Firstly, I wanted to do a mix unlike the Not Christmas one, which I thought strayed a bit too far into the territories of cheese or chart music. Whilst it served a purpose, it wasn’t really indicative of the sort of tunes which usually feature here.
This one, though is a corker, even if I do say so myself.
Regular readers may recall that way back in the late 1980s, I started DJ’ing at college because I was fed up with being able to guess what song the indie DJs would play next. So imagine my annoyance when my own brother told me that on a previous mix he’d been able to predict my next choice a couple of times. Grrr.
But this mix has proved to be such a pain to complete; when I came to do it today, it tells me that some of the tunes have been played 22 times, which gives you an idea of how many times I’ve tried to get this one right. Pretty much once a week, since Christmas.
What’s gone wrong all those times? Well, on more than one occasion professional pride kicked in: I’ve messed up a mix between tunes, so have elected to start again.
On more than one occasion, preoccupied with playing Solitaire or Candy Crush just to have something to do whilst recording the mix, there’s a sudden, irretrievable silence where the next record should be. Oops!
Once I forgot to stop recording until an hour later, and, triumphant at how the mixes had worked out, I couldn’t understand why the mix lasted over 5 hours, until I listened to it.
The other problem is booze. More than once, I’ve taken drink to such an extent that I’ve forgotten I was doing a mix until the silence after one record has finished hits home and startled me awake.
Last weekend, I got to the third record from the end, and suddenly woke up to silence and realised I’d messed up again. That’s not an indictment of the standard of the mix, by the way, more an example of how drunk I’d gotten.
Even last night, when I finally nailed it, it was my second attempt of the night, having got through most of the mix when I had a drink-spillage event, which I thought I’d sorted, until, four records from the end, suddenly the sound cut out whilst the tunes kept playing and I had no idea if it was still recording the sound or the sound of silence.
Anyway, we’ve got here, and this has been a real pain, so if you could take a listen, that would be great.
I will confess that I have broken the golden rule of not featuring the same act more than once in this mix; this wasn’t intentional, but as the various run-throughs progressed, I simply forgot said acts already appeared as “featuring” acts. One is deliberate. Sue me (Please don’t).
Time for the usual disclaimer: any glitches, skips or jumps are down to the software or the uploading/downloading process, and nothing to do with my limited mixing skills.
Oh, and the usual “effing and jeffing” warning applies; it seems I’m incapable of doing a mix which doesn’t include more than the occasional swear.
I’m not posting a link to download here, other than the one to Soundcloud, where you can either download or stream it.
I couldn’t be bothered with the last ones, but I’ve done it this time: you’ll see a list of all the acts featured in this mix at the bottom of the page, so you can check whether this one’s likely to be your cup of tea before going to the hassle of actually listening to it. If you’re particularly short of things to do, you can try to guess which song I’ve picked by which artist. There’s fun.
But by way of a description: pretty much all life is here, from indie rock to 60s California hippy-shtick, some Old Skool dance classics, some hip-hop and some soul classics via some Northern Soul belters via some TV show theme tunes (sort of); there’s some hoary old rock and some psychobilly, and a couple of tracks which should have featured in a New post by now, but the bands in question played the 6Music festival last weekend so you’ll probably know them intimately by now. And, of course, there’s The Fall.
Easy on the cheese this time, there’s even some poetry so we can all pretend we’re intellectual. You’ll have chance to dance, sit and recover for a few moments, before getting back on it again.
Available for a limited time (i.e. until I do the next one), you can download or stream this on Soundcloud here:
When I last sounded off, one of the many topics was students and the utter fiasco which was their A-Level results, so let’s pick up there.
Now, this may come as a shock to many of you, but what you achieve at A-Level pretty much decides what happens next for you. Do badly: start looking for a job.But do well and you can start thinking about what university offer you want to accept, to continue your education.
So before I go any further, congratulations to all who achieved sufficiently impressive grades, despite the interference of Gavin Williamson and his blessed algorithms.
I don’t think this will come as much of a surprise to many, but what happens next is that those who have achieved the required grades travel to live at and attend the university they had been accepted by.
What actually happened next was also no surprise: a spike in those away from home for the first time, now diagnosed with Covid and impelled to self-isolate.
I have a lot of sympathy for the students here; they had been told that they were of an age-group unlikely to be susceptible to virus, and were happily told to pack themselves off to college to enjoy themselves. There has been much talk of “The University Experience” and what that means: you live away from home for the first time, you study but you also meet lots of new people from different parts of the country. You bond, you may go on to party with them, and if you’re very lucky, you might sleep with at least one of them.
There was no need for them to leave home at all: the lectures could have been engaged in at home online, rather than having the students leave home and then be confined to their rooms. So let’s be clear: these students are not attending lectures: because of the ongoing crisis, it’s all being done online, via Teams or Zoom, all of which could have been done from the comfort of their own homes.
Try telling me, in those exact same circumstances, if it were you then you wouldn’t try to meet up with people, and I call bullshit.
This was, of course, not the Goverment’s fault. Nosireebob. Here’s Dido Harding, and just to fill you in on her qualifications: Diana Mary “Dido” Harding, Baroness Harding of Winscombe is a British Conservative Party businesswoman who served as chairwoman of NHS Improvement since 2017, current head of the Test and Trace programme, and acting Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection since 2020.
She is also the former chief executive of the TalkTalk Group where she faced calls for her to resign after a cyber attack revealed the details of 4 million customers. A member of the Conservative Party, she’s married to Conservative Party MP John Penrose, and is a friend of former Prime Minister David Cameron. Dido was appointed as a Member of the House of Lords by Cameron in 2014 and she holds a board position at the Jockey Club, which is responsible for several major horse-racing events including the Cheltenham Festival. (That’s the same Cheltenham Festival which was allowed to take place this year, despite the obvious Covid risks it presented.)
Dido – head of Track and Trace, remember – said “I don’t think anybody was expecting, to see the real sizable increase in demand that we’ve seen over the last few weeks, so none of the modelling was expecting that, and that’s why we all need to think really hard about how we prioritise the use of these tests.”
No, Dido. Nobody could possibly have predicted that students would go to University at the start of term in September. Absolutely unforeseeable.
Think about this too: most of the people who had been helping with testing over the summer worked for universities, and so when they returned to their full-time jobs, said testing positions were left vacant.
You’ll be shocked to learn the Government hadn’t thought of this and, like Roy Hodgson as England Manager (sorry for the comparison, Roy) had no back-up plan, no Plan B. Just surprise: suddenly we have less people to administer the tests at exactly the time where we’re encouraging more people to get tested. This, of course, could not have been predicted.
Which leads us to the situation where people who needed to have a Covid test suddenly found that they were instructed to drive hundreds of miles to the nearest appointment. That’s travelling at Cummings-grade level.
See, the thing one thing everybody agrees on (now) is that keeping the virus in check relies on having a fully working Track and Trace system. The Independent published this handy, cut-out-and-keep chronology of our dabbling with the idea of tracking and tracing:
‘January 2020 – deadly pandemic breaks out.
February 2020 – World Health Organisation issues three word advice: “Test. Test. Test.”
UK’s deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries responds by saying: “There comes a stage in a pandemic where testing is not an appropriate intervention.”
March 2020 – Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, advises people with coronavirus symptoms to self-isolate at home and don’t get tested.
April 2020 – Matt Hancock decides testing is in fact important. Launches drive to “100,000-tests-a-day” target.
May 2020 – Matt Hancock announces his own success in reaching his 100,000-a-day target, which turns out to have been through putting 35,000 tests in the post the previous day.
Dido Harding is put in charge of test and trace programme. Boris Johnson promises it will be “world-beating”.
July 2020 – government starts bribing people to go to pubs and restaurants, and threatening people with redundancy if they don’t go back to the office.
August 2020 – infection rate begins to soar. People going to pubs are blamed.
September 2020 – schools reopen. Infection rates rise to more than 4,000 a day. The “world-beating” test and trace system is running at full capacity. Parents in London with coughing children are advised to drive them to Inverness if they want a test. If they don’t get a test, the child can’t go to school and the parents can’t go to work.
Dido Harding tells a House of Commons select committee: “I don’t think anybody was expecting to see the really sizeable increase in demand that we’ve seen over the course of the last few weeks.”
Harding continued to explain that she had no real idea how many people were trying and failing to get a test. The system capacity is 250,000 a day. The only way to know how oversubscribed it is by measuring “how many people are visiting the website and calling the number”.
She did acknowledge that there would be some “double counting” involved, which indeed there would be, as anyone who has ever tried to use a website or call a phone line that is not capable of coping with the demands placed on it will testify. “Between the years 2011 and 2019, for example (The Independent journalist writes), “I would estimate that I personally represent over a quarter of a million people attempting to buy a ticket for the Glastonbury Festival. One would hope a “world-beating” test and trace system would have rather more robust metrics in place for gauging how many people in the country think they’ve got coronavirus.”
Look, I know I’m a raving Leftie, but I do not dare to claim that things would necessarily have been any better had Labour won the last election, especially when you think about who would have been in charge if “we” had won. But Jesus wept, I’d like to think there would be at least an element of transparency, of learning from mistakes, which is not what we’re seeing now.
For a start, don’t be fooled by Conservative MPs referring to what we do have as “NHS Track and Trace”. The implication in them referring to it as such is that the NHS is at the heart of it, when in actual fact it has knack all to do with the the NHS.
