Rossi & Me

No, this is nothing to do with the Quo frontman.

I mean this Rossi:

I was very saddened to learn this week of the death of former Italian striker Paolo Rossi. Yes, I was sad when former Tottenham legend Maradona and greatest player in the world died recently – and before any of you call me out on that, he played one game for us, Ossie Ardiles’ testimonial, but (and this is aimed at fans of UK teams only) that’s one more than he played for your team, and here’s the proof:

– but Rossi was a footballer who meant more to me than any other when I was young.

I wrote here about how in 1981 I first came to support Tottenham, and how that decision from a boy who had never even been to London at that point (other than Heathrow), let alone North London, was galvanised by them retaining the FA Cup in 1982, and then my love of the game blossomed as I spent a summer watching the first World Cup finals that I properly remember.

Up until then, my engagement with football had been limited; I enjoyed playing in PE and at breaktime, and I was kind of alright at it, but not good enough to get into the school team.

At junior school, I once decided to combine my love of football with my love of showing off – and, let’s be honest, my undying love of the sound of my own voice – when I persuaded one of the teachers to sit on the touchline with a microphone and cassette recorder, and record a commentary of the school’s team playing, a recording which, had anyone ever actually listened it, would have been one of the dullest 90 minutes in recorded history.

For whilst I knew all of the players on our team, I had overlooked the fact that I knew nobody on the opposing team. This was in the days before players had names on the back of their shirts, which would have helped me enormously. So when my school team didn’t have the ball, which was often, my commentary was reduced to me saying things as incisive as “…the player from the other team has passed it to someone else on his team…and he’s passed it to…um…somebody else on his team…they’ve still got it…and…oh! Yes!…No…they’ve still got the ball…”.

I’m fairly sure I realised the hopelessness of my task before the end of the first half, and then just didn’t bother speaking for the second, but kept the microphone pressed to my lips to make it look like I was.

If memory serves, I listened to the first ten minutes when I got home, decided it should never see the light of day again, taped the charts over it, and told my teacher that the sound quality was poor, there was too much wind and you couldn’t make out what I was saying.

There was one school match which I did play in though, a Boys v Girls match, when I would have been nine or ten, I think. This had been set up, if memory serves, because there was one girl at our school, Joanne Reid, who was really rather good at football, but was not allowed to play for the school team for the simple reason that she wasn’t a boy. Looking back, I think this was to appease her. Gregory’s Girl had probably just been shown on the telly for the first time, too. None of the boys from the school team were permitted to play, which meant that I got a run-out for the Boys team (obviously). The game pretty much came down to a shoot-out between Joanne and I as to who could score the most goals. I scored 5. I don’t remember exactly how many Joanne got, but it was definitely more than me. About 8, I think. Probably more.

At around the same time, I was chosen as captain as Captain for our local Cub Scout team. In our first game, we managed to lose by an impressive 19-0. I don’t recall us ever playing a second game.

By 1982, I had moved to secondary school, where the pattern continued. I was still a just-a-bit-above-average player, but not good enough to break into the school team. I knew my place.

But in the summer of 1982, I was mesmerised by the performances of Paolo Rossi for Italy, especially in the games leading up to and including the final. He played (but didn’t score) in the 2-1 win over reigning champions Argentina; scored a hat-trick against Brazil in the next game (one of the greatest games in the Cup’s history), which took the Italians through to a semi-final against Poland where he scored twice, and then on to the World Cup final against West Germany, where Rossi scored the first goal in a 3-1 win.

Here’s a summary of his World Cup appearances (including some from 1978):

A year or so later, I was approached by a lad I was at school with, Martin Jones, who told me his Dad, John, and a couple of his mates, Dave Clayton and Colin Tomsett, were putting together an Under-15s team, and that he thought I might want to come along and see what they thought of me. Martin was one of the kids who was one of the stalwarts of the school team, and so he saw me play in PE lessons, so to have him approach me about this gave me a huge amount of confidence. Sensibly, I didn’t enquire as to how many others he had approached before he got to me.

