Port Out Starboard Home

A few months ago, I was contacted by the letting agents I rent my flat through. They were letting me know that the landlord had arranged for a contractor to visit my flat to do some works.

If you rent a property, and your landlord is on the ball, then you’ll know this kind of thing happens fairly regularly; boiler checks, smoke alarm checks, gas checks – my life is a constant flow of people interrupting me, more noticeable since I’ve been working from home, I suppose.

Anyway, time has faded my memory to the point where I can’t quite recall what this particular visit was about. But I was at home, I let them in to do whatever they had to do, after donning my Covid-compliant face mask, diver’s suit, hi-vis jacket, rubber gloves and gas-mask.

A couple of weeks later, another message, another contractor. This one was a cheery young lady, equipped with an A4 pad and one of those laser pens used to measure distances. She visited each of the four rooms in my flat, pointing her laser at the walls and studiously making notes as she went.

After she left, I emailed my letting agent. “Somebody has just been to measure the flat. Reading between the lines, is the landlord considering selling?”

“Yes,” came the reply, “but they’re only thinking about it at the moment. Don’t worry. Selling a property takes a long-time, and even if he does sell, then the new owner may want to keep you in place rather than look for new tenants. And if they do want you out, we have to give you six month’s notice. But we’re a long way off that happening.”

This did not sound good to me, and so I started considering my options. With working from home continuing for the foreseeable future, I could see no reason why I should remain in London, paying London prices for everything. I floated the idea of me moving out of London to management, who said they would have no objection, so long as I was able to visit the offices for a monthly team meeting, and/or can pop in and work in the office once or twice a month.

Best I start looking for somewhere commutable then, I thought, and it didn’t take me long to land on the cathedral city of Peterborough; about an hour’s train ride out of London, it has the added benefit of being the closest town to where I grew up, of still having one of my best friends living in it, and it being close enough to my parents and wider family to make it seem like I was more accessible, when really it made it no more likely that any of them would turn up unannounced and catch me slobbing out in front of the TV watching Police Interceptors! and eating pickled onion Monster Munch in my dressing gown.

So, Peterborough it is then:

The Long Blondes – Peterborough

Home to Peterborough United Football Club, nicknamed The POSH:

Lionel Jeffries – Posh!

But no rush, eh? Selling the property will take ages.

A week or two passed. Another message from the letting agent: “The landlord has agreed for some people to visit the property tomorrow. They are potential buyers, so please make sure the property is tidy and try to make them feel welcome.”

Quite why they thought I should be complicit in making myself homeless was beyond me. I was reminded of when Hel and I shared a flat, and a similar situation arose. But when potential buyers arrived, we would ensure both of us were in our nightwear and dressing gowns, laying on the settees looking hung-over (not that much of a chore, as it goes), and when the latest fresh-faced couple were escorted in, one of us would waive our hand in the direction of one corner of the room, where a dirty great crack lived (the one in the main bedroom was worse, literally so wide you could see the traffic light controlled junction outside through it), and say “Told you about the subsidence, have they?” The landlord soon removed it from the market, and presumably waited until we had both moved out before trying again.

I didn’t have time to point out the many flaws in my flat when these visitors came; they literally arrived, walked through the entire flat (one of them letting out a little laugh as they entered my bedroom), then turned around and walked out.

“What was so funny about my bedroom?” I asked, as I had spent a long time making it look as un-sex dungeony as I could.

“Nothing. Bye.” they replied, as they left. They can’t have been there for more than 2 minutes.

Well, they can’t have been impressed, I thought. No need to worry about them buying it.

Another couple of weeks passed. Another message from the letting agents. “Hi, just to let you know the property has now been sold. We will let you know what the new owner’s intentions are as soon as we know.”

Who on earth would buy a property this quickly, with no surveys done, particularly when the property has the history of subsidence that this place does? Frankly, I smelt a cash sale, with all the possible crimes that might involve, be it tax evasion, money laundering, the lot.

My question was answered a week or two later, when I was advised the new owners would be visiting the property the following day. The arrived mid-morning, and it was the same two men who had laughed at my bedroom previously, this time accompanied by their own person with an A4 notepad and a laser pen for measuring distances. They let him go around the flat, doing his stuff, whilst they stood in the living room, glaring at walls and the TV I was watching but mostly, it seemed, at me as I was watching the TV (Police Interceptors!, of course). It was probably the most awkward ten minutes of my life, and as regular readers will know, I’ve experienced a lot of awkward moments in my time.

They left, their verbal output this time expanded to “Cheers mate. See you again.”

It was around this point that I realised that at no point had the letting agents referred to the new owner as the new landlord. And let’s be honest, when they turn up and start measuring up after they’ve already purchased it, the signs for keeping me in situ were not looking good.

I contacted the letting agents. “They’re going to evict me, aren’t they?” I asked, not unreasonably. “They’ve told us that they have no plans to change anything,” was the less than reassuring reply, a bit like Harry Kane saying he’s decided not to leave Spurs “this summer”.

“Then why have they just been round and measured the flat up?”

“We have no idea. Perhaps they want to refurbish it for you.”

That sounds likely, doesn’t it, dear reader? Having just spent a few hundred thousand pounds on purchasing the flat, they’re bound to want to zhuzh it up for the current tenant – and pay for him to live elsewhere whilst they do it – as opposed to, say, kicking me out, doing it up and doubling the rent for the next poor sod who has to try and negotiate the perilous staircase into my flat.

Sure enough, shortly afterwards, a letter from the owner’s solicitors, serving me with a Section 21 Eviction Notice, telling me that ordinarily this meant they only have to give me one month’s notice, but due to Covid they were going to give me four months (phrased as if they were doing me a favour off their own back, rather than following the temporary rules imposed on them by the Government in a rare moment of clarity).

So, I have until mid-November to find somewhere new. And, I have learned when checking this post, that when the notice period ends, the landlord – because he’s not just the owner anymore, he’s trousering my rent so he’s my bloody landlord now whether he likes it or not – has another 4 months to apply to court. If they don’t start court action within this time, the section 21 notice expires. They then need to give me a new notice if they still want me to leave, and so we go round again.

Not that I particularly want to bank on them not applying to the Court the moment the 4 months is up. Nor would I want to rely on the fact that, due to years of neglect and under-funding coupled with Covid, the Court system has a monumental backlog of claims, complaints, disputes, criminal hearings and evictions to hear.

So I’m actively looking. In Peterborough. And to my delight, I have found that, for less than I currently pay every month to live in a pokey one-bedroom flat, too small to house a washing machine, with it’s death trap electric hob, and kitchen with no windows and no air flowing through it, coupled with a belatedly fitted smoke alarm that knows all of these things very, very well and reminds me every sodding time I make toast – for less than I pay for these luxuries, I can get a three bedroom house, with a garden, a utilities room….oh, my, get me out of here, I can’t wait.

On the Friday before the recent Bank Holiday weekend, I booked the day off work, and arranged to view five properties. On the way, I received a barrage of apologetic texts and emails, so that by the time I got to Peterborough, only one property was left. One had been let, potential tenants had paid holding fees on two of them (which, for the uninitiated, means that nobody else can have the property – they’d ‘bagsied’ it, in essence), and one had some mould discovered in it which needed to be addressed before viewing could happen.

