Tonight’s mix is not the one I had planned to post.
The one I had prepared was a little too upbeat for such a momentous weekend; whilst I personally won’t be joining in the nation’s mouring, I didn’t want to disrespect those that are.
And so I decided to create a mix “on the fly”; I decided what the first and last track would be, and then started recording as I journeyed from one to the other.
I tell you this instead of offering sleeve notes, as there will doubtless be those who think some of my selections are….disrespectful. That wasn’t the intention. The intention was simply to pick tunes which sounded good next to each other – any which may seem to have been chosen as some sort of comment on any recent high profile passings are entirely coincidental.
So let’s crack on, shall we?
(By the way, because this mix is just shy of 2 hours, Google Drive can’t cope and won’t let me upload it, so the link below takes you to my old Soundcloud account. Hope it works ok!)
Tucked away in those chart positions mentioned in my last post was one other single which didn’t quite make it to the #1 slot. But serendipitous times decree that the driving force behind said record and band, Dave Greenfield, also passed away this week.
The single in question was this, by far their biggest hit and the one most will remember them by, many blissfully ignorant that it’s a song about heroin addiction:
I never quite understood why The Stranglers got lumped in with the punk scene, they never seemed to fit there to me. For a start, they all seemed a little bit too old and educated. Lyrically, I get it, especially as another of their greats, No More Heroes, invokes revolutionary vibes. But other than that…nah.
But I loved The Stranglers; when I hit my teens The Collection 1977 -1982 was rarely off my turntable (me and my Greatest Hits fetish again), most notably this, which shows off Greenfield’s amazing keyboard technique, and which must surely make Clint Boon hang his head:
Truth be told, the reason I refrained from posting it back then is because Human Again is not how I felt. For whilst my skin condition has pretty much completely cleared up – almost miraculously in the areas which had been affected for over ten years – and whilst I seem to have survived the life-threatening pulmonary embolism (the blood clot on my left lung), issues remain.
Regular readers may recall me mentioning that after my GP had referred me to see a dermatologist, but before I actually got to see one, I developed pain and discomfort in both hands, both arms, and both legs.
Although I’m no spring chicken, I figured it was a bit of a coincidence that this had started after the psoriasis flare-up, and so had done a bit of online research. Sure enough, there’s such a thing as psoriatic arthiritis, the symptoms of which all seem to tick the boxes of those I’d suddenly started experiencing:
Pain and loss of grip in my hands? Check.
Pain and loss of strength in my arms? Check.
Pain in my legs whenever I go to stand, walk up or down stairs, or just walk a bit too far? Check.
All having come on during an episode of psoriasis? Check Check Check.
The symptoms haven’t really got any better or worse since I came out of hospital: I can’t open jars, bottles or packaging without using my teeth; I can’t raise my left arm above shoulder level and I have to use my right arm to force it up when needed. I get pain and stiffness in my hands if I sit and use a keyboard for very long (which explains why I’m on a reduced-hours phased return to work at the moment, and why my posts here haven’t been particularly frequent recently).
So what’s going on with this being treated? Well, not much.
Whenever I’ve been back to the hospital for outpatient appointments, with different consultants from different departments who oversaw my care when I was in hosptal, there seems to be a reluctance for anyone to address the issue.
For example, back in November I attended the Haemophilia Centre, where I was seen by a haemotologist (surprisingly enough). I asked them if they considered the arthritic issues I was experiencing to be a circulation problem, and if so what they proposed doing about it. The response I got was firstly that they knew nothing about it as there was no mention of these issues in my discharge papers. I politely presented them with a copy of the discharge report in question which, whilst not mentioning it in either the Principal Diagnosis or the Additional Diagnoses and Complications sections, did state that I had presented with the symptoms on the day when I was called back, and admitted, to hospital. The consultant advised me it was not a haemotology issue, so I needed to take it up with the other consultants.