In fact, it is an outsourced service provided to the NHS. The contact tracers are employed by Serco, who were paid £108 million for the first phase of the work, up to late August. The call centre is operated by American specialists Sitel, who were paid £84m for a similar period.
Money well earned.
So why do Conservative MPs continue to refer to it as NHS Track and Trace? Call me a cynic, but I think it’s because they want you to believe, when this is all finally over and done with, that it was the NHS that failed the nation, rather than one or any number of the privately owned firms who are actually culpable, and to whom our most precious asset will doubtless be sold off.
Who, when reading this and seeing the name Serco did not feel their heart sag? Oh that lot, we thought. For Serco have a bit of a reputation: in July 2019, a fine of £19.2m was imposed on them for fraud and false accounting over its electronic tagging service for the Ministry of Justice. This is where they were found to have charged us – the British taxpayer – for tagging a number of prisoners temporarily and legitimately released from prison, whom they hadn’t tagged at all. The company was also ordered to pay the Serious Fraud Office’s investigative costs of £3.7 million.
And what do we do with companies who have failed to adhere to the very basic terms of a contract? Give them another one, that’s what.
Incidentally, Serco have also been accused of an extensive cover-up over sexual abuse of immigrants at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire, and, together with its consortium partners, failing to develop a strategy for managing Higher Active radioactive Waste at the Atomic Weapons Establishment. I think that’s a Full House, isn’t it?
So, Serco are exactly the sort of people one would expect to have been awarded such a lucrative and important contract as the Track and Trace one. I could go on about how these contracts, and many others, which have wasted millions, if not billions, of pounds since Covid kicked in, were awarded without going through the proper tender process and just so happened to be awarded to companies which are owned by, or who have shareholders who are Conservative MPs or their main fund providers, but you’re all smart cookies. You can look it up.
And get this: the government backed Track and Trace app, which you’ve doubtless seen advertised this week, encouraging us to download it and help beat the virus, isn’t actually compatible with Covid tests done by the NHS.
World-beating, my arse.
Let me just say this: there are parallels to be drawn between the money which has been made by Tory benefactors since Covid, and those that a record company makes when a star on their books dies:
At the time of writing, the Goverment has wasted £3,895,556,000 since March. This includes unsafe testing kits; face masks that don’t work; broken tracing systems; useless antibody tests; contracts to sweet manufacturers and dormant companies with no employees, to provide PPE that, well who’d have thunk it, never arrived.
Three words: Magic. Money. Tree.
At the end of July 2020, debt was £2,004 billion, £227.6 billion more than at the same point last year. Just remember that next time Labour is painted as the profligate party.
Yeh, yeh…these are unprecedented times of national crisis…I get that. Extra money had to be spent. Agreed. But that should not be seen as an opportunity to line the pockets of your already stinking-rich mates.
Meanwhile, as various areas – the North East, the North East, South Wales (fuck it, anywhere but London) – saw spikes in those who were diagnosed with Covid, the Government implemented regional restrictions in an attempt to curb the rise. The problem here was that nobody in Government seemed to know exactly what the rules were from one area to the next: when questioned junior minister Gillian Keegan was unable to explain what the rules were in the North East. You can maybe excuse her for not being all over the detail (were she not being interviewed on a local radio programme in one of the areas in question), but surely one could expect the person who had imposed, or at the very least sanctioned, said measures to be all over it like the proverbial tramp on chips, no?
No. For later the same day, our PM when asked got it wrong too, prompting this hastily written (by someone else) Tweet:
Fair play for admitting he got it wrong, but via the medium of Twitter is hardly the way to announce it, is it? He may as well have hidden in another fridge. Get out in front of the press again, man. I brought eggs.
And “Misspoke”…? Miss-speaking is when you accidentally refer to someone as Mrs rather than Miss. This was not him miss-speaking, this was him getting it wrong. Politician-speak, see: where the words “I’m sorry” are followed by the word “if…”; where you have to make it seem like you’ve said what is expected or anticipated, but where you leave yourself enough wriggle-room to amend, backtrack, clarify or denounce as deemed necessary later on.
This is where the whole matter of trust comes into play. Now, more than ever, it is essential that the people of the UK trust and believe in those who rule over us, and yet what we constantly get is the breaking of rules we’re supposed to adhere to, and the flim-flam justification for doing so, followed by errors and cover-ups. I’m not necessarily advocating another nationwide lockdown, but what I am asking for is for consistency. Is that too much to ask?
An example: new rules state that pubs and clubs must now shut at 10:00 pm. Putting aside the implied idiocy of thinking that the Covid virus is only active from 10:01 pm, and the actual idiocy of having all pubs turf people out at exactly the same time, to travel home on public transport where social distancing is simply not possible, what was not widely advertised was that one particular set of bars were exempt from the rule: those located in the House of Commons.
In the meantime, regional spikes – and we should really start calling it what it really is now: the second wave – led to our Government asking us all to work from home where possible, when only a matter of weeks ago they were encouraging us to go back to our offices to work, under the pretence that local sandwich businesses were struggling. Let’s call that what it was too, whilst we’re at it: it’s no coincidence that the people who were losing out on rent for vacant office buildings just so happened to also be major contributors to the Conservative coffers. And we can’t have those billionaires being out of pocket, now can we?
These spikes are, apparently, all our fault: we love freedom “too much” and we “don’t like being told what to do”. I call bullshit once again. There may be small pockets of Covid deniers in the country, or those who consider wearing face masks to protect ourselves and others is either a fallacy or an infringement on our civil liberties, but they are very much in the minority.
The majority of us just want to get through this and will do whatever it takes to do so.
What’s needed here is clear and consistent messaging, and (and I can’t believe I’m about to type these words) strong and stable leadership.
What we’re getting is the absolute opposite.
For once, I agree with Phil and the boys:
In non-Covid related news, it was announced that Brexit – ah, Brexit! Remember those heady days when this was all we had to worry about? – and the additonal paperwork which every vehicle will need to have (and have checked) will cause queues of approximately 7000 lorries per day at channel ports. Give or take, that’s 700 miles of tailbacks. And the solution? More staff, presumably. But no: a new internal border in Kent. Genius. Say what you like about Boris’ “oven-ready” deal: we never expected it to lead to the annexing of Kent.
Oh, and the software needed to control the borders won’t be ready until May 2021, months after it’s needed.
And the same applies for the border with Northern Ireland he assured us wasn’t going to happen.
But it’s okay, Boris has a master-plan: all we have to do is pass new legislation which allows us to renege on the Withdrawal Agreement he signed with the EU less than a year ago – which, for those of you with short memories, was forced through Parliament in record time because, it was argued, there was no need to examine the detail of the agreement. “We would never have agreed to this had we bothered to read it first time around” the likes of Ian Duncan Smith exclaimed. (Still no sign of Mark Francois. Funny, that)
And our Premier agreed – and he claims to have written the fecking thing – hence the Internal Market Bill, which has got through two readings in the House of Commons, and which – amongst other things, such as grabbing power back from our devolved nations, and throwing the Good Friday Agreement out the window, so it’ll be a big 70s welcome back to sectarian violence in Ireland – permits us to renege on the Withdrawal Agreement, all of which is of course, in breach of international law.
Here’s Ed Miliband, standing in for Labour Leader Kier Starmer when he was self-isolating, still sounding like an Aardman Animations character, but giving Johnson a proper what-for at PMQs:
If only he could have managed to eat a bacon sandwich properly.
But, of course, it is the EU who are being painted as the unreasonable ones now. Does anyone actually buy that? How outrageous that they might insist on us sticking to an agreement we agreed to only last year, the manipulative bastards.
What this does, of course, is send out a very clear message to all of those countries with whom we are currently negotiating new trade deals (to replace the perfectly good one we had via the EU): Britain can’t be trusted.
Who haven’t I mentioned yet?
You know it: Home Secretary, Priti Patel.
Obsessed with her desire to send any asylum seekers (she continues to call them illegal immigrants, even though they are not) elsewhere, this week two proposed plans were leaked to the press. The first was that we should send them all to the Ascension Islands (hello Australia! Does this sound familiar?), the second was that we should contain them on boats moored off-shore whilst their applications were considered.
Just to clarify the hard-line Patel allegedly proposed: we remove them from the dangerous craft on which they had paddled their way here and either relocate them to an isolated volcanic island, about 1,600 kilometres from the coast of Africa and 2,250 kilometres from the coast of Brazil, or we put them in a much bigger and safer ship than they had been used to thus far.
Or – and this may seem radical – maybe, since they’ve done nothing wrong, we could treat them like humans and let them in whilst their applications are processed. maybe even let them work a little, pay their taxes and National Insurance contributions, to make up at least some of the money the Government seems determined to – and I quote – “spaff up the walls” on Covid and Brexit.
I heard a government minister – sadly, I didn’t catch his name – being interviewed and asked whether these suggestions were true. His answer was that he ‘wouldn’t comment on leaks’. Which is Politician Speak for “Yes, it’s true, but it’s a bit embarrassing so I’d rather you didn’t press me on this.”
One wonders just how persuasive Patel is for these nonsense ideas to be even considered, let alone leaked. With apologies to you all, not least to The Robster for the tarring of a great record with debase connotations:
And don’t even get me started on the US elections, which given the developments over the last 24 hours, I’m steering clear of. I’d hate to speak ill of the dead (until they’re actually dead, and then it’s fair game. Fingers crossed!).