My old mate Richie, who lives fairly locally, kindly agreed to drive me between properties. He accompanied me to view the one that was left. I’d already decided this place wasn’t for me the moment I walked into the kitchen and saw there was an electric hob, but Richie looked out of the rear bedroom window, surveyed the neighbouring properties, and said: “That side hasn’t cut their grass in years, and that side has a hot tub. Do not move in here. They’re sex people.”

I was due to return to Peterborough the following day, to see two more properties; soon that was down to one and then, the inevitable text: “Can we reschedule your viewing for this Wednesday at 4:30 please?” I decided it wasn’t the best plan in the world to refuse a request by someone I was hoping would find me somewhere to live, so I agreed.

Took more time off work, arrived at the property early on the Wednesday. And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

At 4:40, I rang their office, and politely enquired why I was at the property but they weren’t.

“We’ve got no viewings booked in the diary, I’m afraid,” was the reply.

I explained they had rearranged my appointment from Saturday, and gave them the name of the person who had acknowledged my agreement.

“He must have forgotten to out it in the diary.”

“Plainly.”

“Can we reschedule it?”

“No. We can’t. You asked me to be here now. I’ve taken time off work and travelled up from London to be here at the time you asked me to be here. Either I view this property today, or not at all.”

This is as close as I ever get to snapping. Friends will tell you I’m the most easy-going of blokes, although Hel will doubtless counter that with a story about how I lost my rag at Glastonbury 2004, with a friend who wanted to go and watch Muse on the Pyramid Stage, whilst all the rest of the group wanted to watch Orbital on The Other Stage, and who had not stopped whining about it all day.

“If you want to go and watch Muse, go and watch Muse,” I apparently said. “We are staying here to watch Orbital. So either shut up or fuck off.”

I was right, of course (even if it wasn’t the year Matt Smith appeared on stage with them):

But I digress.

“We’ll have someone there by 5:15.”

At 5:17, he arrived, poor thing. Clearly just told to get his arse over to me, didn’t have a clue about the property, or the area.

But it was alright, ticked all the boxes I needed, so I asked how we move things forwards.

“I’ll get somebody to call you tomorrow to go through all the details.”

The next day, I waited for the call.

And waited.

And waited.

On Friday, I emailed them: “Have you forgotten to call me, as well as forgetting to show me the property?”

On Saturday, three missed calls, all when I had fallen asleep on the sofa (whilst watching Police Interceptors! and eating pickled onion Monster Munch). I called back – office closed.

Ah well, I thought. They’ll probably call me on Monday.

So on Monday, I waited for the call.

And waited.

And waited.

On Tuesday, I rang them. “I’m beginning to think you don’t want anyone to move into this house,” I said. I knew the house was ready to move into immediately, and had wondered why it hadn’t already been snapped up. I was starting to draw my own conclusion as to how that had come about.

To be fair, the lady I spoke to this time was great, really helpful; she emailed me all the documents I need to sign, along with a list of what they need from me, and took a holding fee so nobody else could take the property before me, subject to me passing all the checks they have to do. Property bagsied.

That evening, I saw I had a missed call from them, about twenty minutes after we had last spoken. I called back: office closed.

On Wednesday, I called them again. “We have some bad news,” said the really helpful lady. “I notified the landlord yesterday that we thought we’ve found somebody to rent the house, he seemed really pleased, but then he rang back and said that the sale of the house was taking too long and he didn’t want to rent it anymore. I’m very sorry. I’ll reimburse the holding fee for you now.”

And so, today, if you’re reading this on Saturday, I’m travelling back to look at two other properties, one of which looks pretty amazing. Wish me luck!

But that’s not the end.

On Thursday, the nice helpful lady called me.

“Guess what?” she said.

“Go on…” I replied.

“The landlord came into the offices earlier, one of my colleagues spoke to him, and told him he was being very foolish not to rent the property out, and he’s changed his mind again! So, what would you like to do?”

I’d like to tell him to go fuck himself is what I’d like to do, I thought, but decided a more measured response was required.

“I can’t say he’s filling me with confidence. And what did you say the other day, about the sale of the house taking too long? I didn’t quite understand that….”

“Oh, he’s in the process of buying the property. We’re handling the purchase for him. The sale hasn’t gone through yet, but it will.”

Huh? How can you rent out a property you don’t own? And what happens if the sale doesn’t go through, and I’ve already moved in, where does that leave me? Getting evicted again, that’s where.

To misquote Oscar Wilde: To get evicted from one property may be regarded as a misfortune; to get evicted from two in a row makes it look like you’ve been smearing shit on the walls in some kind of dirty protest.

I’ve told them I’ll let them know after I’ve viewed the two properties today.

I bet you they’ll be calling me before I call them…

This, then, is for my current landlord, the one who blew me off (stop it at the back there!) and any others who might be just be acting in equally bastardly ways, along with any letting agents who haven’t got the balls to give a long-standing tenant a heads-up that his days are numbered:

Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Sheriff Fatman

At what point do you think I should I tell my current landlord that the subsidence cracks have started appearing again?

No, me neither.

More soon.

When The Clock Strikes

In all honesty, I’d intended to post something else by now, but my efforts have been somewhat hampered by me apparently losing the cable which connects my external hard drive (where 99.9% of my music is stored) to my laptop.

Correction: not apparently, actually.

So until the new one I have ordered has arrived (at which point, I will doubtless locate the missing one) I’ll just have to make do and track down the song(s) I wish to post.

Starting with tonight’s choices.

(I mention all of this purely so that you realise the lengths I’ve gone to so that I might post something tonight. I truly suffer for my art.)

Several years ago, when Hel and I shared a flat, we threw a New Year’s Eve party. I’ve written about this before, here, should you care to revisit it. For hopefully obvious reasons, I’ve not refreshed the mp3 links. (By the way, if ever you want me to do so, just leave a comment on the relevant page and I’ll sort it as soon as I am able to.)

Our living room had been transformed, with netting Christmas lights on every wall, flashing away to such an extent that one party pooper, at around 21:00, asked if I could stop them flashing as he was getting a headache. Oh yes, my friends know how to party alright.

All of the sofas had been pushed back to create a dancefloor, and I’d installed a glitter ball underneath the main light in the room. It didn’t revolve, but it did catch the light from the Christmas lights and reflect them back out. It looked pretty good, I thought.

Against the back wall was my vinyl and CD collection, and in the middle of them I’d bought and placed a (very cheap) set of CD decks, with a rudimentary cross-fader, which I’d rigged up to play through my fairly decent speakers. The idea was that I’d DJ most of the night, but anyone else could have a go if they liked, and they could see what music was available to them before they did so.

Other than sorting out a few “must play” tunes, I don’t usually sort out what I’m going to play in advance, preferring to play it by ear: see what goes down well, then try and find something similar to keep the mood going. But being New Year’s Eve, I had planned what I was going to play at midnight: I’d decided we needed something which included a clock striking, which I would time to happen at midnight.

