits its peak and we have to ask them to do more.

So, there would be no travel bans, no bans of large meetings (although as I’m writing this, I see the Government’s position on this has changed), such as the Cheltenham Festival, no nothing.

In much the same way as the stock-piling British public showed absolutely no faith in Boris’ intended-to-be-calming words a few days earlier, the entire football heirarchy met and – in direct contravention to all that Boris and his boffins had announced the night before – decided to suspend all games until April 4th, at least. Personally – and sorry to any Liverpool fans – I’m hoping the whole season is declared null and void in the hope that might mean Mourinho is no longer Tottenham’s manager, but I’m clutching at straws there.

Oh, and by the way, if, like me, you pay extra to your TV provider to be able to watch Premier League, Champions League, Europa League or any football which they would normally broadcast, then you’ll be delighted to hear that both Sky and BT Sport have no plans to reimburse us for the cost of the football we pay them to no longer be able to watch. Bless ’em.

Anyway, Boris’ advice was this: we need to “take it on the chin”, that “things will get worse before they get better”, and that the virus needed to spread through the country so that we could develop immunity to it, although he accepted that meant that “a great many people” would die as a result (I couldn’t find the actual quote, so I’ve paraphrased that one).

This is all worth mentioning because the Government’s actions are almost directly opposite to those being taken by pretty much every other nation, who are almost entirely in lockdown now. Even America, who only days ago had Trump declaring the virus was “fake news” – he’s nothing if not predictable – yesterday declared a national emergency (or, as Trump described it, “two big words”, like he was particularly proud of having known them, like a child who has just managed to use their potty properly for the first time and done two big boy brown ones).

This, in essence, is Boris’ tactic for dealing with the virus:

Mudhoney – Touch Me, I’m Sick

Fair play, I never had him down as a Mudhoney fan.

More soon.

(And I will kill you for a square of Cushelle.)

Sick, Sick, Sick

Back to hospital stuff now. Sorry to all that are squeamish.

My first night on the ward is hellish. For a start, it’s too hot. I can’t sleep. Nurse James gallantly tries to sort the air-con out and eventually it cools enough to allow me to sleep, a little.

The following morning I am able to assess my surroundings and my fellow detainees, who have also been responsible for keeping me awake for most of the night.

Opposite me is a man I have heard being told he can go home; he reacts badly to this news and refuses to go.

To my left is a chap who I never see; he is in for some rather unpleasant and invasive bowel cancer related surgery and he insists on keeping the curtain between us drawn. I have no objection to this. One less person to be irritated by.

Diagonally opposite is an Irish guy. He seems to have nothing wrong with him. He keeps getting up and wandering around. He is surrounded by a massive stockpile of drinks and chocolate which makes me think that he knows something I don’t and a No Deal scenario has already happened. I wonder why he is even here.

As the day progresses, the Irish guy attracts a large ensemble of friends and family. At one point he is taken away somewhere, and his entourage goes with him. I snooze, and wake to hear what sounds like a fight kicking off amongst them. This seems to have been fuelled by him being (saying he had been) told he can go home but the staff not being kept in the loop. He calls someone, and soon, he is gone. A calm settles over the ward.

James appears at my bedside.

“You’re moving,” he informs me.

“Awww, are we not to have another night of you fumbling with my genitals?” I ask.

Soon, I am being wheeled from my bay, into the service lift and up to a different floor. I’m deposited into a corner of a new ward; there is nobody to my left but opposite me is a chap clearly in some discomfort, next to him is a man who already looks dead but has a visitor sitting chatting to him as if he hasn’t noticed.

A male nurse comes over and introduces himself; he is Kenneth and it transpires that it’s his last night of service on this ward. Although it’s unspoken, it’s clear that he would really rather I was no bother to him. I have no issue with complying.


I feel a little bit of heartburn/acid reflux coming on. It’s something I get every now and then, and so I know how to treat it. I call Kenneth, and explain the problem, asking for a Rennie or some other antacid/milk of magnesia solution.