I know I have often moaned in the past about how time-consuming it is to write The Chain, but this morning, at around 2am, having put off writing it every day this week, it suddenly occured to me that there are three reasons why it takes me so long:
1. You won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t own every record that gets suggested, so I have to track down a copy to post here. I quite enjoy this aspect, as it goes;
2. As I’m going through all of your suggestions, I put all the songs on a playlist so I can familiarise myself with them, and hopefully come up with either some decent jokes (I’ll let you be the judge of how succcesful I am with that) and/or some funny video clips to include in the post. This latter aspect, as I’m sure you can imagine, often leads me down a YouTube rabbithole. That said, I quite enjoy this aspect too;
3. For practically every song you suggest, I manage to think of at least one more to link to either the source record, or your suggestion. That’s not meant to sound like a boast, more a statement of fact: people who write music-based blogs tend to know quite a lot of records. I try to exert some kind of control over the amount of my own suggestions I include but sometimes I just can’t resist. I really like this aspect as well.
So next time I moan about what a pain it is to write The Chain, ignore me. Once I get going on it, I bloody love it.
As can be seen by the amount of suggestions I’ve made this time.
And that’s despite the source record being, in my opinion, one of the worst singles by – well, I’m not going to say the worst bands, not when Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay are both things – but certainly by a band that I don’t much care for.
In case you’ve forgotten, said source record this time around was this:
As usual, the suggestions can be split into categories, one for each word: ‘U2’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Day’, with a few tangents thrown in for good measure.
We’ll save the vitriol of links to U2 for later I think, so let’s start with a suggestion from PhonicPat:
“[Beautiful Day] is from their ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album which leads nicely to…:”
Over to C from Sun Dried Sparrows to kick off all the nominations linked to the word ‘Day’ and complete the cleansing of the palate:
“I think ‘keeping it simple’ will be my mantra from now on, so… Beautiful Day takes me to beautiful Days. I’ve just been through your back pages and I couldn’t see Kirsty MacColl’s sublime cover version appearing here before, so can we have that one please?”
Next up is a clutch of suggestions/songs mentioned in passing – which you all know I can’t resist – from Kay. For those of you who don’t know, Kay is my manager at work, but also a friend. She, too, wants to keep things simple:
“I’m a simple soul [I’m saying nothing – Ed], so I immediately started thinking of songs about a particular day of the week. First thought was…”:
“…then remembered [Look out, folks, she’s off. Experience tells me to get comfy and look like you’re paying attention – Ed] Foals had a song called Sunday, and I thought I would choose that, so you’d have to post it (much to your disgust)…”
Allow me to explain that “much to your disgust” comment: I’m not a Foals fan. I don’t dislike them either, to be honest. I just find them a bit “meh”. I don’t understand why anyone would want to pay money to go and see them, unless they need to pick up a new Yasser Arafat-type scarf from the merchandise stall, that is.
Anyway, carry on.
“…but then thought neither a Monday or a Sunday is a beautiful day. So I’m going for…”
That’s all the ‘Day’ suggestions, and before we move let’s move on to the “Beautiful” links, a suggestion which covers both, and I’ll hand you over to The Robster from on/off/on-again/no-he’s-definitely-gone-this-time Is This The Life?
“Beautiful Day was used by ITV for their ill-fated coverage of The Premiership back in, erm, I don’t remember. Quite a few years ago. The song I always associate with football on TV is Life Of Riley by the Lightning Seeds which Match Of The Day used for its Goal Of The Month feature.”
Ill-fated it certainly was, for two reasons: firstly, given an alternative, I don’t know anyone who would elect to watch football on ITV, and secondly, tactical analysis was provided by former professional footballer Andy Townsend, not from the comfort of a warm studio, but from what was know as The Tactics Truck, for no other reason, it seemed, than alliteration.
Whilst we’re on the subject of football, here’s PhonicPat with a couple of suggestions which I’ll allow, even though they link to The Robster’s suggestion more than to the source record:
“Late to the party this time around and some of my thoughts already reflected in the comments [but I haven’t got to them yet in this post, in case you were wondering – Ed]…More footy with…”:
“…and one more football song:”
Sorry, Pat. I can’t say I enjoyed that one. Worst Record of the Week, in my book.
Now we’ll move on to just plain Beautiful, words often used to describe Swiss Adam from Bagging Area, I’m sure:
“There are lots of songs that link to beautiful – Peaking Lights’ Beautiful Dub has the double pleasure of the word in its title and being beautiful to listen to.”
There’s a little snatch (and no, I don’t mean Bono) of the melody of that, such as it is, which reminds me of Una Paloma Blanca by Jonathan King, but since I’ve banned Morrissey’s solo records from the blog because of his extremist views, I guess I should extend that to convicted paedophiles too. So instead, here’s the George Baker Selection with the titularly-truncated (presumably Ms Stubbs complained) Paloma Blanca:
Personally, whenever I hear the name U2, I want to rebel against it, and listen to the complete opposite. So, like a typically confusing clue on 70s game show 3-2-1…
…here we go: The clue mentions the complete opposite and the the opposite of U could be Me or it could be We; the opposite of the opposite of 2 is the number immediately adjacent to it, so it could be 1 or it could be 3; if you want to rebel against something then you want to bring about change, and perhaps the most famous rebels were the French Resistance…so the next suggestion is of course:
I mean, really I should be awarding myself some points for Showboat of the Week. Not that I can be bothered awarding points anymore. Nobody really cares about them, do they?
Here’s Martin again with another song which sort of links to the band’s name:
“Finally I want to mention ‘U Talk 2 Much’ by Sultans of Ping FC, not least for its U2-referencing sleeve art”:
Which takes me back to PhonicPat, and an alternative Sultans of Ping FC tune, suggested “…for the footy link”:
Do you remember when U2 graciously and modestly decided that everyone with iTunes should be blessed with a free copy of their 2014 Songs of Innocence album, whether they wanted it or not? Well, that leads me here:
Time to go off on some (non-football) tangents, I think, and so here’s Alyson from What’s It All About?:
“U-2 is a kind of plane and another plane become the inspiration for a song by OMD, so I’m going for Enola Gay, which very scarily was a big hit for them in 1980, 40 years ago now. The awful event addressed in the song, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, happened only 35 years prior to that. Is it just me or is time running away with us as we get older?”
And follow that up with an equally warm hand on his entrance for Stevo Kifaru, who, for a first-time Chain Ganger has certainly got the hang of naming a load of records knowing full-well I won’t be able to resist posting them all:
“U2 were named after an American spy plane, the Lockheed U-2, so I’m going with the theme of Spies for a second. My initial thought was…:”
Pop the handbrake on for a moment and hide the jacket potatoes, I have (yes, yet another) suggestion:
….which I’m sure you’ll agree is the very best of the mixes, right Chums?
It turns out Stevo is quite the Chatty Cathy (a bit rich, coming from me, granted), for he continues:
“I also thought U2 reminded me of the nomenclature of German submarines, always beginning with a U, & that brought me to Das Boot. Many years ago my friend randomly asked me, what was the number of the sub in Das Boot? I thought for a second & said U96. I have felt like such a nerd since that day, my friend obviously grateful that I answered his question, but the look he gave me was one of shock at my depths of geekness….In reality I just remembered the techno remix of the theme tune that was released under the name of U96….”:
In the interest of balance, perhaps I should point out that Bono at least seems to be vaguely self-aware and have a sense of humour about how many people view him, even if that sense of humour has been written by somebody else:
“U2 to Stiff Little Fingers to Grandmaster Flash and back to U2 in 3 moves:
There is a story that Adam Clayton says the bass line for U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ is basically Stiff Little Fingers’ ‘Alternative Ulster’ slowed down.”
Now. I know you haven’t suggested it, and I wouldn’t ordinarily post a second song by the source artist (especially when it’s U-Sodding-2), but I don’t think I can let that slide without investigating. So here’s both of those records, to allow us to compare and contrast:
Hmm. I suppose he may have a point. But it’s not exactly the most complicated bass-line in the world is it?
“SLFs 1997 album Tinderbox,” Rigid gamely continues, undeterred, “contains a cover version of ‘The Message’, which includes the lyric: “Don’t push me cos I’m close to the Edge”
So, here’s both the cover and the original. I do like a bit of SLF, but I know which of these I prefer:
Sounds a bit Walk This Way, only not as good to me, no? Imagine the Run DMC boys hadn’t turned up at the studio and so Aerosmith recorded their part too.
Where were we? Ah yes: Grandmaster Flash:
Of course, any mention of The Edge being close to the edge means that I’m contractually obliged to share this clip:
Last ones before we find out what the next record in The actual Chain is, and I’ll hand over to The Great Gog to bring things to a thrilling climax as only he can:
“The phrase ‘close to the edge’ has already been mentioned. Of course Bono and the other two are close to The Edge when they play live. Close To The Edge was also an album recorded by Yes in 1972. Later versions of this album include a cover of the Paul Simon-penned America, also recorded in the same year.”