I went to the first training session, which I remember being absolutely knackered after about ten minutes of. John, Colin and Dave thought enough of me to give me a place in the team. My best attribute back then was that I was quick, and I was picked to start in the right-wing position. (You can make your own political allegiance joke here if you like.)

There was just one problem: up until then, I had been playing football in trainers. I needed football boots, and fast.

Luckily, I stumbled across this advert one day:

I had to have them, and after no small amount of negotiation with my parents, I soon owned my very own pair of Rossi boots (the Rossi Specials, middle left in the picture).

And what a job they did for me: I scored 16 goals in that debut season.

Occasionally, I would play centre forward, when our usual one, Matt Jarvis, was injured. His dad was a journalist at a local paper and so every week he would come and watch, and then we’d get a couple of inches in the paper later in the week. He had the same problem as I had when doing that commentary years earlier: he only knew the lads on our team’s name. But this time it worked in my favour, as consequently, each review mentioned the names of the goal scorers on our team, and I have no shame whatsoever in telling you that, almost forty years later, I have one of those articles framed on my wall, for it mentions the glorious occasion that we beat in-form hot favourites for the league St Ives 3-2 away from home.

I scored twice that day, and I still remember both goals like it was yesterday. I was playing centre forward that day, and for my first I nut-megged one of the central defenders – who was so feared and renowned as a bit of a hard man that he was the only person on any opposing we knew the name of: Darren Lyons – and slotted home.

The next time I was in his vicinity, he growled at me “You got lucky that time. Do that to me again, and I’ll break your fucking legs.”

So I did it to him again for my second, just to prove the first time wasn’t a fluke.

“What did I say I was going to do to you?” he hissed at me.

“Break my fucking legs,” I replied, laughing in his frothing angry face “but you’ll have to catch me first”

When I woke up in hospital….

KIDDING!

We progressed to the finals of one of the cup competitions, and again Matt was unable to play, so I was shifted to centre forward. It was a tight game of few chances, but in the second half I found myself running through on goal, with the ball at my feet, nobody else anywhere near me, just the goalkeeper to beat, having beaten the offside trap.

The goalkeeper came out to meet me and close the space down, but I managed to poke the ball underneath his body as he fell, trying to block exactly that from happening. It sped towards goal and I stopped to admire it, knowing that I’d got enough pace on it to prevent anybody from being able to catch it and clear it.

And then it hit a divot, and bounced the wrong side of the post.

The game went to extra time. We lost 1-0. If only I had carried on my run, I could have side-passed it into an empty net and, frankly, been a hero.

But I didn’t, and pathetic as it sounds, I still wake up in a cold sweat about that miss.

I rarely made the first team the following year, blighted by a massive knock in my confidence after that match – I only made a few appearances as substitute, and managed just one goal all season (it was a 35-yard screamer, mind) but it wasn’t just my confidence that had gone: so had my magic Paolo boots.

After a season of me refusing to clean them properly for fear of washing away the magic I felt they had helped me create (and also, I was a growing lad, so they simply didn’t fit me anymore), they were replaced by what I considered a vastly inferior pair, which I would describe as “like playing with a Bakewell tart strapped to each toe”.

And that was the end of my footballing career, snuffed out before it ever got started. Sure, over the years games of 5-a-side with mates followed, and a brief stint in a works team when I lived in Cardiff, by which time I was much older, fatter and slower and had been moved back to a central midfield role.

But for that one season, for 16 goals (and untold assists), and for your magical boots, I thank you, Paolo.

This is for you; try to imagine it’s a football singing to you:

More soon.

Carry On Ranting

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.

Except…

“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.

Billy Bragg – To Have and To Have Not

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.

The Hives – Hate To Say I Told You So

What a numpty.