“I’ll ask the pharmacist,” is the response I get. Of course, I realise, before anything is administered, they have to seek approval. I lay back and wait.

But it gets worse. I call the nurse again and ask where we are with the antacid tablet. Kenneth tells me he has asked the pharmacist, and he will chase them up.

Five minutes later, and I’m suddenly aware that something is going to be coming up if I don’t get some medication quickly. I call the nurse again, and tell them I’m going to be sick if I don’t get something quickly. I’m provided with several cardboard recepticles to be sick into. Courteous to the very end, I oblige, vomiting into each one and setting each filled one on to my table, until I have no more to fill.

At which point, the projectile vomiting starts; I remember hitting one (already filled) cardboard tray, knocking it over, my sick spattering all over the floor and wall. It was quite spectacular.

The nursing team all rushed over to me, but by now it’s too late; I’m throwing up like Linda Blair in The Excorcist, jets of black liquid shooting wherever I point my face.

The nurses begin mopping up my expelled detritus, and a decision to move me to my own room is made. As my bed is wheeled from the ward I shout a “sorry if I disturbed you” apology to my ward-mates, whilst also trying to tell the nurses that I’m not normally this much bother, honest.

Obligatory tuneage:


Mudhoney – Touch Me I’m Sick


Queens of the Stone Age – Sick, Sick, Sick

Several hours later, the sickness subsides, and I realise that the palaver I’ve caused has inadvertently acted in my favour – I now have my own room, where I remain for the rest of my stay in hospital. Result!

More soon.

Which Reminds Me…

Late last night I posted a thing about Primal Scream, which mentioned “Loaded”, the first single to be lifted from their ground-breaking/seminal/pretty bloody spectacular album “Screamadelica”.

“Loaded”, of course starts with a sample of Peter Fonda, taken from Roger Corman’s 1966 biker movie “The Wild Angels” (released three years before the much better known “Easy Rider”, from which many mistakenly think the sample originates):

We wanna be free, we wanna be free to do what we wanna do
And we wanna get loaded and we wanna have a good time
And, that’s what we’re gonna do, (no way, baby, let’s go!)
We’re gonna have a good time, we’re gonna have a party,” Our Pete says on the sample.

Actually, if we’re being strictly accurate, what he actually says in the film is:

When Primal Scream released “Loaded” in 1990, many were surprised by the change in direction, by the use of samples, loops and other electro-trickery more often associated with dance music, and of course, we have the likes of Andrew Weatherall and Terry Farley to thank for this.

But The Scream weren’t the first band to use this sample.

Here, from 1988, is a band who you equally wouldn’t expect to be found using samples, let alone the very same one which resurfaced two years later. For here are Sub-Pop grunge godfathers Mudhoney:


Mudhoney – In ‘n’ Out Of Grace

And if that doesn’t wake you up on a grey Tuesday morning, nothing will.

More soon.

Mummy’s Brave Little Soldier

Hello. Been a bit quiet around here lately, hasn’t it?

Sorry about that, been a bit under the weather all week. I’ll not bore you with the details, but last weekend I got struck down by what some might call flu, others might rather disparagingly call Man Flu, but which I’m going to call a really heavy cold (mostly to neatly side-step any unkind messages advising me to man up).

I battled on with normal life, spending the last week alternating between sitting at my desk at work, coughing with a veracity and vibrato that knocks Storm Doris’ efforts into a cocked hat, and my bed, pausing only to quaff a Lemsip or a Hot Toddy or two along the way. Frankly, sitting down and writing stuff here fell off my list of priorities.

Anyway, although I’m still not feeling 100%, hopefully normal service – and yes, that includes The Chain – will now be resumed.

In the meantime, allow me to wheel out one of my catchphrases. These records seem appropriate:


Mudhoney – Touch Me, I’m Sick


The Smiths – Still Ill

(I’ve always loved the harmonica part on that version.)


Gene – Fighting Fit

More soon. No, really.