Now, I’m no Yes man, so I checked what Wiki has to say about this, and GG is quite correct:
“In 1987, ‘Close to the Edge’ was reissued by Atlantic Records on CD in the United States and Europe. Another issue of the album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt in 1994. In 2003, the album was reissued again on disc in an expanded and remastered edition by Rhino and Elektra Records. Included were two previously unreleased tracks: an alternate version of ‘And You and I’, an early run-through of ‘Siberian Khatru’, and Yes’s 1972 single ‘America’ with its b-side, an edit of ‘Total Mass Retain‘.”
Never in doubt:
It’s not so much a cover version as a lot of proggy noodling with the Simon & Garfunkel lyrics chucked in after a while.
I should be careful how I phrase that, really; for to describe them as ‘Simon & Garfunkel lyrics’ does rather give the impression that Art had some involvement in the song-writing process, a goof that Annie Nightingale made when she interviewed Paul Simon for The Old Grey Whistle Test many years ago:
“1972 saw Simon record the song ‘Mother & Child Reunion’,” GG continues. “He performed this song on stage (and presumably close to The Edge) with U2 at Madison Square Garden in 2015.The performance is on YouTube but the quality isn’t great and there’s a load of waffle from Bono at the start of it.”
Which seems a good enough reason to just post the Paul Simon version:
And all that leaves me to do is….oh wait. Rigid Digit is back:
“Forgot to include the story of my U2 branded SatNav.It’s terrible – the streets have no names, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
And I think my U2 fridge is on the way out – all it does is Rattle and Hum.”
Thanks Rigid, I trust you’ll be here all week?
Anyway, as I was saying (he says, locking the door behind him to be on the safe side), all that leaves me to do is to give you the next song in The Chain, along with the way the person suggesting it got there. And don’t worry, it’s a waaaaaaaay better record this time:
The link: As PhonicPat said right at the top, Beautiful Day appeared on the band’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind album. What Pat didn’t say was that said album was produced by Brian Eno (and Daniel Lanois); and the album that this is taken from (Fear of Music) was also produced by Brian Eno (without Daniel Lanois):
So, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to Cities by Talking Heads, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org in time for whenever The Chain circus next rolls into town, in a month or so’s time (probably).
Some of the subject matter has been a tad on the heavy side round here recently – (alleged) rape, the exam result travesty (now thankfully rectified), the asylum seeker “crisis”, my impending colonoscopy – so I figured today I’d just post something dumb and fun.
Before I do, a big thank you to all that got in touch with good luck messages about the procedure I underwent this week. As always, I was blown away by how many of you took the time to get in touch. You know me, I will be providing you with a post which provides a lot more detail than you probably wish to know at some point. I’ll try to make it obvious so that the more squeamish amongst you don’t read it.
I’m going to be spending much of this weekend writing the next part of The Chain, with a view to posting it next weekend, so if you haven’t submitted your suggestion yet, get a scoot on if you want it to be included. To refresh your memory, the source record is, God help us, Beautiful Day by U2: submit your suggestions via the Comments page here or, if you must, by email to email@example.com
This morning, though, a Chain-lite post: three songs linked by nothing other than their song title and this chap:
As mentioned in a recent post, I first became aware of the first band a few years before many others in the UK did, thanks to my brother returning from America with a copy of their 1983 Pyromania album for me. To the rest of the UK (except, presumably, the residents of Sheffield) they were ‘that band nobody over here has ever heard of, but are massive in America, apparently’.
By the time 1987 rolled around, they were now known as ‘that band nobody over here has ever heard of, but are massive in America, apparently, and have a one-armed drummer.’ For that four-year hiatus was due to drummer Rick Allen losing his left arm in a road traffic accident and, commendably, the rest of the band waited for him not only to complete his rehab, but also to invent a whole new drum system which allowed him to continue to play, minus one limb.
So this was their first single on their return, and whilst none of their previous singles has troubled the UK Top 40, this reached #6:
Little did we know they would go to release such preposterously-titled singles as Let’s Get Rocked! and Pour Some Sugar On Me….both of which test my “There’s no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure” philosophy to knicker-elastic twanging point. But love ’em I do. Sue me.
Fast forward a good few years. It is 2003 and I am at my first ever Glastonbury festival. Headlining the Pyramid Stage on the Friday night are my idols, R.E.M.
At this point, we are unaware of what an utter dogturd of a record 2004’s Around The Sun would turn out to be. The band play a blistering set with *gulp* some new songs they want to try out.
Look, I understand the reason that bands do this. The songs are a work in progress, and they want to gauge the audience reaction, and decide which ones need a little more work. The problem is, the audience reaction on hearing these new songs for the first time is generally polite applause, the underlying subtext being: Now play something we know. The band learns nothing from us. I begrudge bands doing this less if it happens at a gig where it is just them that are playing, to hardcore fans who who’ve paid to see them, but when they’re headlining a festival? C’mon, we just wanna hear the hits.
The set is mercifully free of much new stuff; there’s just Final Straw – which appears in the encore – and which makes the cut for the aforementioned Around The Sun album, and Animal, performed fourth on the night, and which is conspicuous by its absence from the forthcoming, not very good, album.
It does, however, get released as a single in 2004, in advance of the album it will not appear on. The British record-buying public is indifferent, shrugs, and it reaches #33.
I’m not saying it’s bad record, but it is, to these ears, the sound of a band floundering, trying to recapture past glories, and not quite managing it:
Thank Goodness for that “New Mix” (of a record which has never been released before)!
It is here that I expect The Robster to pop up and correct me by pointing out a different version appears on the 2003 compilation In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003…
Anyway, moving on….
Thirdly, finally, this, a record I first heard on a 2012 mix album by Annie Mac called, wittily, Annie Mac Presents…
Yes, this is what I’ve been building up to, and yes, this is such a great record, all boinging basslines and sing-a-long chorus. Plus, it’s nice to hear from an act with a double I in their name. I can’t think of another. Except Piink Floyd and Iiron Maiden and they don’t count for obvious reasons (I’m convinced there’s a better joke in there somewhere, but I’m buggered if I can find it).
Saturday morning used to be the time when I would have a rant on here about whatever was going on in the world that just happened to bugging me at the time.
But a few weeks ago, I decided I’d try and curb this side of things, and write fewer such posts.
If I may misquote Lloyd Bridges in Airplane!: it looks like I picked a hell of a month to give up ranting.
Because, well…there’s just so much that gets my dander up these days, it’s a wonder I’ve not exploded from bottled-up fury.
So, in no particular order, let me get some things of my chest.
August kicked off with The Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) announcing that since the Covid-19 crisis led to the abrupt closure of schools and an end to the 2019/2020 academic year, results would not be based on exams, because nobody had sat any. Instead, teachers were asked to use their professional judgement to estimate a grade and band for each pupil.
But that wasn’t the end of the process: the SQA then “checked and validated” the teachers’ estimates, and then “moderated” them to “ensure consistency across schools and colleges, and with results from previous years”.
Which, on the face of things, seemed fair enough. Until it transpired that one of the factors taken into consideration was how well each school had historically peformed; those pupils who attended schools which had performed poorly in the past were marked down, those who were fortunate enough to go to “better” schools, either had no amendment to their results, or got marked up.
In other words, it made not one jot of a difference how well a pupil had done, rather it was the school they attended which became the most crucial factor in the grade they received.
It will come as no surprise that schools which perform badly were, by and large, in deprived communities; those which did well in more affluent ones.
The process, in effect, disregarded the possibility of any pupil from a poorer, working class background achieving above and beyond what normally happened at the school in question.
Unsurprisingly, this caused quite a lot of upset, until, finally, earlier this week, there was a U-turn, when the Scottish Education Secretary, John Swinney, told the Scottish Parliament that 124,564 affected results would revert to the grades estimated by the pupils’ teachers.
A rare example of common sense prevailing, you might think. And you’d be right.
“Hold my beer” said the English Government, and the day before A-Level students were due to get their results (there’s nothing like forward planning, and this was nothinglike forward planning), announced that practically the same process as had shown to be controversially calamitous in Scotland would be used south of the border.
And who’d have guessed the outcome: 36% of entries had a lower grade than teachers predicted and 3% were down two grades.
Of course, the stock answer when challenged was that everything was fine and fair. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the “majority of young people will have received a calculated grade…that enables them to progress to the destination they deserve, with the added safety net of being able to appeal on the basis of their mock results, as well as the chance of sitting autumn exams”, seemingly unaware that autumn is when the 2020/2021 academic year commences, and thus any pupil sitting an exam then would almost certainly be too late to find a place at their desired university, or even at an alternative one.
That “…progress to the destination they deserve…” bit is interesting, because, as in Scotland, it transpired that those pupils who had their results downgraded just so happened to be from more deprived areas; those that had their results left as is or improved, from more affluent ones.
Oh hang on a minute. Sarah Vine has had a pop at the Government about their handling of this, describing it as “confused and chaotic.” Maybe I’ve got it wrong and everything really is just fine and dandy then….
Where next? How about long-time staple of my rants: Brexit. How’s that going?
Well, despite the country grinding to a halt because of Covid-19, and our Goverment’s focus being on cocking right-up our response to that, the date by which we could ask for an extension to the transition period has passed, which means that come January 1st 2021, the UK will be leaving the EU, irrespecetive of what, if anything, has been agreed to replace it.
If there were a monthly “It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious” award, perhaps a trophy depicting someone slapping their forehead…
…then surely August’s recipient would be former Conservative party leader and ardent Leaver – I hate the term “Brexiteer”, it imbues them with a far more swashbuckling persona than is accurate, like they’re similar to the dubiously-named (and pronounced) Juan Sheet from those kitchen towel adverts (but without a foreign acccent, obviously) – Iain Duncan Smith.