Sultans of Ping F.C. – Stupid Kid

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:

De’Lacy – Hideaway (Deep Dish Radio Edit)

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.

And they’d doubtless pay their taxes too.

R.E.M. – Let Me In

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could let in all those who want to work and contribute to our society, and cast adrift all the racists, the trouble-makers, the ne’er-do-wells who don’t?

More next time my blood pressure gets dangerously high. (Soon, probably.)

The Chain #22

Evening Chain Gang!

So, so much to get through this week, so I’ll assume you all know what we do here, and will dive straight in.

Last week’s records was “Inbetweener” by Sleeper, and the suggestions for records that link to that came in thick and fast. Now, I know I swore off fiddling around with the order last week, but as it turned out, this week there were several suggestions which followed similar themes so I thought I’d try to group those together, interspersed with the remaining ones.

And so to kick things off this week, here’s The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow which just happened to be the first one I received:

“Louise Wener of Sleeper published an autobiography in 2010 entitled ‘Different For Girls’. ‘It’s Different For Girls’ is the title of a rather splendid Joe Jackson song.”

It most certainly is, and you need proof, here you are:

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Joe Jackson – It’s Different For Girls

Wener’s post-Sleeper career has largely been based upon her writing skills; not only has she written that aforementioned autobiography, but she’s written several works of fiction too. Which made me think of this record, which contains my favourite mop-top guitar riff:

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The Beatles – Paperback Writer

Having hit on the novel idea (see what I did there?) of featuring songs about authors, this one sprang to mind:

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Morrissey – Reader Meet Author

Don’t worry, it’s not all bout me this week! But “Reader Meet Author” leads us nicely on to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything‘s first nomination of the day:

“I once got stuck in a lift with Louise Wener AND the keyboardist from The Wannadies. There is no link here unless you want to post ‘Hit’ by The Wannadies, in all of its two minute brilliance?”

Of course I want to post that! It was going to feature in a future unrelated post, but I’m not adverse to posting the same song more than once, and I can always postpone that one:

thewannadieshit83555

The Wannadies – Hit

Moving further away from Wener’s writing prowess and SWC’s stalker tendencies (I’m sure he’ll claim it was a work-related incident, though), here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“A sleeper is a train that transports you through the night – if you were to get a Midnight Train to Georgia like Gladys Knight and the Pips, chances are it would be a sleeper.”

Can’t fault your logic, there CC:

gladys-knight-and-the-pips-midnight-train-to-georgia-buddah-5

Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia

Whenever I hear the name Gladys Knight & The Pips, I always think of Geordie adult comic Viz, to the snappily titled “The Viz Book of Crap Jokes: A Pitiful Array of Poor Quality Jokes from the pages of Viz” which I used to own but which seems to have got mislaid on one of my many house-moves over the years, and particularly to this, which young folks who’ve never had to use a public phone probably won’t understand:

irvaybls

Now, can we all give a warm Chain Gang welcome to the first of many new contributors who’ve been in touch this week. Here, from his frankly quite wonderful blog Is This The Life? is The Robster:

“I was going to suggest It’s Different For Girls until Swede beat me to it. So instead I thought about Louise’s first novel ‘Goodnight Steve McQueen’ which led me to the Prefab Sprout album ‘Steve McQueen’. But I never liked Prefab Sprout (a heretical remark in some quarters, but I stand by it) [In which case, we’ll skip playing anything by them – Chain Ed]. “There was also a book she wrote called ‘Just For One Day’ about Britpop which is as good an excuse as you could ask for to include some Bowie.”

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David Bowie – Heroes

The Robster continues: “Then I went down the sleeping route: Sleep by Godspeed You! Black Emperor would be a good one, but you probably don’t want to post a 23-minute instrumental, do you?”

Challenge accepted!

cst012hires

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Sleep

“So I ended up plumping for The Dreaming by Kate Bush. ‘Cause you dream when you sleep, right?” he concludes.