I had landed on these, the first as the last record before midnight….:

watch-how-daft-punk-could-have-flipped-the-sample-on-one-more-time---edm-news

Daft Punk – One More Time

…which I’d then let run on for a few seconds to the next track on the album:

600x600bf

Daft Punk – Aerodynamic

…which I’d cut off after the chimes and, after a moment or two of silence to allow those who wanted to cheer and/or snog their other halves, go into this:

41jcdb4o0nL__SX355_

Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You (Radio Edit)

Pretty good, right?

But then, early doors, one of my mates approached me and told me he’d sussed out what I’d be playing at midnight. He was wrong, of course, but when he told me what he thought I’d play, I had to agree that his idea bested mine.

This:

chime

Orbital – Chime

As it happened, I played none of them, for at midnight I was far too busy being offended by a (friend of a friend) guest who told me that:

a) all of the music I owned was shit, then

b) that I was really old (which wasn’t inaccurate, strictly speaking, but it’s not something one should ever tell the host), and who then

c) proceeded to hide my Beastie Boys anthology CD to prevent me from playing anything from it.

For the record, I would have played Sabotage at some point,but since I’ve posted that at least twice before, here’s the back-up plan tune:

Beastie_boys-sure_shot-cover

Beastie Boys – Sure Shot

More soon.

Oh, and Happy New Year to you all.

Late Night Stargazing

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from the property managers I rent my flat through. The people in the flat below me had complained about the loudness of the music I play.

I responded, suitably chastised and apologetic, but surprised, noting that I hadn’t been playing banging house music, or hardcore thrash – the staple diet of the complaint encourager – but my Late Night Stargazing playlist, which, dear reader I’m sure you’ll agree, is almost exclusively quiet, reflective, beautiful stuff.

Like this: Orbital by another name:

golden (2)

Golden Girls – Kinetic (Orbital Mix)

Why would anyone complain about having tunes like that filter into their homes?/Suck on that, downstairs neighbours (Delete as applicable)

More soon.

The Parting of the Ways (A Fond Farewell)

Before I started working in offices doing what I do now (the high-octane world of insurance), I spent many years working in the service industry, in shops and restaurants, and I was always struck with what utterly rude pricks people can be to people working in those kinds of establishments.

As a result, I’ve always made it a rule to be pleasant to people who assist me in shops (I hate the phrase “serve me”, even more so that they have to call me “Sir”) and it’s a philosophy that I’ve tried to carry over into office life: if you’re nice to people, generally they’re nice back. And if they recall that you’ve been nice to them, then usually they’re a bit more receptive and helpful when you have to ask them to do something. A “You scratch my back” scenario, if you will.

For the past couple of years, I’ve had the great pleasure of sitting near a chap called Peter. Now, Peter is one of the warmest, most charming, most relentlessly cheerful chaps I’ve ever had the pleasure to have met. We’re on the same wavelength sense of humour-wise, by which I mean he laughs at pretty much all of my terrible jokes and stories, without once ever giving the impression it was out of politeness. As time went on, I made it my mission to try and get him to crack up during a team meeting, which I could generally achieve by somehow crowbarring the phrase “pork sword” into the conversation.

We also share a common political view and musical tastes too; in a conversation a couple of years ago, I mentioned a band that I was going to see (Pop Will Eat Itself, I think, but don’t hold me to that) who he remembered from “back in the day”, and it led us onto a long chat about various other bands from that era that we both liked. He’s one of only two people that I work with that I have told that I write this, and I know he visits here every now and then. The first time he did, he read a review of a gig I’d been to at Brixton Academy, (Super Furry Animals, I think); he spoke to me the following week to offer encouraging words and to comment on the fact that he didn’t realise they sold beer in two pint glasses at gigs these days (To be fair, that’s the only place I’ve come across it).

And then, following on from my earlier post, there was a shared love of Dr Who; he had been genuinely excited when he found that I used to live in Cardiff (where much of the show is filmed since the reboot), and enthusiastically gushed about when he and his wife had gone on holiday and done a tour of the locations used in the show. When I revealed they had filmed some scenes involving David Tennant and Billie Piper riding a scooter on the street that I lived in, I thought he was going to explode.

I mention all of this, because Wednesday of this week was Peter’s last day working with us, a sad day for many of us who had the absolute pleasure of working with him. He was one of the victims of the recent restructure which I was lucky enough to survive. (We’re in different roles, so there’s no hard feelings.)

Actually, even if we had been doing the same job, I doubt there would have been any ill-feeling, such a positive, cheerful and down-right good chap that he is.

So, a tune to dedicate to him. I’ve tried to think of something relevant to post, but I can’t get past this song and video clip, which I have posted before, but since I can’t think of anything better, here they are again, but this time, for you Peter:

220px-orbital_-_the_altogether_cover

Orbital – Doctor

And this:

Peter: stay in touch and best of luck in whatever you do next, mate.

Wait a minute. “Whatever you do next”? I know what you’re going to be doing next! The best kept secret in showbiz, that’s what. I mean, it can’t be a coincidence that you left work just days after Peter Capaldi’s last appearance as the titular Time Lord, now can it….?

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

If it’s late night stargazing, contemplation, or just plain relaxing that you’re after, with maybe the opportunity to tap your toes and occasionally go full on mental to, whichever – to just immerse yourself in sound, then you can’t go far wrong with a bit of Orbital.

Brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll hail from Sevenoaks in Kent, and released their first record, the absolute, stone cold classic “Chime” in 1989. Since then there’s been break-ups, make-ups and reformations (the duo have just announced they’re back together again for what I think is the third time), with the occasional life affirming headline set at Glastonbury thrown into the mix for good measure.

One of my favourite tracks by them is “Halcyon”, but this extended version, from their Orbital II album is just simply majestically glacial.

Enjoy all nine and a half minutes, why don’t you?

orbital

Orbital – Halcyon + On + On

More soon.

The Chain #28

Hello.

I’m not in the best of moods today. I am being held together by vodka, sleepy dust and  a general distrust of people with the ability to vote. Be gentle with me.

Just as we have to try and make Brexit work, idiotic as it may be, and just as we now have to swallow the idea of a racist, misogynistic, idiotic reality TV star being the most important and influential man in the world, idiotic as that may be, so we need to buckle down and get this done. Business as usual.

So (sorry, CC), last week we ended up with Dr. John’s “Such a Night”, from his “In the Right Place” album, and the usual request for your suggestions for songs which link to that, in the hope that someone might suggest the actual next record in the actual BB sponsored chain (rest easy, anti-BBC-ites, I get no sponsorship for this), but without caring too much about that really.

There seems to be only one place to start today. Here’s The Swede:

“‘Such a Night’ was produced by Allen Toussaint , who also wrote (among many other classics) ‘Yes We Can’ by Lee Dorsey. The song was later covered brilliantly by The Pointer Sisters, though Lee’s version is the one for me.”

lee-dorsey-yes-we-can-can-1000

Lee Dorsey – Yes We Can

In case you’re wondering why I say that’s the best place to start, much like Bob the Builder, “Yes We Can” was Obama’s slogan back in 2008. I don’t think Hillary had a slogan, did she? Maybe that’s where she went wrong. But then again, “There’s a perfectly legitimate reason why I deleted those emails” was never going to resonate with the US voting public in quite the same way as “I am a vile, groping, orange excuse for a human being” seems to have done.