For this month, IDS (an abbreviation which always makes me liken him to an irritable syndrome for a part of the body staring with a ‘D’ – I’ll let you make your own joke there) said this:
“Whilst the UK wants to have a good trade relationship with the EU as a sovereign state, the EU has different ideas…They want our money and they want to stop us being a competitor. The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) we signed last year sadly helps them…To avoid their own budget black hole, the EU gets £39billion as a “divorce payment” from us, reflecting our share of the current EU budget. But it gets worse. Buried in the fine print, unnoticed by many, is the fact we remain hooked into the EU’s loan book…the problem is the WA. It costs too much & it denies us true national independence.”
And that is estimated to be a further £160 billion that we will owe them.
Ordinarily, I’d be delighted that such a prominent Leaver seemed to be finally seeing sense, albeit it being tantamount to the stable door being closed so long after the horse had bolted that the horse has completed a long career in dressage, spent years retired on a city farm somewhere and has now been melted down and flogged to UHU.
But look at that “Buried in the fine print, unnoticed by many…” bit. And then remember that IDS voted for the WA and also attempted to stop the House of Commons having more time to discuss the agreement, as well as voting to reject the House of Lords amendments. Five times.
So, to be clear: IDS voted against proper scrutiny of the WA agreement, voted for it to be passed without amendment, and now says that he didn’t read it properly and wants it changed.
Elsewhere in “one rule for them, one for us lot” news, a different vote from 2016 to the one I normally moan about came to prominence earlier this month, when news broke on that a senior Conservative MP had been arrested on suspicion of rape.
Now, I appreciate there is a whole seperate debate to be had about those directly involved such cases, by which I mean both the accused and the accuser, and their right to anonymity, and I can see both sides of the arguments which are usally proffered. On one hand, releasing the name of a high profile accused may lead to others who have suffered at their hands to come forward and thereby build a case against them. On the other hand, should the allegations prove to be unfounded or unproven, the ‘innocent’ accused’s name is irretreiviably tarnished.
Take former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie. Having left the world of children’s television and forged a career presenting game shows like Wheel of Fortune, and daytime TV show This Morning, his media work dried up when he was arrested in December 2002 on one count of rape and two concerning indecent assault. All charges were dropped in 2003. But mud sticks. I think the last time I saw him on TV was on the steps outside the courts on the day the case collapsed.
Not that I have much sympathy for him, especially when a quick bit of research to confirm the dates revealed that he was arrested again in June 2019, and charged with sexually assaulting a woman back in December 2008.
But here’s the thing: Leslie, and anyone else arrested on such charges, can be and often is named, irrespective of the irreperable damage this might cause them if cleared of all charges.
But Members of Parliament charged with identical offences cannot be named. For whilst there is no law that states that the accused in sexual abuse cases has a right to anonymity, Parliament, in that vote in 2016 I mentioned, voted to keep MPs’ arrests secret from the public. It stripped the public of any right to know if their MP is arrested for anything.
Want to know how good an idea that is? It was pushed through by Chris Grayling. You remember him, right? The muppet who awarded £13.8m to British firm Seaborne Freight to provide additional cross-channel freight capacity in case of a “no-deal” Brexit, only for it to later transpire that the company had never run a ferry service and owned no ships.
Anyway, allies of the MP arrested on suspicion of rape rallied round him, arguing that publishing their name would make it easy for people to discover the identity of the victim (who is entitled to remain anonymous, irrespective of status) who is known to be a former parliamentary staffer of the accused. Which would be fair enough if the accused had only ever employed one female. Perhaps the solution is for MPs to join the 21st century and start employing more women. But how many women are going to want to work in an environment where an accused sex offender continues to work?
Because in this very current example, the accused has not even been suspended whilst the police investigation continues.
They also argued that should an accused MP’s name be released, it would constitute a breach of their “right to privacy” under the Human Rights Act. But a reminder: they have no such qualms about the right to privacy of you or I should we ever be wrongfully charged with any crime.
Of course, rumours and speculation as to the accused’s identity has been rife. I have a sneaking suspicion who it is, someone normally perfectly happy to be seen in public or on TV but who has been noticeable by their absence for a few weeks. I’m certainly not going to name them here, or anywhere, though.
So, because everything I’ve written about so far is so grim, here’s a gif of Peter Griffin from popular cartoon Family Guy doing a funny dance, included for a bit of light relief, and completely unrelated to that last topic:
The mention of ferries and crossing the English Channel to reach our sunlit shores leads me on to my final whinge, and it’s a double-header. On Thursday evening, the Goverment announced some additions to the list of countries on return from which travellers are obliged to self-isolate for 14 days.
This led to good honest British holiday makers starting an almighty Cannonball Run-type rush to get home before the deadline – 4am this morning – kicked in. Plenty of them were interviewed on the news throughout the day yesterday, many moaning about how unfair it is, and that they didn’t want to be inconvenienced by self-isolating on their return.
How terribly considerate of them, not for a second stopping to consider that they’re returning from a country where Covid-19 has spiked. Well, excu-u-u-u-use me, but if there’s a chance they might be carrying the virus, then we don’t want them wandering around over here, spreading their droplets all over the place. It’s the anti-masking, “Sod You Jack”, mentality writ large.
The countries removed from England’s exemption list to take effect from 4am this morning were (from the Government’s own website): Aruba, France, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands or Turks and Caicos Islands.
It’s confusingly worded, in my opinion. At first blush, that makes it sound like you don’t need to self-isolate if returning from any of those locations after 4am this morning, when actually the reverse is true.
Generally, the news coverage was fairly sympathetic to these poor, put-upon travellers, which was in direct opposition to how some other people trying to cross the Channel by much less established – and safe – modes of transport were portrayed: refugees.
(Annoyingly, the only shareable footage of the BBC’s coverage I could find to illustrate this comes via a discussion piece released by Novara Media, “an independent, left-wing alternative media organisation”. I’d rather not include any of their content, not because I particularly disagree with everything that is said in this clip (nor do I agree with everything said), but because I don’t really like to promote any media company which has a political agenda, be it left or right wing. So please do not take their inclusion here to be any kind of endorsement on my part; they’re there simply beacuse I don’t have the means to edit them out):
Imagine you’re crammed into a boat that size, with 20+ others, risking your lives to reach a new country and try to make a better life for your family. You see a boat coming towards you: it’s not the lifeguards or the police, and for a moment you think help is on it’s way. You’re saved!! And then a film crew start capturing a bloke with a mic boom in one hand shouting “Are you okay?” at you, giving a thumb-up in your direction, before turning back to the camera and describing how you were having to empty water out from your boat to prevent you from sinking.
We’ve been here before, of course. You’ll remember how the media whipped up a storm when the last asylum seeker “crisis” arose, and you’ll no doubt recall the moment that public opinion changed, when we suddenly realised how desperate these people are not just to reach safety, but to escape the horror and devastation that war is bringing to their own countries :
We’ve gone backwards again, haven’t we?
And then there’s our Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who seems to have forgotten that she herself is the daughter of Ugandan-Indian migrants. Priti wants to blockade the Channel and wants France to co-fund it. Sound familiar?
I suspect Patel’s suggestion will be met in France with a response not dissimilar to the one given by former Mexican President Vicente Fox:
Although, there will probably be a nonchalant shrug thrown in for good measure.
Some points that Patel (and she’s Home Secretary, so I would hope she knew all this at some point) would do well to remember: firstly, illegal immigrants only become illegal immigrants once their application for asylum has been considered and declined. Until then, they are perfectly legitimate asylum seekers, irrespective of how they got here.
Secondly, there is no law which states they must seeks asylum in the first country they arrive at. They are entitled to continue to travel on through any number of countries until they arrive at the country where they wish to seek asylum.
Thirdly, many of them are fleeing countries where the British Government has made a pretty penny from arming, and more than occasionally training, the agressive militia. If we have nothing else, then we have a moral obligation to help those leaving areas where that is the case.
Fourthly, they are human beings. Wouldn’t it be nice to treat them as such?
Earlier this year, we had to ship in Eastern European workers to fill the defecit of fruit-pickers caused by many overseas workers, who were already living here legitimately, vacating our shores due to Brexit and the way they were being treated by some of those who voted to Leave. You know the ones I mean, and I certainly am not implying that all Leave voters did or would behave the same way.
And why weren’t those unskilled jobs filled by ? Because British people don’t want to do back-breaking work for very little pay. They’re too busy trying to find fame and fortune on whatever the latest reality TV show is.
I’ll wager every single person on that boat would happily do those jobs.
There’s a reason for that – and no, in case you’re concerned, it isn’t related to my Dad’s health (although at the time of writing he is still in hospital).
This is one of those posts which I’ve started writing and have no idea where it’s going, so bear with me.
I had a long chat on the phone the other day, and during that conversation the person I was chatting to mentioned they read this, and asked me how my stats were.
It was a trick question, for I had previously told them that I wasn’t interested in how many views or visitors this place has had anymore. And yet I was able to answer quite precisely. Which meant I was getting too fixated on that aspect of blogging, the chasing of numbers. And so I took some time out.