Which I did, the next time I saw my dermatologist. At first it seemed promising, as they mentioned referring me to a rheumatologist, which I was of course agreeable to. But then the course changed, and they sent me for more blood tests and, as it goes, another three biopsies.
When I saw (a different dermatologist) last week, I asked whether or not a decision had been made: did they agree it’s psoriatic arthiritis and if so, what happens next, or if not, will they now refer me to a rheumatologist? I was told that they thought the flare-up in my psoriasis was caused by a different underlying condition, but declined to expand on what that might be, instead telling me that the consultants from the other departments would be speaking to be shortly.
Look, I get that a consultant from one field is not going to want to provide advice or comment on a condition which is not their specialised subject, but this is getting rather frustrating now.
So today, I’m off to visit the Haemophilia Centre again. Hopefully I’ll get some answers and hopefully a referral, but I think it’s more likely that I’ll have to wait another week until I visit the General Medicine team.
Sorry, there’s no attempt to inject any humour into my situation this time. Normal service will be resumed shortly, I hope.
In the meantime, this is as close as I can muster:
Without wishing to get all Embarassing Bodies on you all, if I’m to talk about my time in hospital, as I very much want to, then you need to know how I ended up there. And to do that, I need to give you a little bit of background/context.
Around fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with psoriasis. Here’s what the NHS has to say about the condition:
“Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on your body. Most people are only affected with small patches. In some cases, the patches can be itchy or sore.
Psoriasis affects around 2% of people in the UK. It can start at any age but most often develops in adults under 35 years old, and affects men and women equally.
The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person. For some it’s just a minor irritation but, for others, it can majorly affect their quality of life.
Psoriasis is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe.”
Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?
And boy, does my heart swell with pride to learn that I’m one of the lucky 2% in the country to be afflicted.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriasis, but a range of treatments can improve symptoms and the appearance of skin patches. My symptoms were limited to my knees, shins and elbows, so could be covered up whenever I was out and about. I was prescribed various ointments which seemed to prevent the affected areas from spreading.
Then, around June this year, suddenly it went nuclear, spreading to pretty much every part of my body below the neck line. (‘Little Jez’ remained unaffected, not that anybody would know.)
I went to my GP, who referred me to a consultant dermatologist. I waited for contact.
A few weeks later, I’d not heard anything so I returned to my GP. By now there was an extra factor which I wanted to let him know about; during his previous examination, he had asked if I was getting any aches anywhere, which at the time, I wasn’t. But now, I had developed pain in my legs and feet, my arms felt like I had been punched and given a dead-arm, and I had a loss of grip and function in both of my hands. In short, walking had become difficult and painful, and I was unable to do the simplest of task, such as holding a pen, or opening jars and packaging.
It turns out there’s a complication of psoriasis called psoriatic arthritis, and my GP suspected I had developed this too. A quick call to the consultant, and I had an appointment a week later.
And so it was that I found myself sitting behind a curtain in my underwear, being examined by a seemingly unending line of consultants and medical students.
A week later, I returned to the dermatology clinic, for a further round of poking, prodding and blood tests.
That evening, my phone rang. The call showed up as being “No Caller ID”, so I ignored it, assuming it was a sales call. A voicemail was left, which I also ignored; we’ve all received those calls, where you listen to the voicemail and it’s an automated message asking you to contact somebody about the accident you’ve (not) been involved in, or the PPI you really should reclaim before it’s too late.
By this time, as my loss of function had worsened, I’d signed off work for seven days. I was now due to either return to work, or get officially signed off by my GP. I planned to go to see my GP the next day, which meant getting up early to try and get an appointment, so I went to bed early.
I woke the next morning to find a further ten missed calls. This seemed a particularly aggressive cold call sales campaign. As I went to listen to my voicemalis, the phone rang again. I answered, and found myself talking to one of the dermatological consultants I had met the previous day. She explained that they had reviewed my blood tests, which showed a very high probability – around 80% – that I had a blood infection. A serious one. She instructed me to get myself to A&E as soon as possible.