That’s the last mention of it, I promise.

The remainder of this week’s suggestions can, broadly, be bracketed together. Whilst some went down the New Orleans route, the majority plumped for either links to “Doctor” or links to “John” with a few (okay, more than a few) exceptions that proved the rule. Whatever that means.

So, to the Doctor links. And we’ll start with SWC “outing” Badger as a secret Dr. Hook fan:

“Hurrah a chance for Badger to finally express in words his secret love of Dr Hook.”

As it happens, Badger didn’t take the bait, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s nothing wrong with a bit of Dr. Hook. Anyone else agree?

“I also have a secret love to Dr. Hook. Therefore I suggest ‘You Ain’t Got the Right’ because it meant a lot to me when I had the blues” offers Walter/Kuttowski

Thanks Walter! Hope this doesn’t rake up too many bad memories then:

showimage

Dr. Hook – You Ain’t Got the Right

The next one could fit in either the Doctor or the John category. Prompted by this comment, also from SWC:

“We could obviously go down the Dr John Cooper Clarke route. But I don’t know any of his songs. I do know that he has just released a record with Hugh Cornwell that is supposed to be quite good.”

Charity Chic knows some though, and he suggested thusly:

“Dr John Cooper Clark – You Will Never See a Nipple in the Daily Express”

short_circuit_-_latec

John Cooper Clarke – (You Never See a Nipple in the) Daily Express

Plenty of utter tits, though.

Time for birthday boy Badger‘s suggestions:Badger

“I’ll go rather fittingly down the doctor route. And I will steer away from Dr’s Hook, Feelgood and the Medics and suggest again rather aptly: Call the Doctor by Spacemen 3”

13280

Spacemen 3 – Call the Doctor

But wait! He’s not done there:

“Failing that the Doctor Who thing that The Timelords did.”

This, you mean?:

the-timelords-doctorin-the-tardis-minimal-1988

The Timelords – Doctorin’ The Tardis

Happy birthday, Badger. We’ll ignore the Gary Glitter sample there, obviously, as it leads me rather smartly on to my first suggestion of the week, which needs no introduction:

220px-orbital_-_the_altogether_cover

Orbital – Doctor

Okay, so maybe no introduction, but maybe a nerdo explanation. The main sound plug from that is the 1970s Tom Baker Doctor-era’s theme tune, created by the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. More than any other TV theme tune, that version makes me want to hide behind the sofa.

Also, Orbital, having mysteriously regenerated into an act who could play live again after they split up ten years or so earlier, performed this at Glastonbury in 2010, with an actual Doctor in the house:

Here with more Doctor-based shenanigans, is Alyson:

“Got a double link but no long drawn out reason for it, just that the band is Dr Feelgood and the song is Back in The Night.”

Sometimes, less is more.

dr_feelgood-back_in_the_night_s_6

Dr. Feelgood – Back In The Night

Oh wait, I have another one. Here’s a Doctor-y band, but not the song you most often associate with them:

little-miss-cant-be-wrong

Spin Doctors – Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong

And so to the Johns. But first, one of those suggestions that doesn’t really fit anywhere else. Here’s The Great Gog:

“I noticed that this song [the Dr John one, remember?] features on the music video of a film called 3000 Miles To Graceland. This set me thinking about suggesting a certain Proclaimers song six times, a certain Big Country song seven and a half times, or a certain Pretenders song one and a half times. See what erratic sleep patterns do to you?

 Ultimately though the far more obvious suggestion is the rather lovely Graceland from The Bible.”

Thank Gawd for that, for I have no idea which Big Country record you’re referring to (I got the other two!)

the-bible-graceland-chrysalis

The Bible – Graceland

Ok, so here’s SWC, back again with the first of a series of Johns:

“My favourite John in music is the one mentioned by Alexi Sayle in his quintessentially wonderful Top 20 smash ‘Ullo John! Got a New Motor?’”

r-2306108-1334331606_jpeg

Alexei Sayle – Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?

I wish I could see all my non-UK readers scratching their heads as they listen to that.

Time for a submission from The Robster who actually gives us three suggestions, this is the second:

“…how about something by The Three Johns? Death Of The European, maybe?”

folder8

 The Three Johns – Death of the European

Now, ordinarily, I wouldn’t allow multiple suggestions for the same artiste, but today, well today’s different, for today the first of these is about John Cooper Clarke. It’s not often I get to post a GCSE approved poet, so I’ll let it slide this time.

Here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“John Cooper Clarke – it has to be Twat.”

image_1447223_39ce58e3-a4da-4675-8bf8-0d5d42e73703_grande

John Cooper Clarke – Twat

I imagine Dirk will be happy with that suggestion.

And so, to the rest. Over to Charity Chic (again):

“So The Animals and Dr John are by no means the only artists to extol the virtues of New Orleans. So Native American band Redbone pitch in with The Witch Queen of New Orleans.”

r-1818129-1325444057_jpeg

Redbone – The Witch Queen Of New Orleans

He’s not done yet though, oh no:

 “So band members and brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas also contribute on an absolute classic – Harlan County by Jim Ford.”

alta_068__76689__07282011102403-9617

Jim Ford – Harlan County

Let’s pop back to hear The Robster’s other two suggestions:

“On the song title – we could have the classic December 1963 (Oh What A Night) by the Four Seasons….”

december_1963_oh_what_a_night

The Four Seasons – December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)

Would have gone for “The Night” myself, but there you go.

“And on the artist himself – Dr. John released a tribute album to Louis Armstrong a couple of years ago. One of the songs he covered was Mack The Knife. I can’t think of anything better to include here than the wonderful original by Satchmo himself.”

Me neither.

louis-armstrong-mack-the-knife-cbs

Louis Armstrong – Mack The Knife

Who wants to suggest the worst record of the week?

George does.

“I’ve got the worst song for you this week. The band Racey also recorded a song called Such a Night, but I suspect most of us know them for Lay Your Love On Me. Truly terrible”

racey-lay_your_love_on_me_a

Racey – Lay Your Love On Me

Personally, I remember them for “Some Girls” and for the lead singer’s (third one in on that picture) ability to eat an apple through a tennis racket.

But who knew there were so many links between Dr John and Racey? Here’s Rigid Digit:

“Racey also recorded a track called “Kitty” on their debut album. With a bit of gender re-orientation and a video a featuring Cheerleaders it became the one and only hit for Toni Basil, ‘Hey Mickey'”

Somewhere in the back of my mind this struck a chord, so I checked it out, and scarred though I now am for having listed to four Racey songs on the trot, he’s not wrong. It’s a bit like Scott English’s “Brandy” being changed to Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”, although apparently any rumours about English’s original being about his dog are purely fictional.