Saturday mornings, though, is almost traditionally where I have a rant about whatever’s going on in the world that yanks my chain. It used to be Brexit, but now it’s Covid-19, or more specifically the Government’s handling of it.
“Now is not the time to be apportioning blame!” howl the gammon-faced who habitually do just that. “Now is the time to come together to defeat the common enemy” they scream in a rare moment of lucidity, attempting to evoke some kind of Blitz-spirit, even though World War 2 and the current crisis are in no way comparable.
Ok. I won’t then. But let me know when it is okay to criticise the Government’s handling of the pandemic crisis and I’ll happily chip in. It’s clearly not the day when they missed their target of 100,00 tests a day by the end of April (goal posts moved: that was what the pledge was, but now it’s to have the capacity to test rather than to actually test).
And that’s why I’m slightly reticent about writing a political post today, for satirical behemoths – BBC1’s Have I Got News For You and BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz – have both aired; I’ve watched/listened to them both, so I worry I may be inavertently nicking a gag or a point from one of the more famous participants.
But the Goverment’s position – that they had achieved or nearly achieved the target – is just laughable. For the stats they announced failed to take into account those who were tested more than once, and included testing kits which had been posted out, rather than those which had actually been returned and tested.
The adjusted figures I have seen suggest a figure of around 714,000 per day was actually being tested. And that’s fine, that’s good: that’s better than 713,000 per day.
But here’s the problem: we don’t believe politicians any more. I mean, you only have to look at who our Prime Minister is to see that’s true. Nobody believes a word that Boris says, because it’s Boris and we all know his history as a liar, a serial philanderer, a bully, a Brexit flip-flopper until the moment suited him, and the most shamefully incompetent and yet self-promoting Mayor of London in history (OK, for the latter part I’ll give you Dick Whittington: say what you like about BoJo, he hasn’t got a pantomime named after him. Unless you count the Cabinet, of course. Boom! Satire! ) and yet we – and by we, I do not mean me – voted the tousle-haired absentee Latin-quoting shagger into office.
It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Janet Street-Porter, but I saw this the other day and found myself nodding in consensual confirmation:
I mean, she’s right, isn’t she?
We may have a bull-shitting, bizarrely coiffured, absentee numb-nut in charge, but at least we don’t have this bull-shitting, bizarrely coiffured, (golfing) absentee numb-nut in charge:
I *love* the way he has to clarify the word “doctor” by prefixing it with the word “medical”. You know, like all those other kinds of non-medical doctors you might ask about this kind of thing.
The day after that press conference, there was a spike in the amount of people admitted to hospital in the US, having injected themselves with bleach in the hope of ridding themselves of any virus potentially coursing through their neanderthal veins. Cue the POTUS back-pedalling and claiming he was “being sarcastic” when he suggested it. Of course you were, Donny.
See, perhaps when you say something sarcastic that is no more ludicrous than many other things you say, you need to make it a bit more obvious that it wasn’t an instruction:
A thought: if someone is so stupid as to think that by injecting disinfectant directly into them is a good idea – and by which I actually mean not only believing but acting upon anything Trump says – aren’t these exactly the braying yee-haw rednecks we should celebrate being removed from the gene pool? (And a big hello to all my American readers!)
That’s why Trump back-tracked: not through any concern or remorse for people self-harming as a result of his *coughs* sarcastic words, but because he realised that only his supporters would be dumb enough to do it, and dead people can’t vote him back in. Although he’d probably find a way to allow it. As long as they weren’t black, obviously.
But I’m not talking about any of that today. (Yes, that was me not talking about it. Welcome to my world.)
Instead, let me take you back to November 2019, when regular readers may recall I had to decant from my flat into temporary accommodation in a Travelodge whilst some anti-subsidence works were done to my residence.
I always promised I would write about my time in this Partridge-esque setting, but truth be told nothing much happened which deserved comment. There was no breakfast and so no Big Plate – sorry, there was breakfast but it was “breakfast on the go”, so a scrambled egg bagel, a coffee and a fruity muffin (stop it!) all for the princely sum of £5.25 per day and nowhere to sit and eat it, so I declined it every day – and other than my key not working every now and then (actually, more now and also then), there was nothing much to report.
Look. Here’s the view from my room; this as exciting as my time there got:
Beautiful, right? If that’s not inspiring, then I don’t know what is.
When I finally returned to my flat, I found that the workmen had literally done as little as possible. They had started painting my kitchen, but gone no further than painting the borders. They had been instructed to obtain new lampshades for the Big Lights in the living room and bedroom, but had elected to just swap them in the hope nobody would notice. They installed a new curtain rail and curtain which left about six inches between bottom of curtain and bottom of one window. They didn’t bother covering anything when painting the rooms, so now my belongings – a fridge/freezer, a coffee machine to name but two – have paint spattered on them, as does the bathroom and kitchen floor.
Along with the spattered paint, several clues had been left throughout the flat to confirm they had ever even been there: numerous fag ends tossed on the floor; paint on the windows – not just close to the window frames, but sloshed across the pane like blood at a crime scene; sandpaper, paint and rolling trays nonchalantly left on top of the cooker, a box of black rubber gloves left on the mantlepiece.
Truth be told, that box of black rubber has subsequently saved me a couple of quid, since for the last month or so, the wearing of latex gloves has been demanded whenever leaving the boundaries of my residence.
Keen to observe goverment directives, (when they finally came) I ordered a surgical face mask, and was delighted when it arrived, for finally I could go outside without attracting the sort of glances usually reserved for serial killers and sexual deviants (I imagine).
Which was ironic for now I actually looked like a serial killer. Rocking the black latex gloves and surgical mouth-mask look gave me the appearance of popular 80s murderer Denis Nilson; whenever I ventured out I felt like I was en route to a serial killer-themed party.
Plus, I also found that every breath from my Covid-19 defiant, mask-covered mouth and nose caused my glasses to steam up. Any spectacles wearer who has walked into a crowded pub on a winter evening will know what I mean. Faced with the choice of inadvertently passing on a virus I don’t think I have or accidentally walking out into the middle of the road and the path of an oncoming bus, I chose the former.
And let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, that if there’s one thing worse than the disapproving looks you get for not wearing a surgical mask at all in public during pandemic times, it’s the looks you get for obviously having a mask but electing to wear it slung casually loose around your neck, rather than in place in front of your wheezing breath orifices.
I’m reminded of Rhod Gilbert’s encounter with the travelling chef on a train:
Time for an appropriate tune: Tina Turner’s Steamy Windows springs to mind, but I bloody hate that song, so instead, this:
I got quite excited the other day, when I went into my Drafts folder and saw this title.
“Zut alors!” I exclaimed, thinking that I must have at the very least started writing the next installment of The Chain. And that I was French or German or whatever that language is.
But no, my laziness and ineptitude was laid out there before me, for all I had done was write the title, and that was it. Classic me, if my deadline nightmares are anything to go by.
Anyway, hello, and welcome back to the latest in what is turning out to be an increasingly infuriating occasional series: The Chain.
But at least it’s here, right? We all need distractions and things to think about at the moment, things to fill the time, and surely there’s no finer way to spend some time than reading what folks from all around the world can link to one particular song. It’s what Covid-19 was invented for, surely.
A brief reminder for those new to the shnizz we get up to here: we’re working our way through the songs played on The Chain section of Radcliffe & Maconie’s 6Music show, coming up with alternative suggestions, and listening to them all instead of just the one (Mrs Wembley). 80s sitcom gag, there, to help you acclimatise to the level of writing you can expect should you venture further.
I used to write these once a week, but then couldn’t be arsed lacked inspiration for a year or so, brought it back and suddenly find myself wondering where the days/weeks have gone and how it’s got to the point where I really should have written it by now has arrived.
Anyway, blah blah blah poor old me….let’s be off.
This episode, just to be different, we’re not going to start with the source record from last time. Well not quite, anyway.
No, instead, we’re going start with the first part of one of Rol from My Top Ten‘s suggestions:
The album version of Tubthumping opens with an inspirational quote from the great Pete Postlethwaite, taken from the movie ‘Brassed Off’…
Dammit, it’s done my head in for years trying to remember where I recognised that from! Cheers, Rol!
Before we go any further with Rol’s suggestion, I’ll hand you over to one of the two people who insist on emailing me (which is fine, by the way) their suggestions rather than popping them in the Comments section:
You may recall that last time out The Great Gog got a little obsessed with the county of Hampshire. And rightly so: if Hampshire had a church steeple with a 123-metre spire, then them pesky Ruskies would be queuing up to smear Novochok all over it and any corporate Italian restaurant chain in the immediate vicinity (I’m nothing if not topical).
Anyway, things don’t appear to have changed much in the Land of the Gog:
The album containing Tubthumping is Tubthumper.
Thumper is a rabbit in the animated film Bambi.
There are lots of cartoon rabbits in the animated film Watership Down.
Watership Down is set in some Hampshire fields – which could take us all the way back…
Is it too early to be handing out points for Comments Showboating? I think not: POINTS!
By the way, I’m not going to post the Points Table every time I write one of these, as nothing much will change from one post to another. It’d be like looking at any sports league table over the past four weeks. I’ll update things and do it every couple of posts or so.