Of course, if I’m going to describe a song as sounding like The Stranglers (and now I think about it, I’m not sure how much water that comparison holds), it would be remiss of me not to post their own stab at a summer record.
So, I left you last week with “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts and asked you to suggest songs that linked to it. (It’s my new catchphrase, shush!)
Okay, first the admin. The link between Bruce Springsteen and “I’ll Be There For You” was that Courtney Cox – Monica from Friends to which the latter is the theme tune – appeared in Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” video, as a plucked-from-the-audience-hottie who gets to dance on stage with The Boss himself, regardless of how excruciatingly 80s that might look. What are the odds of that happening? Totally spontaneous, and not at all bought and paid for, naturellement.
I say naturellement, for unlike the England football team, we’re in France for much of this week.
As I did last week, I’ll post the suggestions as they were received. I mentioned in an intervening post there was a fair bit of mind changing/dual suggestions going on this week. For the record, as long as I don’t get swamped (which seems unlikely) I’ll try to post all suggestions, irrespective of whether you’ve already suggested something. This does not give you carte blanche to bombard me with multiple ideas (You know who I’m looking at).
You won’t be surprised to learn that all of today’s suggestions focus on the Rembrandts rather than the “I’ll Be There For You”, opening up many possibilities in respect of art and artists as it did.
So, here we go, first up is The Swede, who managed to beat George out of the traps for once.
“Rembrandt’s old gaff, now known more formally as the Rembrandt House Museum, is located in Amsterdam. So, keeping it simple and straightforward, how about spinning David Bowie’s interpretation of Jacques Brel’s ‘Amsterdam’?”
Deal. As I mentioned in my response, I’ve been meaning to post some Brel for a while now, but would probably have plumped for a really obvious Scott Walker cover. But since very little Bowie has been posted in the blogosphere this year (!), here’s his BBC recording version, with a bit of a certain Mr John Ravenscroft at the end, just because it’s always great to hear his voice (and because I have no idea how to edit MP3s):
And yes, I’m well aware Amsterdam isn’t in France, before you all start.
Okay, there’s been much kidding around in the Comments since I started doijg this thread about “Showboating”. It’s a term of endearment, of admiration, for a particularly fine example of getting from one song to another. If I, or anyone else, says you’re Comment Showboating, it’s the equivalent of us applauding your choice and how you got there.
Here’s a prime bit of showboating from the Great Gog:
“Takes deep breath…
Obviously, Rembrandt was a famous painter, one of his works being 1632’s “Self portrait as a burger”. Although this meant burger in another sense, I found myself imagining a painting with Rembrandt placing himself between two halves of a seeded bun. One organisation famous for placing burgers in seeded buns is McDonald’s.
Michael McDonald was a member of The Doobie Brothers, so perhaps one of theirs, but which? Linking back to the Friends theme, many would consider Jesus as a friend, so “Jesus Is Just Alright”, it is. This appears on the Toulouse Street album, and by an amazing coincidence, Toulouse-Lautrec was also a famous painter!
I’m off for a lie-down now as my brain is beginning to hurt.”
Okay, two things. Firstly, The Great Gog has a very odd imagination. And secondly, I’ll admit, I had to check this. Burger as opposed to Berger? The Great Gog was, needless to say, correct.
Just like the Marillion sleeve in my post from yesterday, that’s a really odd sleeve isn’t it? Every one of them seems to be saying, in a Southern drawl, reminiscent of that scene in Deliverance: “Yeh, my sister is pretty, ain’t she?”
I have to admit, my knowledge of the Doobies output pretty much began and ended with “Long Train Runnin'”, but that’s pretty good isn’t it. Must investigate further. Cheers, TGG.
Next up, here’s Charity Chic:
“I’m going to jump on the back of the excellent comment from the Great Gog with Goodbye Toulouse from The Stranglers.”
