Rant

I mentioned in passing a while ago that it’s hard to have one of my Saturday morning rants sometimes, because satirical behemoths Have I Got News For You (BBC1) and The News Quiz (BBC Radio 4) have already aired and I worry that I may be accused of stealing someone’s point, or worse, their joke.

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve not yet listened to this week’s edition of The News Quiz, but I have watched this week’s edition of Have I Got News For You and my heart sank when one of the panellists made exactly the same point as I intended to make in this post. I’ll let you know when I get to it.

Other than the continuingly inept handling of the Covid crisis, the big story over the past couple of weeks has been Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to ensure that whilst the crisis continues, he’d rather children whose parents were unable to work because of the crisis didn’t starve. Of course, that ethic extends to all children, but the main thrust is those whose families are directly affected by Covid in terms of their ability to work.

Mistake number one by the Government: having acquiesced to his previous campaign, they awarded him an MBE thinking that would be enough to make him go away. But here he still is, being a pain and asking for more.

Quite right too: we’re nowhere near beating Covid, more and more areas are being pushed into Tier 3 restrictions and things are not getting any easier for a lot of people.

And yet: his proposal to extend the free school meals provision for those on Universal Credit or equivalent into half-terms and the Christmas holidays was backed by a Labour motion, which called for the scheme to be extended even longer, into school holidays until Easter 2021. It was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – a majority of 61.

I imagine those “up North” who lent the Conservatives their vote at the last election, only to see their local areas dealt with entirely differently to, say, us in That London, are really pleased with their decision and will be doing so again next time around.

By way of justification for voting down a bill which seems such a no-brainer to vote for, a whole stream of Tory MPs we’ve never heard of before were pushed in front of TV cameras to justify the Goverment’s position, and pretty much all of them gave this as the reason: parents have to learn to feed their children without the Government’s help. They should learn to not rely on hand-outs and freebies.

Mistake number two by the Government: don’t double down on a decision which in effect says: poor children can starve for all we care.

And this is where my point chimes with a panellist on Have I Got News For You and I have to say I was most surprised the panellist in question was Tory peer Baroness Warsi.

For MPs have a subsidised bar and restaurant within the Houses of Parliament. And to clarify what that means: MPs get to eat and drink cheaply, and we pay the balance. I’m sure they’re all demanding to pay full price in there. Or maybe not, given the situation with the MPs pay rise.

It was recently announced that ministers will still get the MPs’ pay rise along with all members of the House of Commons, but they will not receive any increase on the separate salary they receive on top as members of the government.

The annual rise for MPs is based on a comparison with public sector pay and is subject to a consultation process which ends in November, with a final decision expected the following month and the rise taking effect from April 2021.

On top of their MP’s pay of almost £82,000, ministers receive separate government salaries worth £75,440 for the prime minister, £67,505 for secretaries of state and between £22,375 and £31,680 for lower-ranking ministers. 

Recently, it was leaked that Boris was “struggling to survive” on such a meagre income. Perhaps the CSA have finally caught up with him for all those children he’s somehow managed to father. Whatever, my heart bleeds for the poor man, getting paid all that money to do a job he can’t do.

But this goes further than that. You’ll doubtless recall the expenses scandal from 2009 – do you think that has stopped entirely? Or that MPs no longer accept (and declare) any freebies that come their way? Really, if you follow the logic of their argument through, then they should learn to live without these gratuities, right?

Well, as it happens, the 322 Conservative MPs who voted against extending Free School Meals during holidays have themselves accepted £130,780.72 of “declarable” free hospitality during the last (pandemic hit) year. So we have a classic case of “do as I say, but not as I do”.

For example: the Conservative MP for Chippenham, Michelle Donelan, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet she happily accepted £494.23 worth of complimentary pizza for a party.

For example: the Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald, Helen Grant, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet she accepted £500.00 worth of complimentary food and drink for a party of 50 people.

For example: the Conservative MP for Bromsgrove, Sajid Javid, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, yet he received £713.70 worth of complimentary wine.

For example: Anthony Mangnall, Conservative Member of Parliament for Totnes and South Devon, and Darren Henry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021 yet received, respectively, £3000 to assist with living costs and £2850 to assist with rent in his constituency.

For example (a bit more high-profile this one): Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster voted “No” to free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021, but accepted £2340.00 hospitality from Manchester City and the FA.

I could go on, but I may as well just direct you to @grumpyfactcheck on Twitter who provided all of those stats which I’ve used without their permission (I don’t think they’ll mind) and who has posted many, many more examples of Tory hypocrisy.

All these MPs who quite literally have learned to rely on hand-outs and freebies.

And this is the thing, and it goes back to the whole Cummings driving to Durham and then for a two hour jaunt to check his eyesight: we all know there’s one rule for the toffs and one rule for the oiks, and most of the time, though we might shout about it and stamp a bit every now and then, we just accept that’s the way things are.

But in the dangerous, scary times we find ourselves in now, and as the Government vacuously trumpets that “we’re all in this together”, wouldn’t it be nice if just for a second we might think that’s true?

Some songs, the first of which I dedicate to every Conservative MP who voted the bill down but has accepted any freebie or gratuity:

I have a solution to all of this, and I’m with Lemmy (RIP) on this one:

Imagine the crackling on Boris. Yummy.

I don’t know what else to say except that this is the next song on the Mixing Pop and Politics mix-tape I’ve mentioned before, and right now it seems a better idea than at any time before:

More soon.

The Return of The Election Section

Okay, I’m going to hold back the rant for now. We have six weeks of election bullshit ahead of us to wade through, plenty of time for politicians to irritate me sufficiently to provoke that most biting of response: a blogpost and an appropriate song.