Or…The Great Gog continues…stretching the link to breaking point (You’re by no means the worst cuplrit, fill your boots)…given my ramblings above…[this] would seem appropriate:
Next up, over to The Robster from the annoyingly still dormant Is This the Life blog who offers this:
All I could come up with is Get Up by R.E.M. but I’m sure I can come up with something else given time. Probably got, what, 18 months before the next installment? which is a bit rich, coming from the man who only posts anything at the end of the year. Go on click that link to his blog, let’s see if we can’t get him back in action. Your country needs you, Rob!
I posted the album version of this song not so long ago in my I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays series, so here’s a slightly different version, a live one, which pops up as one of the bonus tracks on the Collector’s Edition of the Shiny Happy People CD single.
But since the band themselves have practically disowned that single (guitarist Peter Buck once described it as “relentlessly upbeat” and also said “If we did one of those per record, I could see how it could get a little embarrassing”) maybe we should too; it’s notable for it’s absence from many of the Greatest Hits compilations, despite it being their =4th biggest hit in the UK (after, in reverse order: Leaving New York (#5), E-Bow The Letter (#4) and The Great Beyond (#3))
They weren’t so embarrased by it that they declined to do this, though (and who could blame them: would you turn down the chance to appear with the Muppets on Sesame Street???)
I love that the female vocalist is a Muppet who looks like Kate Pierson from The B-52s who, as you all know, provided the additional vocals on the single.
But I digress: this version is neither the album version nor the tucked-away-on-a-limited-edition-CD single version, but one I *coughs* obtained from a long gone and much missed blog called (I think…) The Independence of Tractors (long-time bloggers and blog followers may be able to jog my memory….I’m thinking of featuring this soon and would like to accredit, so if anyone has any info….y’know….), who once posted the whole of the band’s Tourfilm DVD as a series of mp3s:
I got a bit worried when you mentioned Jarvis and his controversial stunt at the Brits as I remember whose expense it was at. But no, it was our friendly water boys who if I remember correctly soaked Two Jags Prescott. Sticking to my Scottish band theme I’m therefore going to go with The Waterboys for the next link and sticking with my “water” theme in this comments box, the song….
Since we’re on Prescott, indulge me for a moment with my two favourite clips involving him. The first isn’t really about him, but it is from a documentary he made back in 2008 called Prescott – The Class System And Me:
I guarantee you, she voted Brexit.
And then there’s this notorious clip:
In his defence: a) what would you do if someone chucked an egg at you? and b) later (admittedly when he’d had time to get someone else to write a witty response think of something clever to say, he came up with this: “Well, Tony Blair asked me to go out and connect with the electorate….”
Anyway, that leads me to my next suggestion of the week:
Over now to Martin from New Amusements who proffers this Prescott related…um… jewel, I guess:
Like George, I’m going with a John Prescott connection, but hope to craft mine into a Double Linker. Yes, Danbert Nobacon once up-ended an ice-bucket over John Prescott at the Brits, but John Prescott was also memorably once replaced on ‘Have I Got News For You’ with a tub of lard, so I can surely claim a double link to Tubthumping for anything lard-related, so I’ll pitch:
He’s not done yet: …which, lest we forget, featured Marc “Lard” Riley. Since this is also about drinking, much like Chumbawumba’s chorus, could this be a Triple Linker? And maybe a point for worst suggestion of the week?
I don’t think I can refuse, can I, dear reader? It’s unquestionably the worst record of the week (POINT!) and he has managed to get a triple link out of this, the first time this has happened as far as I can recall (Ermmmm…points, I guess….).
I think we need to cleanse our palate a little, and remind ourselves that Martin could easily have dodged the sub-Barron Knights tosh that is The Shirehorses by referencing it and then directing us to this:
If that’s not a double-linker, than I don’t know what is.
Well, yes, Yes it is. POINTS!
Anyway, for continuity purposes, take a step back. If You Tolerate This… was the band’s first #1 single in the UK (I’m sure this can all be traced back to a shared cheese salad…) and it contains the line “Well, if I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists”, which leads me to another draft post of mine which I never got round to finishing. And neither Chas nor Dave are anywhere in sight.
This one even had a semi-clever title: “You’re Not The One For Me, Fascist”.
I’ll hand over to the ever wonderful Charity Chic to explain:
Chumbawumba recorded a song with Credit to the Nation called ‘The Day the Nazi Died’…
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t allow a suggestion which was simply “X recorded the source record, and they also recorded this”, but since this was a collaboration with the frankly quite marvellous Credit to the Nation, I’ll let it slide.
Plus: Charity Chic has a point to make:
….Morrissey (who may or may not be a Nazi) – he continues (“Not my words, the words of Top Gear car magazine!”) had a song called:
…And he is a bit of a tub these days who could probably do with a good thumping…Charity Chic signs off.
Just in case you’re not sure what CC is banging on about, or on which side of the fence you should be sitting when it comes to the whole “Is Morrissey a racist?” question, well I’ll leave you to make your own mind up.
And here to help you is a picture of him performing live on The Jimmy Fallon Show in May 2019:
And here’s a close-up of the badge he’s wearing on his lapel:
In case you’re not familiar with it, and I hope you’re not, that is a For Britain badge.
For Britain are not nice people.
Oh my, indeed.
Here’s my rule of thumb when it comes to Morrissey, which you are welcome to adopt: yes, when he was in The Smiths he made some inflammatory comments in interviews, but none of them leaked into his lyrics. Since The Smiths split and he went solo, they have. Regularly.
So: The Smiths – fine to still express love and admiration; Morrissey solo – tread carefully.
Which leads me to a suggestion from Jules of Music From Magazines fame, which *checks notes* I’m disqualifying becuase *checks notes*…well, I’m not sure why to be honest, but I am and that’s that:
Carrying on with the high five, Mel Brooks ‘Hitler Rap’
Ah now, I remember; in response to Charity Chic’s anti-Moz post, Jules responded: A high five for that and I don’t think that’s enough to allow it.
Yes, I am a strict Taskmaster, and yes, Greg Davies, watch your back!
What else have you got, Jules?
As I am a tad partial to a cider drink or eight anything I suggest at closing time will make sense….
Well, long time readers of The Chain will know that certain things crop up repeatedly. For sure is eggs is eggs, someone will suggest either a record by The Clash or Bruce Springsteen just to annoy George, and Jules will suggest something by Lambchop.
No, not that Lambchop….
So let’s unclasp the shackles and let Jules free; I have to say that I almost rejected all that you are about to enjoy, until I thought about his first suggestion a little harder:
Any crossword fan would see the anagram “wham bam Cuba” and the country’s name was nailed by the Gibson Brothers:
Now, let’s be honest: every time we’re unlucky enough to hear that, all we can really think of is this:
…Dave Grohl left the drum stool, strapped on a guitar and became Mr Foo…which sounds like a George Formby record (“Oh Mr Foo, what shall I do…? A niche joke, I know), but I’ve gone off at enough tangents, so we’ll leave that.
This song has featured in The Chain before so strictly speaking should be disqualified, but looking back I see that both this and The Rezillos version were suggsted at the same time, and, unable to choose between the two, I posted both. So I’ll let this slide too…but only so I can post my favourite record about somebody getting their head kicked in:
…link being Chumbawamba covered this on the “Fuck EMI” compilation.
Which leads me back to The Robster, who hasn’t quite had the eighteen months he ribbed me with earlier to think things over, but nonetheless has returned with this:
I remember when Tubthumping came out, it was released on EMI *shock-horror* a filthy major label. The band was deluged with accusations of selling out and going back on its DIY ethos. But one of the reasons they signed to EMI was because previous label One Little Indian rejected the ‘Tubthumper’ album as they didn’t like its sound. The band subsequently signed to EMI as “…experience had taught us that in a capitalist environment almost every record company operates on capitalist principles. Our previous record label One Little Indian didn’t have the evil symbolic significance of EMI but they were completely motivated by profit. Our position was that whoever we signed with would want us not for our ideas but for the potential profit, so we’d battle for a contract where we still had autonomy.”
So to that end, I’m offering up…a song about the music industry’s obsession with making moolah with little regard for the art:
We’re on the home stretch now, I promise. And with the finish line in sight, the baton is thrust into Alex G’s hand:
Of course, a song about a man who drinks a whiskey drink, a cider drink, a lager drink AND a vodka drink naturally leads us to Shane MacGowan. I suppose any song would do, but just to keep the theme going, it may as well be…
What Alex G omits to mention is that That Woman’s Got Me Drinking features the guitar work of one Mr Johnny Depp. When he’s not acting in the latest Tim Burton movie, or appearing in an advert for something smelly, or getting stopped at the border of an antipodean country trying to smuggle dogs across and subsequently being forced to make an apologetic if half-arsed video rather than go to jail, or defending himself against allegations of domestic abuse for that matter, there’s nothing Mr Depp likes more than to pop up in unexpected places:
Where were we?
Ah yes, booze related songs. I’m surprised there wasn’t more of these. Let me chuck one into the mix:
Two famous song titles are more or less quoted in the lyrics of ‘Tubthumping’ – the first one being ‘Danny Boy’, which, as we all know, is the Anthem of Northern Ireland. And what is the finest thing Northern Ireland ever produced, apart from ships (minus the Titanic. Obviously)?
Alas it’s not [I know] (although, Jez, nevertheless this should be a good excuse to include said tune in your essay straightaway), because, as I said, another song is being mentionedand that is ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’. Yes, I have noticed that Chumbawamba omit the ‘Argentina’ – bit (and replace it by ‘next door neighbour’). But this is purely for copyright infringement reasons, I’m sure.