And quite a lot of the time when I’m awake, if I’m perfectly honest.

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Kate Bush – The Dreaming

Okay folks, brace yourselves. It’s become a bit of a tradition here on The Chain that we feature at least one cringe-worthy song every week. Not because we necessarily like it, but because…well, did you ever hear that quote, which I had always thought was attributed to mountaineer Chris Bonnington, that goes “Q: Why do you want to climb that mountain? A: Because it’s there.”? (A quick internet search tells me that it was actually first said by George Mallory, an English schoolteacher and mountaineer, born 1886, died 1924 trying to errm….climb Mount Everest. Not so smug now, eh, Mallory, old bean?) I digress – it’s the same principal here. So, babylotti, why did you recommend this record? Because you could. Or, as you put it:

“Inbetweener conjures one song up for me immediately. It’s that excruciating dance scene in the Inbetweeners film where they ‘move’ across the dancefloor to ‘We No Speak Americano’ that’s my suggestion, right there. Sorry.

No need to apologise, babylotti!

sweatds026

Yolanda Be Cool – We No Speak Americano (Radio Edit)

And just in case you don’t know the scene babylotti is referring to:

Which leads us rather neatly on to the next suggestion, and can we have a warm Chain Gang welcome to The Beard, who does not appear to be the biggest fan of the show which gave us such phrases as “Bus Stop Wankers!”, “Bum-der” and “Clunge” (I advertently described a cheesecake at a recent party as “looking a bit clungey”, not realising what that meant until the words were already out there. I am free to host the Great British Bake Off, in case anyone on C4 is interested).

Anyway, here’s The Beard’s suggestion:

“The plural of Inbetweener is Inbetweeners. The Inbetweeners was a mildly-amusing-but-quickly-lost-its-charm comedy. One of the protagonists was called Jay. A more famous Jay is Jam Master Jay. ‘Here We Go (Live At The Funhouse)’ by his band, Run DMC, is ridiculously good.”

It certainly is:

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Run DMC – Here We Go (Live At The Funhouse)

Since we’re on a rap/hip-hop vibe, here’s Rol from My Top Ten:

“Literal link again: the only song I have in my collection with Sleeper in the title is Nightbus Sleepers by Dan le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip. Not usually my bag, musically, but I love Scroobius Pip’s rambling rhymes”.

dls%20cover

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Nightbus Sleepers

Seems a bit quiet around here without George this week, doesn’t it? Time to rectify that, with more of his Tottenham Hotspur links:

“Sleeper is a film by Woody Allen. Dave Allen was in the Gang of Four, leading to Dave Mackay of Tottenham Hotspur (their finest ever midfielder), leading to Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, and Ladytron.”

roxy

Roxy Music – Ladytron

Time to welcome back Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?

“At the risk of looking as if I am stalking George by copying everything he comes up with (it’s all a coincidence honestly) [I knew it! You might call it stalking, we call it spying! – Chain Ed] my first thought was also that Woody Allen was in a film called Sleeper with one-time partner Diane Keaton, but we all know that Woody also had a long-term relationship with Mia Farrow. [Phew! I wondered where you might be going with that for a moment there. I was dusting off the word ‘allegedly’ ready for quick insertion – Legal Ed] Now Mia was once married to Frank Sinatra so I could go down that route but instead, in the interests of championing the Guilty Pleasure tagline yet again, I will go down another route. Ms Farrow starred in the excellent film Rosemary’s Baby and back in 1970 Edison Lighthouse did really well with Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) – I think the brackets are important!”

Anyone whose services as the resident pop nerdo boffin in pub quiz team will know how invaluable knowing where the brackets go in a pop song title is. My favourite one that catches people out is Heaven 17’s “…(And That’s No Lie)” which you’ll note quite literally has no words that aren’t in brackets.