Anyway, here’s Toni Basil, in all her cheer-leading, one hit wonderness:

b89e49de32d9b7e4537b0eec6f947698

Toni Basil – Mickey

George is back:

“…and from such truly dreadful stick-pins-in-your-eyes [I’ve told you before George, if you don’t like hearing something, go for the ears every time over the eyes] song to this: The Drifters recorded a song called Such a Night, with the legendary Clyde McPhatter on lead vocal. And as a solo artist Clyde McPhatter recorded “The Treasure Of Love'”

r-5579047-1428584306-6480_jpeg

Clyde McPhatter – Treasure Of Love

And since people are coming back for another go, here’s Alyson:

“…my only real memory of Dr John is when he appeared on the BBC Charity record Perfect Day, where he popped in 2oth and then 26th order in the line-up. Very scarily that was made in 1997, nearly 20 years ago. That does link to Lou Reed and his original version which popped up in the film Trainspotting the year before and I don’t know about you but I feel bombarded today with trailers for Trainspotting 2 (in a good way). Will go with Lou Reed and Perfect Day as well if you have time?”

Have time??? Not only do I have time for this:

1405081258594perfect-day-lou-reed

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

…I also have time for this:

I cannot wait for that to land. The first film is one of my favourite films ever, and I was already excited about it, but when I saw that, which has just enough call backs to the first film to intrigue me even further…well, I’ve already started scouring the local cinema listings waiting for it to appear.

Here’s Dirk. Dirk has a different way of dealing the idea of linking records together. Whilst the rest of us ponder the staple tune and think of songs to link to it, Dirk seems to decide on what record he wants to hear then just make up any old stuff to get to it:

“Rumour has it that said Jim in the tune was not only angry about Dr. John trying to steal his woman, in fact he was incandescent with fury, so much so that he nearly was about to explode! A true story, of course, which some time later led Jack White to write “Jimmy The Exploder”, so there you are ….”

the-white-stripes-540389645a16f

The White Stripes – Jimmy The Exploder

Right, well, if you’re having that, then I’m having this. If Jimmy exploded, then you would need something or someone to clear that Mr Creosote-esque mess up. And who better, then, than Jimmy The Hoover?

jimmy-the-hoover-tantalise-wo-wo-ee-yeh-yeh-epic

Jimmy The Hoover – Tantalise

Since I allowed two poems by John Cooper Clarke in earlier, I don’t suppose I can get all sniffy about another Dr. Feelgood suggestion, can I? Here’s Walter/Kuttowski, back for seconds, and, as it turns out, those creative juices must be flowing, thirds:

“My first thought was on Dr. Feelgood and Wilco Johnson (his real name is John Wilkinson) a band that was the link between pubrock and early punk. I suggest their Sneaking Suspicion.”

51neuo7fz8l

Dr. Feelgood – Sneakin’ Suspicion

Did I say “thirds”?

“Thinking about ‘night’ Saturday night comes to my mind. Don’t worry but I won’t suggest the Bee Gee’s at this place. I remember The Leyton Buzzards another band that was active in the late 70’s. Therefore I suggest ‘Saturday Night Beneath The Plastic Palm Trees.'”

I was more worried you might suggest Whigfield, to be honest.

saturday_7_900

Leyton Buzzards – Saturday Night Beneath The Plastic Palm Trees

Rigid Digit’s back, and thankfully this time he doesn’t come armed with any Racey-based factoids:

“Dr John’s real name is Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack (thank you wikipedia).
Malcolm is one of those un-Rock n Roll names – there are a few but not many.
Malcolm Young – a choice AC/DC track to follow next?
Malcolm McLaren – sticking with the previous possible Animal link, how about Buffalo Gals?”

As you haven’t actually suggested it, you can have the album version rather than the catchier single version:

mm-duck-rock

Malcolm McLaren – Buffalo Gals

Or: “Malcolm Owen – lead singer of The Ruts.

From that lot I nominate “Staring At The Rude Boys” – the last Ruts single released before Malcolm Owen’s death (suicide?) in 1980″

RD is right to query the nature of Owen’s death. A heroin overdose, I think, so possibly not suicide.

the-ruts-staring-at-the-rude-boys-virgin-3

The Ruts – Staring At The Rude Boys

Whilst we’re on Malcolms, here’s Rol, who wins this week’s “Most Blatant Plug for his own Blog” Award.

“I thought I’d see how many songs I could come up with that mentioned a Malcolm in the lyrics. I thought there’d be very few; turns out I could easily populate a Top Ten… although a lot of them would be about Malcolm X.”

As it happens, he was going somewhere with this, so I’ll allow this subtle slice of product placement.

“‘Malcolm Solves His Problems With A Chainsaw’ by the Arrogant Worms is worthy of a mention though.”

a1723653539_10

The Arrogant Worms – Malcolm Solves His Problems With A Chain Saw

And so to The Beard:

“Dr John’s 2012 album Locked Down was produced by Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys. Dan was also the name of Alan Partridge’s one time best friend (“Dan. Dan. Dan. DAN. DAN…”). Alan Partridge when not presenting Skirmish, a military based general knowledge quiz show on digital cable television channel UK Conquest, could be found behind the wheels at Radio Norwich where, among extolling the virtues of other deep cuts, he implored listeners to “kommen sie bitte und listen to Kraftwerk”. Cue, The Model…”

Actually, if you go on that there YouTube, someone has done a mix of The Model with the Partridge quote to which you allude sampled on it, over and over and over and over and over again, ad nauseum. It’s too annoying to post a link too. I bear no responsibility for you seeking it out yourself this way.

img_2157

Kraftwerk – The Model

Now. I was all ready to apologise to Rol for posting ten songs earlier today about how annoyed I am with certain world events, but having just checked his blog, I need not have worried. Turns out, there’s plenty of songs we can use to illustrate what a dick Trump is.

Anyway, here’s Rol, with the last two suggestions of the week:

“1. In the lyrics to Such A Night, Dr. John sings “You came here with my best friend Jim, and here I am, trying to steal you away from him…”

One famous Jim who’s obviously lost his woman to another man (even though he claims it’s nobody else’s fault) is Jimmy Buffet in the song Margaritaville.”

margaritaville-west_german7_singlecover

Jimmy Buffett – Margaritaville

“2. Dr. John performed Such A Night in The Band’s famous Last Waltz concert. One of my favourite waltzes is Margo’s Waltz by Lloyd Cole.”

lloyd_cole_-_dont_get_weird_on_me_babe_-_front

Lloyd Cole – Margo’s Waltz

There’s a reason that I’ve left Rol’s final suggestion until last: he came perilously close to suggesting the official record in the official Chain:

“Dr John played at The Last Waltz, which was The Band’s final concert…”

the-band-up-on-cripple-creek-capitol-7

28. The Band – Up On Cripple Creek

So close….

Anyway, as I pack the cigar away (not a Clinton reference), all that’s left for me to do is invite you to submit your suggestions for songs that link to The Band’s “Up On Cripple Creek”, along with your description of the link which needs to get past my incredibly rigorous vetting process, via the Comments section down below.

And, I guarantee, unless anyone suggests the same record, I have the worst one for next week already down.

See you next week.

More soon.

Sunday Afternoon Movie Club

I don’t know if you’ve noticed – it may have slipped under your radar somehow – but there’s a new Star Wars film out soon. You’d think Disney’s advertising and promotional chaps would have done something to bring this to our attention, right?

In preparation for the big day, I thought I’d spend this weekend gorging on the previous six, until I realised I don’t own copies of Parts 2 and 3, which – go on, lynch me – I’ve never seen, having given up after sitting through the snooze-fest that was Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Seriously, you know a film is piss poor if the presence of Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor can’t save it, and if the only thing you remember about it is how annoying Jar Jar Binks is.