Now, ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ is a song done by Julie Covington back in 1976. But only (freaks like) you and me know this. And Wikipedia. To the wider public another version is much better known, and that’s the one by Madonna from 1997.
So the link, no question about that, is, to my great dismay (because I would have LOVED to see my other option), Madonna’s version of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’.
I mean, love ya for trying and all that, but it isn’t the link, and frankly Covington’s version pisses all over Madonna’s attempt, so Dirk: you shall (metaphorically) go to the (metaphorical) ball!
Brassed Off was on Film 4 the other night. It remains a thing of beauty. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, and have a couple of hours to kill (which, I think I’m safe in saying we all do at the moment) then you could do a lot worse than spend them watching this: it’s up to stream on the C4 app All4.
And that leaves just one thing: the unveiling of the next link in The Chain, and trust me, had anybody got this I would have been suspicious.
Here’s the official link from Tubthumping to the next record:
[Tubthumping] was once sung by Homer Simpson of cartoon fame. He also sang:
Your suggestions then, please, along with your explanation of how your suggestion links to Mellow Yellow by Donovan, via the Comments section below or, if you must, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.
The first thing I want to say today is thank you, for all the good wishes after my last post, especially to the couple of “lurkers” (their choice of words!) who’d never left a comment before but wanted to show some support. The rest of you guys are used to offering support in my times of woe, so y’know…still appreciated, but it’s a big deal for non-bloggers to stick their heads above the parapet – so thank you to you all.
The second thing, I guess, is how I’m doing. Well, better, is the answer to that; I still have an annoying cough, but the high temperature has gone and I’ve not strayed into the territory of being short of breath, any more so than usual.
So I’m not sure that I’ve had “it”; that said, whether I have or not, I do think I’ve done the right thing by taking myself out of circulation. Indeed, the day after I decided not to go to work, I learned that there had been one confirmed case in my office, along with a couple of people who, like me, were showing some of the signs so the decision was made that all in my department should work from home for the time being.
Much as I disagree with much of the Government’s handling of this crisis, and at the risk of sounding like I’m trying to score political points here because Boris has been – well, I’d like to say unbelievably here, but he’s been exactly as we expected: an idiot of King Canute proportions, trying to turn back the tide of a virus with catchphrases; isn’t “Turn The Tide” just a little bit too close to “Get Brexit Done”? – believably shit, the one thing they did get right was to recommend that, if you can, you work from home, avoid contact with anyone else, self-isolate, irrespective of whether or not you have any of the symptoms.
Anyway, how have I filled my days since Wednesday I hear you mumble into a scarf pulled across your chops? Well, with quite a lot of snoozing in front of the telly, it has to be said. But also listening to some podcasts – truly the BBC have upped their game and shown exactly why it is essential they do not become a subscription only service – and watching some TV shows and films that I love. On Friday, I watched two of my favourite films: Shaun of the Dead, which incredibly ITV2 isn’t showing at the moment, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, both of which I’ll probably return to talk about at some point.
Tonight there’s a documentary about Maradona on Channel 4 which is probably worth a watch, along with the final episode of Hidden on BBC4, which I won’t bang on about as I’m biased because my friend Sian (who many of you sponsored to do the London Marathon last year) stars in it, and (she, and it) is just utterly, utterly brilliant.
But you won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve also spent quite a while thinking about appropriate songs for our current situation, and so, well here you go: fourteen apt songs to keep you reasonably occupied
And to start off, a man who claims to understand the joys of self-isolation, but who in reality probably would have sent out a couple of hoods via his Mafia connections to sort out this corona wise guy:
The message that we’re trying to get across here is that, irrespective of what symptoms you may or may may not have, your time would be much better spent staying at home rather than clearing the shelves down at your local supermarket of their staple foods:
Whilst she may have a valid point, nobody is going to take seriously anyone who gives their ascribed profession as their surname. It’d be like me telling you my name is Jez Insurance Officer, or Boris demanding to be called Boris Prime Minister (although given what his actual surname is slang for, this might be preferable), or Clarkson insisting he be referred to as Jeremy Denim-Bigot.
Perhaps, just perhaps (given that it came out in 1999) this isn’t the clarion call to stay home that we want it to be. How do we know that “Alice” doesn’t have any of the symptoms we’ve all come to know and over-identify? There’s only one group qualified to ask such a question:
Now, irrespective of whether Alice is or is not showing any of the symptoms, it’s important that she – and you, yes you – takes themselves out of the loop for a while. If you’re not exposed to it, then you can’t catch or spread it – it’s not a difficult concept, right?
What you need to convince you is somebody who shot their own face off in a downward spiral of herion and depression, right? Right!
No? Ok, so how about something from an album of acts covering/trying out Brian Wilson songs under his tutelage, who are so good, they don’t even make the list of artists on the front sleeve of the very album they feature on?
Sometimes, you have to look for the silver lining with global crises, and I think we can find one here. For finally, we find a use for a song from R.E.M.’s just-about-above-average Up album, for it’s not just ‘something’ that’s in the air….:
So, the best way to fight this is to self-isolate, to avoid contact with anybody else. As a result, I imagine there’s quite a few porn sites which have suddenly experienced an increase in traffic. The ladies on Babestation (er…probably…) are knackered this morning, having had to ‘talk’ to more drunk blokes back from The ‘Spoons than they’re used to.
I doubt that’s what Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly had in mind when they wrote this next song; I’d imagine that a global pandemic and the domino-effect on to the adult entertainment industry probably barely crossed their mind, which is why this plea is so mis-placed. But who can resist a power ballad right now? Appropriate your own pretend microphone now please!
We now know the answer to the question: How do I get you alone? Answer: wave some unsullied bog roll at them. Job’s a good ‘un.
Now don’t take the title of this next song too seriously. It’s just here to add some class to proceedings. Just because you’re alone at home does not necessarily mean you’re lonely. You’re doing a good thing.
And besides, none of us can call upon the likes of Willie Nelson to dash out a quick duet anyway, so suck it up:
One group, if any of them were still alive, who would probably not follow the rules are this lot, who nonetheless wrote this, not their finest moment, granted, but any excuse to slip a little Gabba Gabba Hey! into your daily routine should be celebrated (Disclaimer: they do not say Gabba Gabba Hey! on this song):
So whilst you can’t touch your own face, or anybody else, what can you touch? Well all I can do here is refer you to the over-worked (so I’m told) Babestation ladies and Divinyls, who combined may have the answer:
I have a couple of friends who, over the past couple of years, have confided in me that they suffer from a mental health issue, in one form or another.
I should, I think, make it clear that they don’t have such issues because they know me. At least I don’t think so.
I think they both know – because I have mentioned it here on at least one occasion – that I’ve battled similar demons myself. I was never officially diagnosed with any particular condition, mostly – well, wholly, if I’m honest – because I was too much of a coward to seek professional help. When I last mentioned it, several people assumed that it was when I spent six months unemployed, but it was actually a little earlier than that, but still within the last ten years. I’ll not elaborate further, because it would mean me confronting some out-and-out lies I told to people both at the time and subsequently; they’ll probably know who they are, what the lies were, possibly even knew they were lies at the time. But it’s a scab I’d rather not scratch at, thanks. Not yet, anyway.
It’s amazing how much mental health awareness has improved in such a short time, for were I to ever slip back, be caught by that black dog again, then I’d not hesitate to seek help now.
But I’ve been lucky. So far.
One of the aforementioned friends (obviously, I’m not going to name either of them here) confided in me shortly after we met for the first time in far too many years, at Llŷr’s memorial service, last February.
I have to say I was totally surprised by this revelaion, for they had always seemed such a cheerful old sod, not exactly without a care in the world, but certainly not weighed down with the baggage of expectation, pressure, responsibility, either.
And then I realised that that is almost exactly how many people view me – laid back, entertaining company, very little really phases me. Admittedly, I don’t have the pressure of a family, or a mortgage to deal with. But one’s day-to-day life brings it’s own particular worries, and how we react to them simply cannot be predicted.
And I realised that they had probably been doing the same as I had all these years: wearing a mask to disguise how we’re really feeling.
I asked how they dealt with it, and they told me that they have a close net of friends who they will contact whenever they felt the darkness descend and they will look out for my friend, listen when needed.
I’ve been added me to that list now, I’m part of the network, and I’m really pleased and proud that they felt they could open up to me and tell me how they feel.
I mention this because I’m worried about the other friend at the moment.
Again, I’m not going to name names, or go into specific detail, but I noticed a week or so ago that they seemed to be struggling.
Unspoken, not pre-agreed, I’m part of their safety network too. That seems to be the most positive way forward to me: to know that you have friends who have your back, and who are there for you. We had agreed to meet for a couple of post-work, Friday evening drinks, to chat things through, in the hope I might be able to shine a little light. Because that’s what everybody needs to lift their spirits – a night out on the booze with yours truly! I should be on prescription, seriously.
But that didn’t happen, which means they must be finding things really tough right now.
So I want to post something positive, uplifting, but I keep coming back to the song I’ve chosen tonight.
On paper, the title is everything that being supportive should not be; it’s a “Man Up!”, a “Cheer up luv, it might never happen!”. But leave the title out and absorb the rest of the words and hopefully it makes sense in this context.