Anyway, here’s 1970s not Guilty at all Pleasure:

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Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

Time for a warm welcome to the third of our new contributors this week, which comes from within Alyson’s sleeper cell humble abode:

Don’t know if my other half is allowed to join in but out of interest his suggestion probably falls into the Guilty Pleasure category also and it’s The Gambler by Kenny Rogers – The opening few lines being relevant to a) Sleeper trains b) Being too tired to sleep c) Railway lines are laid on sleepers.”

Tick, tick, tick, as The Hives once said, as did the nit nurse at my Junior School (although The Hives also added the word “Boom!”).

I’ve digressed again. Here’s King Kenny (no, not that one. Or that one. This one):

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Kenny Rogers – The Gambler

If you didn’t catch Kenny Rogers’ Sunday Afternoon Legends slot at Glastonbury back in 2013, you can see it here. Well worth a look, in my book.

Anyway, before I forget, a warm Chain Gang welcome to Alyson’s other half, Jamie.

Now, as they say, for something completely different, and to my final suggestion for this week. “Inbetweener” comes from Sleeper’s debut album, “Smart”. Smart is a word which has several different meanings: Well dressed (The Great Gog will expand on this in a moment); to be in pain (as in “Ouch, that smarts a bit”), or to be clever.

If you’re the opposite of clever, then you could easily be described as intellectually-challenged, or just plain stupid. That’s S-T-U-P-I-D:

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Sultans of Ping F.C. – Stupid Kid

Since I’ve just mentioned him, here’s The Great Gog:

“One can be said to be smart if one is wearing one’s Sunday best. Off the top of my head, the only song I can think of that references Sunday best is The Icicle Works’ “Who Do You Want For Your Love”, in its second line. And it’s a particular favourite of mine.”

Not one I was overly familiar with before getting your suggestion (I really don’t know how this one passed me by, to be honest), but it’s fast becoming one of mine too:

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The Icicle Works – Who Do You Want For Your Love?

A suggestion which coaxed The Swede back for a second stab:

“I’ve now got Elvis Costello’s ‘Sunday’s Best’ as an earworm, a song that’s as relevant today as it was in 1979, if not more so. It also contains the line ‘…Sleepy towns and sleeper trains….’, so can be designated a double-linker!”…

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Sunday’s Best

…which in turn caused ructions with The Great Gog’s working day:

“Whilst staring at an increasingly confusing spreadsheet at work, I’ve just remembered that Madness’ “Our House” makes mention of Sunday best. Needless to say, it is currently ear-worming…”

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Madness – Our House

Right, hold on chaps. Seems it’s you guys that are digressing now. Quick, we need another suggestion to break us out of this Chain Reaction.

Up to the plate steps Badger, also from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“I was once in the audience of Jools Holland, it was a Hootenanny special (filmed in August) but one of the acts there was Audioweb who performed their minor hit ‘Sleeper’ – they had more chart success with their ragga indie version of ‘Bankrobber’.”

As it’s a Clash cover, let’s dedicate this one to George:

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Audioweb – Bankrobber

“As my obligatory second option”, Badger continues,”another song on the debut Sleeper album was ‘Lady Love Your Countryside’ which was a slight piss-take of supposed political rebels S*M*A*S*H and their ‘feminist anthem’ ‘Lady Love Your C___’ who actually turned out to be posho college boys. Either way ‘I Want to (Kill Somebody)’ was a great three minutes of Tory baiting”:

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S*M*A*S*H* – (I Want to) Kill Somebody

Now, since Audioweb have been mentioned, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“Sleeper was a song by mid 90s Manchester dub/rock/electronic and Audioweb, an actually pretty good piece of mid 90s music. The 12″ came with not 1, but 2, Andrew Weatherall mixes.”

Now these are mixes which I did not own. But fear not, I thought: Swiss is renowned for being a bit of a Weatherall nut, so I figured I’d just pop over to his blog, type Audioweb into the Search function, and get them from him, only to be met with the following message when I did:

“No posts matching the query: audioweb”

Gah!