For those of you unfamiliar with The Stranglers output, that’s from their “Rattus Norvegicus” album, and it sounds like this:
A few years ago, I was working for an Insurance company. My phone rang and it was one of our customers calling to report a little bump he’d been in.
I took their policy number and loaded their details up on my screen. There was something familiar about the name.
“Can I confirm your name, please?” I asked.
“Burnel,” came the response.
It can’t be, can it? I thought.
“First name and date of birth?”
“Jean-Jacques and (I’ll leave this bit blank)”.
Jesus, it was.
I spent the rest of the conversation trying to think of a way to let JJ know that a) I knew who he was, and b) that I bloody love The Stranglers. But I couldn’t find an “in”. The moment passed, the call ended.
I removed my headset, and announced to my colleagues “That was Jean-Jacques Burnel!”
Not a flicker.
“From The Stranglers!”
More “couldn’t give less of a shit” noises and glances.
Still, made my day. I almost wish he’d dangled me out of a window by my ankles.
But, I digress. Here’s The Great Gog again:
“You’ve jogged my memory of a single from Radio Africa hitmakers, Latin Quarter, simply titled Toulouse. Slightly annoyed with myself that I didn’t think of that one just over 24 hours ago.”
The only song I know by Latin Quarter is “Radio Africa”, and it’s not a song I’m overly fond of, so I approached this with some trepidation:
“One of The Rembrandts is Danny Wilde. Who was born in MAINE. And MAINE Road used to be where Mancheter City played, and Joe Hart is their goalie, leading us to another Joe, Joe Tex, who sang Buying A Book”
In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Spurs had a goal keeper called Erik Thorstvedt who we affectionately named “Butterfingers”. After his ricks against Wales and Iceland, I think Hart has taken over ownership of the name. Quite how long he’ll stay at Man City if he carries on doing the same remains to be seen, but for now, the link stands:
“Can I have another go? In my defence I can link to an absolutely outstanding song.”
To be fair, pretty much every song George suggests is absolutely outstanding, so I told him to carry right on.
“The song I’ll Be There for You was co-written by Allee Willis. Who grew up in Detroit, Michigan. as did a certain Denise Nicholas. Who? Well she married Bill Withers, who gave us the outstanding I Can’t Write Left Handed (and the best version is on the Live At Carnegie Hall album).”
Which I think is this version (I own it on a compilation album, where it doesn’t stipulate where it was recorded):
George, if that’s not the version you were after, my apologies. Either way, it’s right up there with “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” in terms of anti-war sentiment, although the latter edges it in terms of numbers of limbs lost. Not that I’m proposing that should be the way we judge records, you understand. Otherwise I’d have to crown “Jake the Peg” as the greatest record ever, which it clearly isn’t.
Please note, I have resisted doing the duck in a microwave joke. Kind of.
And just in case you’ve never heard that before (the song, not the joke) but think something about it seems familiar, it may be because of this:
As for my suggestion? Well, it turns out that mine was fairly close to the one chosen in that there real life thing. I also went for an artist, but a different one, and to a song from an album that many people mistakenly call “Andy Warhol” or “The One With The Banana On the Front”:
So, roll up, roll up, your suggestions please for tunes to play next week that link to “Andy Warhol” by David Bowie. Please send them via the Comments section below explaining how you have got from that record to yours.
Or, if you can do it in 140 characters or less, tweet me @jezbionic.
Or, if you’re one of the lucky people who have my email or mobile number and want to keep your submission private (until next Sunday), then you can use those methods to. And we really should do lunch sometime, it’s been ages.
I already know my suggestion for next week. I wonder if any of you will be like-minded. I can think of at least one person, a very dear friend, who I know reads this and who I would be absolutely staggered if they haven’t chosen something along the same lines as me.
I’m not sure that last sentence makes grammatical sense, but you get the gist.