Anyway, having re-watched the first one, by which I apparently mean the fourth one, I was all ready to write something terribly witty about how everyone says that basically this is a film about good vs evil, with the Jedi Knights and the Force representing “Good” and Darth Vader and The Empire representing “Evil”, that the Empire are the capitalist bastards, intent on bombing or shooting everything, including little girls (and the Earth) in pastiche John Lewis Christmas adverts.

It’s not quite that straight-forward though; part of this argument is founded on the fact that Darth Vader (bad) is dressed all in black, whilst Luke and Leia (good) are dressed in white, which putting aside the obviously racist connotations of that premise for a moment, doesn’t quite stack up when you consider that the Stormtroopers are also dressed in white. And rubbish at running through doorways.

Anyway, as I attempted to think of something new to write about the Star Wars franchise, a scene from a very different film came into my mind.

This one, to be precise.

For the uninitiated, that’s from this:

artworks-000012771526-uf3yol-original

1999’s Human Traffic is, without doubt, my favourite film in the world ever. Don’t get me wrong,  I am well aware this is not a cinematic masterpiece. For a start, it contains one of the most cringe-worthy scenes ever committed to celluloid when they perform an alternative National Anthem, which I’m not going to post a link to, as it will put you off watching it – but it reminds me of a particular time and place in my life, and for that reason alone it holds a very special place in my heart.

Here’s what IMDB has to say about the plot: “Five friends spend one lost weekend in a mix of music, love and club culture.”

That doesn’t really do the film justice. Set in the club scene of Cardiff (and therefore earning a big fat tick from me), it tells the story of a group of friends getting ready for a big weekend, blagging entry to a club via a cameo from DJ God Carl Cox (my heart swells with pride that whilst the club scenes aren’t filmed in it, the scene where they are queuing up to get in was filmed outside my favourite club in the world ever, The Emporium – more of that some other time), having it large, going to a house party and then the ultimate come-down. Which doesn’t seem all that much now I see it written down, but trust me, there’s warmth, wittiness and above all accuracy about the film that, if you’ve ever been into clubbing then a) you will probably already have seen this, and b) if you haven’t, you will fucking love it. Many films have tried to capture the clubbing scene of the 1990s, but none have absolutely nailed it in the way that Human Traffic does.

It stars John Simm, an actor I’ve admired for many years and will watch pretty much anything he’s in and know I’m not going to be let down, as Jip, Shaun Parkes as Koop, Lorraine Pilkington as Lulu, Nicola Reynolds as Nina, and a cameo from Andrew Lincoln as Felix (you’ll maybe know him better as Rick from The Walking Dead, but to me he’ll always be Egg from This Life).

And then, crucially, and totally owning the film, there’s Danny Dyer as Moff.

This is unquestionably Dyer’s break-out role, having featured in the usual litany of TV standards before this. For me, he will forever be Moff (see there’s even a Star Wars reference there for you).

Moff is a small time dealer, sorting out his friends and a few others outside the circle, trapped in a situation where he has to live with his parents – his father is a policeman – and of having no job to fund his…er…extra-curricula activities.

These days, Dyer is sometimes mocked for his image as a professional Cockney, derided for being type-cast in numerous films as playing a geezer, and a quick look at his CV gives you an idea as to why that is. Critics would argue that he perhaps didn’t  exactly over-extended himself. Here’s some edited highlights:

2001 – Billy the Limpet in “Mean Machine” (a Vinnie Jones vehicle, for Christ’s sake)

2001 – Brad in “Is Harry on the Boat?”, a British made-for-TV film, based on the lives of holiday reps in Ibiza where even the title is in Cockney rhyming slang (and which I’m not going to explain here, s’too rude)

2004 – Tommy Johnson in “The Football Factory”, a film about football hooliganism

2005 – Frankie in “The Business”  a cockney gangster movie set on the Costa Del Sol

2006 – Steve in “Severance” (I quite enjoyed this one actually)

2009 – Stanley in “Pimp” where he plays a Cockney..oh, you can work it out.

2013 – Mick in “EastEnders”, your archetypal Cockney hard-man with a heart of gold, running the iconic Queen Vic pub.

I fear it will be the latter for which he is most remembered, that and his frankly cringe-worthy series of programmes, originally for the now defunct Bravo channel if memory serves, where he interviewed various football hooligans and hard men, called, without a hint of irony, “Danny Dyer’s Hardmen”, or for his unintentionally hilarious ( I think unintentionally…is he really that arch and knowing….?) BBC3 documentary where he went off in search of UFOs, which you can watch here, and I would thoroughly recommend you do. Or if you have less time, his appearance on 8 Out of 10 Cats sums it up pretty well. Or for his use of the C-bomb on the same show to describe Postman Pat, which you can watch here but which you might have to sign in to watch, so offensive is the use of the dreaded word.

As you may have guessed, I could post links to Danny Dyer related content all day long. The guy is the very physical embodiment of the gift that keeps on giving, and my admiration and respect for him is the very real embodiment of man-love. Personally, I think he’s savvy enough to know what the public perception of him is, and plays up to it to Ker-ching! cash in on it. Fair play to him if that’s the case.

But all of that is a shame, because his turn as Moff in Human Traffic is utterly brilliant. Watch it – but steer clear of the cash-in “Remixed” version where all of the tunes from the actual film are replaced by different ones which don’t quite work as well in the context of the movie.

Anyway, here’s some tunes from the original soundtrack, chosen by Pete Tong. Well, actually, chosen by me on this occasion, but Pete Tong was the musical director on the film, so you get an idea of just how authentic the film is.

220px-HumanTrafficSoundtrackCDAlbumCoverTchernomushLucid – Scared

R-84766-1083316132_gif Brother Brown Feat. Frank’ee – Under The Water

R-60161-1253409559_jpeg CJ Bolland – It Ain’t Gonna Be Me

 

0762112fd72445089cf88b2df82b2d03 The Age Of Love – The Age Of Love (Jam & Spoon Radio Edit)

R-7974-1186407174_jpeg System F – Out Of The Blue

CS1787287-02A-BIGEnergy 52 – Café Del Mar

Orbital-BelfastWasted-158939 Orbital – Belfast

More soon.

 

 

 

Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For… (Part 2)

glasto_04_bbcthree_a

And Lo! So it came to pass that the majority of the same motley crew from Glastonbury 2003 all managed to get tickets for Glastonbury 2004, with a few additions. I’m not going to list them all for a couple of reasons: firstly, they may not appreciate being linked to some of the activities described below; and secondly, I’m not entirely sure who all of the additions were (by which I mean, I’m not sure I can remember who was there, rather than not being sure who they were). Anyway, by my reckoning there were 16 of us this time, a record figure never to be repeated, not by us anyway.

I’d learned three lessons from the previous year:

1) Arrtive early (we did)

2) The stuff on the Pyramid Stage is not necessarily the most interesting stuff that’s going on (I vowed not to spend the whole weekend there again)

3) Stay off the brownies (I’m pleased to report that not one passed my lips)

You may call into question how honest I’m being on that last point when I tell you that when writing and researching this post, I find not only are there dirty great holes in my memory, but also that some of the acts listed in the 2004 booklet, and on the Wikipedia page, are not listed where and when I remember them being. But trust me, it was a brownie-free weekend.