Anyway, I managed to track down the following two mixes. I’ve no idea if one, or the other, or both for that matter, are in any way Weatherall related (although they both sound pretty similar to these ears…)

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Audioweb – Sleeper (Emissions No. 5)

Audioweb – Sleeper (Sleepless In Balham)

Okay, time for Comment Showboat of the week, which undoubtedly goes to Dirk from sexyloser. I’d get comfy, if I were you:

“A ‘sleeper’ these days is of course not only a person, who, like you and me do, goes to bed in the evening and, well, sleeps. No, a sleeper is a spy planted in advance for future use, but not currently active (not necessarily a terrorist, back in the golden days of the cold war we just had spies, you know, for younger readers, all harmless stuff!). This may be hard to believe, but fear not: there is a movie which might shows it all: ‘Salt’. In it, Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, who is accused of being a Russian sleeper agent and goes on the run to try to clear her name.

Now, as you might or might not know, Angelina Jolie announced that she and Brad Pitt go ‘different ways’ from now on, a divorce will come soon, I’m afraid. Very sorry to hear this, and I would just l.o.v.e. to help Angelina in those difficult times of misery, but I fear that Mrs Loser would have severe objections against my noble offerings. So, Angelina, the only advice I can give you currently, is to see your future positively and to sing along loudly to Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & His Clowns’ ‘Free, Single And Disengaged’: a neat song indeed and, coincidently , my tip for this week’s ‘Chain’.

Ah, well …”

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Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & His Clowns – Free, Single and Disengaged

PS – Angelina, if you’re reading this, there is no current Mrs Jez, and you seem exactly the sort of headcase that some of my ex-girlfriends were clearly readying me for. Call me, maybe?

Sticking with the Cold War/Spy angle, here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“OK, other people have done railways and spies. So let’s combine the two, and what springs to my mind is James Bond getting into a bit of a scuffle in “From Russia With Love”. As it happens, I have a soft spot for Matt Monro, so let’s hear him singing the title song from said movie.”

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Matt Monro – From Russia With Love

You’d have to be pretty annoyed if you were Matt Monro. Your most famous record (as far as I know, feel free to provide alternatives) and you don’t even get to feature on the sleeve. Such is life.

Now a warm Chain Gang welcome back to Kay, who continues the theme:

“Sleeper made me think of a sleeper cell – cold war, John Le Carre novels, Russia etc ….then Russia made me think of Babushka by Kate Bush”:

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Kate Bush – Babooshka

Which just leaves us with George’s second suggestion, and for what I think is for the fourth time on the trot, it’s related to Tottenham Hotspur:

“In Sleeper, the singer was Louise Wener. Louise was/is the name of a pop-singer who is married to footballer Jamie Redknapp, son of former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, who signed Dutch footballer Rafael van der Vaart. And speaking of things Dutch leads to prog-flute band Focus, and their song House of the King. a splendid pop prog song with flute-ing and hand-clapping.”

My knowledge of Focus, I thought, began and ended with “Hocus Pocus”, until I heard this and recognised it as the theme tune to Steve Coogan’s BBC comedy series “Saxondale”, so truly thanks for pointing me in its direction (don’t let the word “prog” put you off, George is right, this really is splendid):

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Focus – House Of The King

And that’s it for another week. Of course, none of us guessed the official link to the official record, which I’ll have to concede is a better link than usual, if still not a patch on any of ours:

“…From Sleeper – part of an earring – to a hit from Dutch band Golden Earring…”:

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22. Golden Earring – Radar Love

(Relax ladies: all of the members of Focus and Golden Earring are either married or dead).

So: let’s be having your nominations for records which link to “Radar Love” by Golden Earring”, along with your explanation of how you got to it, via the Comments section below, in time for me to source and write this by the same time next week.

See you then, Chainies!

(More soon)