Before that happens, a little over two years ago, in the run up to the last General Election, I ran a series of posts featuring records with some political content, alongside others which I fiendishly gave political context where before there had been none. There were ten posts, eight posted before the election, two slightly more depressing ones afterwards; all of the links have perished by now, so I thought that I’d revive a couple of those songs to kick things of.

So, with my apologies to very long-term readers who are now yawning and moaning that they’ve seen all of this before, we’re off, with a song I referred to in my last post, the other “rap” song that I (incorrectly) think I can perform when I’ve had a few. And in case any of you are unaware of my political leanings, the title of this one should make it abundantly clear:

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Oui 3 – Break From the Old Routine

Next, a song which I’ve posted twice before, but it’s such an absolute classic I’m brazenly going to give it its’ hat-trick appearance. It’s an anti-Thatcher song, but since the lyrics are deliberately oblique, it’s one which has stood the test of time:

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Hue and Cry – Labour of Love

And whilst that may be upbeat, subversive pop at it’s finest, this next tune is one of the most hypnotic, noisiest two-chord call-to-arms you’ll ever hear, a record I’m proud that I bought on 12″ when it first came out, back when I was a youthful cardigan-wearing  unapologetic leftie (I’m no longer youthful, and I wear nice jackets instead of cardigans these days, but the rest stands):

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Spacemen 3 – Revolution

Just in case that one was a little too subtle for you, a record which an ex-flatmate and I once bonded over. He had rocked up to the flat Hel and I shared to see the spare room we had on offer, bleach-blond Mohican haircut and leather jacket gloriously offset by his spectacles, girlfriend who definitely wasn’t going to be moving in too, no honestly, you’ll hardly notice her (….) in tow, and Hel and I liked him immediately. One Friday night he and I stayed in and drank, and of course I’d done a playlist, which had this song on it. We must have played it about ten times in a row, mostly because I was so pissed and chatty I kept talking over it and then complaining I’d missed it again.

Quite how I managed to miss it, gives an indication of just how pissed and chatty I was.

This was always going to get an airing at some point, but a request by regular reader abramson60 via the Comments the other day has brought it – and, for that matter, this whole post – forwards:

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Newtown Neurotics – Kick Out The Tories

Ok, so that’s the stuff I’ve posted before done and dusted. Coming soon: biting satire in the form of musical misappropriation.

In other words: more soon.

But before I go, a little comment. Since the snap election was called earlier this week, we have already seen examples of voter apathy, much raising of eyebrows and tutting and “Oh no, here we go again”s.

One of the many things that has annoyed me since the Brexit referendum is the constant message that the majority of the UK voted to leave the EU. They did not. The majority of people who voted, voted to leave the EU. Here’s a graph which you will see me using a lot over the next few weeks:

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Let’s do the maths: that’s 31,553,728 people who either did not, or could not, vote in the referendum.

When Theresa May announced the snap election, she claimed that it was to prevent divisions at Westminster hampering the Brexit negotiations. We’ll examine that statement in more detail another time.

But had more people turned out to vote in the Brexit referendum last year, it’s just possible that the result would have been different, and that those same Brexit negotiations would not be happening.

So, make no mistake, it is apathy among the electorate which has led to this election being called. Which is not an excuse for even more voter apathy this time around; it is so, so important that as many people as possible are able to vote – irrespective of how they vote – on June 8th.

Which is why you’ll see me posting this link a lot over the next few weeks too:

Register to Vote

You have until 22 May 2017 to register to vote in the General Election on 8 June 2017.

Do me a favour and sign up will you?

That is all. For now.

The Chain #28

Hello.

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

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

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

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

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

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Lee Dorsey – Yes We Can

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dr. Hook – You Ain’t Got the Right

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

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

Charity Chic knows some though, and he suggested thusly:

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

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

Plenty of utter tits, though.

Time for birthday boy Badger‘s suggestions:Badger

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

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Spacemen 3 – Call the Doctor

But wait! He’s not done there:

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

This, you mean?:

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The Timelords – Doctorin’ The Tardis

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

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Orbital – Doctor

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

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

Here with more Doctor-based shenanigans, is Alyson:

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

Sometimes, less is more.

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Dr. Feelgood – Back In The Night

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

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Spin Doctors – Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong

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

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

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

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

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The Bible – Graceland

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

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

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Alexei Sayle – Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?

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

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

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

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 The Three Johns – Death of the European

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

Here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

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

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John Cooper Clarke – Twat

I imagine Dirk will be happy with that suggestion.

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

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

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Redbone – The Witch Queen Of New Orleans

He’s not done yet though, oh no:

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

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Jim Ford – Harlan County

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

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

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

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

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

Me neither.

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Louis Armstrong – Mack The Knife

Who wants to suggest the worst record of the week?

George does.

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

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Racey – Lay Your Love On Me

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

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

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

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

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

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Toni Basil – Mickey

George is back:

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

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Clyde McPhatter – Treasure Of Love

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

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

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

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Lou Reed – Perfect Day

…I also have time for this:

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

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

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

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The White Stripes – Jimmy The Exploder

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

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Jimmy The Hoover – Tantalise

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

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

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Dr. Feelgood – Sneakin’ Suspicion

Did I say “thirds”?

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

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

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Leyton Buzzards – Saturday Night Beneath The Plastic Palm Trees

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

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

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

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Malcolm McLaren – Buffalo Gals

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

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

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

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The Ruts – Staring At The Rude Boys

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

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

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

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

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

And so to The Beard:

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

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

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Kraftwerk – The Model

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

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

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

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

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Jimmy Buffett – Margaritaville

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

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Lloyd Cole – Margo’s Waltz

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

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

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28. The Band – Up On Cripple Creek

So close….

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

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

See you next week.

More soon.