We’ll stick with what I can remember, and what I think I remember.

Friday began with me utterly failing to honour my promise to not just sit at the Pyramid Stage all day. Although there were 16 of us in total, two (who shall be named: Gary and Meg) didn’t arrive until the Friday afternoon and for some reason we’d arranged to meet them at our usual spot at the back of the Pyramid Stage.

Much drinking ensued, and since the majority of our party were Welsh (I think just three, maybe four, of us were English) we spent much of the day making up humorous puns based on Welsh place names/acts playing the festival, in much the same way that now “I Love The Diff” do mugs with the names of works of popular fiction altered to include a Welsh place name or phrase. I haven’t explained that at all well, have I? Well, have a look here and you’ll see what I’m banging on about.

We came up with dozens of these, the pick being “Kings of Caerleon”, which years later Newport’s finest, Goldie Lookin’ Chain named one of their albums. I knew we should have got a copy right on that.

We even adopted the words to “Molly’s Chambers”, which in our world now went:

“You want it, she’s got it, Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind,  Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind. She’s got your, your rissoles! Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind,  Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind.”

Well, we found it funny, anyway. That’s the scrumpy for you.

Truth be told, this is where the first of the black holes in my memory appears.

My source materials tell me the first act on the Pyramid was Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band (Nope, me neither). It’s entirely possible that I started elsewhere, but a quick flick through the listings fails to jog my memory as to quite what I was doing. I know I definitely wasn’t over at The Other Stage, that’s for sure, for that would have meant I was watching Kasabian, and I’d already developed a healthy, well-founded aversion to Leicester’s finest exponents of deathly unoriginal cock-rock. To this day I would rather eat my own testicles than sit through a Kasabian gig.

Let’s assume I was sleeping off a heavy Thursday night. This is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

I do know that I was at The Pyramid in time to catch Bright Eyes, but remember nothing other than being totally underwhelmed by him/them. Next up: Wilco, a band who, given their association with Billy Bragg, you’d think I’d have some vague recollection of seeing, but no. Nothing. Zip.

Nelly Furtado. Yup, I remember her alright. Not quite sure why she was there, but there she was. You want proof? Ok.

Nelly Furtado – Turn Out The Lights (Glastonbury 2004)

Want more proof? What am I, your mother? Go YouTube it.

Next up, Elbow, a band enjoying a ground-swell in popularity at the time, which has seen them edge further and further up the bill as the years have gone on. This was, of course, in pre-Seldom Seen Kid days, and before that bloody song about opening your curtains became the obligatory soundtrack to every momentous event on television. Their set was notable for their performance of Grace Under Pressure; the version which appeared on their “Cast of Thousands” album featured a recording of the Glastonbury crowd from 2002 singing along (see what they did there? Quite literally, a Cast of Thousands), and which we were encouraged to reproduce, which most of us gladly did, even though we’d never heard the song before. I wondered loudly if I would get a share of their fee for assisting their performance. Suffice to say, I had not exactly entered into the spirit of things at this point.

Next: Groove Armada. I have a bit of a soft spot for this lot, mostly because a year or so later I saw them at Lovebox and during their set witnessed a bloke successfully – yes, successfully! – using the greatest, most bizarre chat-up line I have ever heard (for the record, it was: “Do you like Ian Dowie? I like Ian Dowie!!) And whilst, again, my recollection of their set is the very definition of “sketchy”, they definitely did Superstylin’, to my mind one of the happiest summer-ish records ever. So there.

PJ Harvey was next up, a typically wonderful set. I think. Can’t really remember it (it’s going well this, isn’t it?). Sadly, I’ve not been able to source much from her set, bar her rendition of The Letter which, marvellous though it is, isn’t the Alex Chilton/Box Tops classic of the same name. I think she’d do a tidy version of that. Probably wouldn’t even change the “she” to “he”, the saucy androgynous sexpot.

Next up were the Kings of (Caer)Leon, and if you thought my recollection has been a tad on the sketchy side so far, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, for events were about to overtake us. In between Peej and the Followill brothers, O’Keefe and I were sitting on the grass, more than a tad pissed, happily watching the world go by, when I suddenly heard O’Keefe say “Ey up, eyes right!”. I assumed he had spotted an attractive lady, looked round, and spying nobody I thought likely to have raised his dander, said “Nice was she?”.

“No”, he replied, “on the ground. There.” I looked down to my right, and was greeted by the totally unexpected site of a rather large bag of white powder, nestling in the grass next to me. “Someone just dropped it when they walked by”. Quick as a flash, it was scooped up and safely stashed in my rucksack.

Now. I am not about to condone any kind of drug use. And I am certainly not about to suggest to anyone that they, in the event they are presented  with a similar scenario, should do anything other than hand the contraband it in to the relevant authorities.

That said, at this time in my life, well….let’s just say that I had a bit of a reputation to uphold, and there was therefore only one place the contents of that bag were going. One quick dab confirmed it was speed. Not my favourite, but what the heck. A few more dabs, and Kings of Leon were on stage (the two facts are not linked, though I probably thought they were at the time. I very much doubt that Will Followill peeked out from behind the stage curtain, spotted me, and said “Hold on guys, he’s only had a few dabs…let’s give him a few minutes, eh?”). What seemed to be just a few more dabs later and their set was over. They did “Molly’s Chambers”, apparently. We sang the new improved chorus.

A few (okay, a lot) dabs more, the bag was empty (I’m not going to pretend I consumed the whole bag, but I am going to confirm I consumed most of the bag, and that none of the other people from our gang mentioned in this post had any), and suddenly, Oasis were coming on (similarly, there was no curtain twitching by Bonehead).

Never mind all of these Frank adverts which are supposed to scare folks off drugs; the most effective way to achieve total global abstinence from all things narcotic would have been to have a video camera permanently trained on me throughout Oasis’ set, for if ever there was an example of someone being off their tits and thinking they were the funniest bloke on the planet, but actually being an annoying, tedious prick, it was me, then. I spent the entire set with my hands clasped behind my back, leaning forward into an imaginary microphone, doing dreadful, oh so dreadful, Liam impressions (“Is it my imaginaayyyy-shun….”…”sunnnshiiiine” etc etc you get the giste), and also, bizarrely, encouraging everyone round me to “gather round…sing along…you all know the words”, phrases I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say.

It was later reported to me that my flatmate Llyr, when realising what was going on (and more pertinently, what I was on), was heard to mutter “Okay, own up: who’s given him a whole bag of speed?” and, later “If he wasn’t my mate I’d have fucking chinned him by now” He would have been well within his rights to have done so.

Here’s the performance of Cigarettes and Alcohol. Thankfully, they were loud enough to drown me out (just).

Saturday arrived. More (understandably, given the above) vague memories of making my way through the crowd on The Other Stage during Keane’s set at precisely the moment they performed Somewhere Only We Know the only song by them that I’ve ever liked. The intended destination was The Pyramid for Scissor Sisters, who seemed to be just about everywhere at the time, their debut album churning out an endless supply of glam-camp sing ‘n’ frug along pop nuggets, pick of the batch being Take Your Mama Out

Lostprophets were next on the main stage; bearing in mind the name of this blog, and the despicable, depraved behaviour which led to their lead singer’s recent incarceration, I’m glad I didn’t hang around for them. Nope: back over to The Other Stage for My Morning Jacket and British Sea Power (I got nothing) followed by a quick pit stop before returning to The Pyramid for……. the Black Eyed Peas! I’m joking, but sadly not about them playing there, for there they played. No, I did not return to The Pyramid to see them (though I did have the misfortune of catching their last song or two) – the possibility of seeing Fergie soil her trackie bottoms on stage was not sufficient a draw for me (or drawers, haha see what I did there?). No, I was off to see the headliner, Paul “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft” McCartney (readers of Smash Hits in the 1980s will appreciate how much I loved just typing that).

McCartney divided opinion in our gang even before he came on stage. We were split pretty much 50/50, with half of the group (some might say, the cooler, or perhaps just the younger ones) opting to go and see Basement Jaxx play The Other Stage, the rest of us electing to watch McCartney. My position on this is that it’s not often you get chance to see one of the Beatles play live these days (and Lord knows we’re not exactly blessed with choices about which of them to see now anyway), and there was no way I would ever pay to go see McCartney anywhere else, so since he’d been nice enough to turn up…well, it’d be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

His set was one of the most enjoyable couple of hours I’ve ever spent at Glastonbury, one massive sing-a-long as he bashed out hit after hit after hit; kicking off with Jet (a song which always reminds me of Alan Partridge), Live and Let Die, and also treating us to a remarkable version of Helter Skelter. I have a vague recollection of being told this was the first time he had played it live since the whole Manson Family she-bang back in the late 1960s. Even more remarkably, his set didn’t end with an overly long rendition of either Let it Be or Hey Jude.

Sunday began, as every Sunday should, with a performance of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie on The Pyramid, followed by, apparently, Joss Stone. This is another one of those occasions where my memory plays tricks on me, for in my head Goldie Lookin’ Chain were on next, but since I can find nothing to corroborate this, I’ll just have to accept that they weren’t. Or were they….? The Glasto 2004 booklet has a slot between the Opera and Stone listed as “tbc”, so maybe I have remembered that right. I know I didn’t sit through Joss Stone and her pseudo-American accent (although that was a few years away yet), but I do know that I sat through lashings of rain and Christy Moore who was on after her…so…oh, I just don’t know.

The early part of my afternoon was spent over at The Other Stage, watching Belle & Sebastian, a band I was only really just getting into, despite having bought The Boy With the Arab Strap a few years earlier after I was impressed by their whole internet voting to win a Brit award-thing. The weather until then had been pretty crappy, but mid-set the clouds parted and the sun made an appearance, along with a spectacular rainbow. It was one of those moments that ordinarily you’d find quite lovely, but at Glastonbury you find yourself grinning from ear to ear about, attributing the change in climate and improved spectacle purely to whoever was on the stage at the time. I’m reliably informed the mood was much the same over at The Pyramid, where Supergrass were playing instead of The Libertines. Any rumours that Pete Doherty had refused to play until someone located his missing bag of speed are completely unfounded.

Next: Morrissey at the Pyramid. Now I love The Smiths, and, despite buying pretty much everything he’s ever released since the split, I have to say I’ve always found his solo stuff somewhat lacking. Sure, there are highlights, but they are few and far between, generally restricted to a few great singles and the occasional album track rather than the utterly flawless output created by him and Johnny Marr (I am legally obliged to add “and by Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce too”; anyone who has ever read Morrissey’s biography cannot have failed to notice that the legal case which led to Joyce getting a large slice of royalties still sticks in Morrissey’s craw, so much space does it take up in the book). Live, Morrissey and his pub-rock backing band will often try and recapture some of those past glories; but just listen to their version of “The Headmaster Ritual” at the start of this five song snippet (also featuring “The First of the Gang to Die”, “The World is Full of Crushing Bores”, “Everyday is Like Sunday” and “Irish Blood, English Heart”): plod…..plod……plod…….. Be grateful I haven’t posted a link to them doing “This Charming Man”, one of the most splendid records ever committed to vinyl, but which they somehow manage to make sound like “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet. The problem is that the band is lacking a certain spark, and the certain spark is someone who can play guitar like Johnny Marr, or preferably, the actual Johnny Marr.

Bringing things to a conclusion on The Pyramid were Muse, a band renowned for their astonishing stage shows. We, on the other hand, decided we would rather end the weekend over at The Other Stage where Orbital were performing what at the time was supposed to be their final ever appearance anywhere ever. The Hartnoll brothers have since got back together and even played Glastonbury again in 2010; however, believing this would be our last chance to ever see them, and being well aware of their entry into the annals of Glasto history following previous performances at the festival, the majority of us decided that’s where we wanted to be.

I say “the majority”, for there was one of our gang who most decidedly did not want to see Orbital, she wanted to see Muse, and took every possible opportunity to remind us that she wanted to see Muse, and that Muse were her favourite band and she really wanted to see them and they were supposed to be amazing and they were her favourite band and she really wanted to see them.

Now, I’m usually quite a laid back kind of chap. It takes a lot to get me riled. And even more to make me snap at someone, preferring to restrict airing my discontent to catty comments whispered to whoever happened to be standing nearest to me, like the true gentleman I am.

But by the time Orbital started, I snapped. I could make a case for mitigation in my defence: I was tired. It was raining. I was soaked. But the fact is, I’d just had enough of her whining, and, on hearing her announcing for the umpteenth time that she loved Muse, I found myself whirling round to vent: “Right. I’ve had enough of you now! We are not going to watch Muse. We are going to watch Orbital. If you don’t want to watch Orbital then Muse are playing over there, so either fuck off to watch them, or shut up and stay here!.”

I’m a real charmer when I lose my rag, that’s for sure.

Despite the whine and the rain, Orbital were amazing, treating us to Belfast (played surprisingly early in their set, possibly in an effort to get me to chill the fuck out), Satan (nuff said), Halcyon (one of my all time faves) and, inevitably, Chime

And so ended Glastonbury 2004. Well, not quite. The next day proved to be one of the most hellish in respect of actually trying to get out of the site, with traffic gridlocked for hour after hour after hour. Those of us heading back to Wales were luckiest, our minibus finally hitting the main roads some 4 hours after we had set off. Our London buddies were less fortunate, some of them still sitting in their car in the car park as night fell on the Monday.

But this delayed ending did provide one final moment of unutterable pleasure. We in the minibus had the radio tuned to Worthy FM, the radio station which broadcasts from somewhere deep within the bowels of the Eavis farm buildings throughout the festival. Our collective ears perked up as we heard a dedication coming out the speakers:

“And here’s a request from Gary and Meg, asking us to play “Molly’s Chambers” by…oh, it says the Kings of Caerleon here, that can’t be right…never mind…anyway, thanks from Gary and Meg to all of the Welsh gang for a wonderful weekend, and don’t forget: Bonnie Tyler has got your rissole. Er…ok. I’m not sure I understand that. Anyway, here’s the Kings of Leon and Molly’s Chambers