Saturday, January 30, 2010

*insert Biblical reference to throwing first stone here*

It is heartening to see old habits refusing to die.

It is less than six months until the association football* world cup, a tournament the national side has a better than average chance this time around of actually winning. As I write, joint talismen Wayne Rooney and David Beckham have the correct number of intact and functioning feet and are both playing exceedingly well. In fact, everything in the footy garden looks pretty rosy for a change. Or does it. No, of course not. More fool me for being so presumptuous for, bang on time and with the precision delivery most centre forwards would give their eye teeth to be on the end of, the massed ranks of Her Majesty's Press play their traditional morale-sapping spoiler and pick on a vital member of the team, in this case the captain, for no reason other than the fact he's human and has a willy. And, probably more's the point, that his cuckolded team mate has a photogenic wife.

I fail to see what relevance this load of crap has to anyone outside the four people involved. We do not need to be told and it is not in the public interest. If readers were that interested in the sordid behind the scenes goings-on of people most of them had neither heard of nor cared about, I am pretty certain journalists themselves would be the subject of most news items printed. Comments welcome from any ex-hacks amongst my distinguished readership.

And on vaguely the same subject, this story beggars belief.

*Note I have used the "correct" term rather than the accepted term for the benefit of both my ex-colonial readership and Vicus. Both of these parties believe "foot"ball is better played primarily using one's hands, a point of view that puts them happily alongside the French and Argentinians.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How much?

A couple of days ago I was asked by a survey company what I understood the word "bob" to mean. Although I'm only just on the bouncy and youthful side of 50 I can still remember the days before 15th February 1971* when a "bob" was a shilling. A shilling, of course, made up of two tanners or even a tanner and a couple of thrupenny bits. Or for some of my readership, 24 ha'pennies or 48 farthings. Some of you I can see are still a bit perplexed. I'm talking LSD, the kind we used to use in shops to buy stuff with. Round here in the almost far north-west, bobbing is what you do instead of popping. It's all very complicated.

Not as complicated as those twats at McDonalds would have it though and now the reason for the survey becomes clear. Not owning one of those television things, I was unfamiliar with the campaign (just as I am with wanting to do a poo at Paul's, which I had to look up on the google), so apologies to everyone for rehashing what may seem as old news.

Old. Indeed. When the cream of Her Majesty's advertising industry, presumably sporting several sackfuls of media related degrees from the University of Bognor (and no doubt MBAs to boot) between them, can't even be arsed to use their iPodTeccoTouchTabletDSLites to access the greatest reference tool mankind's developed in the last ten thousand years in order to check it was right, we've had it, haven't we. They could have at least asked their grandparents. Or great-grandparents if they live in Warrington. This bit gets me though: "research has shown it is now more commonly used as slang for a pound or money in general". As in?

*D Day. Or Decimalisation Day. We knew all about it in our house because Dad worked for NCR, or the National Cash Register Company. We couldn't move for conversion charts and we were all experts at knowing how much 15/6 was in new money (77.5p). The best bit though was that with the overtime Dad earned from converting all those cash registers, we went on holiday. Abroad! On a plane!! And I got sunstroke!!! Bloody new money.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just a thought...

Two items in the same news bulletin earlier today:

Total UK contributions to the Haiti relief fund so far: £40 million

Total amount of reined in bonuses Goldman Sachs are going to be paying to their so-called "talent" this year: $10 billion.

It is often said that some companies make more money than the national debt of many third-world countries.

Anyone got a handy wall?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Green Day

Chaps of a certain vintage will remember Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. Early line-ups featured such luminaries as drummer Clem Cattini (who I think holds the record for appearing on more tracks than anyone in recording history) and guitarist Alan Caddy who both left and went on to make the Beast's favourite record, Telstar, as the Tornados. Johnny Kidd treated the band members largely as session musicians, nothing wrong with that, this was the way it was done and comings and goings were legion but the most enduring team was Fred Heath (Johnny Kidd), Johnny Spence on bass, Frank Farley on drums and Mick Green on guitar. Although the band again fragmented with Green's departure around 1964, this line-up continued to tour as The Pirates after Kidd's premature death in 1966 with Spence and Farley owning the right to the name. Mick Green passed away last Monday. He was one of the most revered and respected guitarists in all of British rock. And no, it was Joe Moretti who played the riff on "Shakin' All Over" well before Mick joined.

Mick Green's distinctive gutsy and choppy style was borne out of necessity. Being a three piece he learned to play rhythm and lead together which isn't actually as difficult as it seems but many, including myself, use it to cover up their shortcomings. With enough distortion and volume, even I can sound half-decent. Mick Green had no shortcomings, he had, after all, even trained as a classical guitarist for 18 months. He inspired among others, Wilko Johnson, whose style is relatively similar, and with that the whole English pub-rock sound and thence punk. I saw them once, in 1979, supporting the Radio Caroline Roadshow in a cavernous sportshall in Ashford. They were fantastic and I do believe I worked up a sweat.

Mick Green 1944 - 2010

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Review of the Year.

The Unthanks - Tar Barrel In Dale

I'll get this over and done with now, if you don't mind, I'm not going to wait another 360 days.

On the New Year's Day I wake up to snow. This is how it should be in January in the country. It is the last full day of my non-denominational midwinter break at my parents' house. Everyone has been very kind and I now have a car that is street legal for another year and I didn't have to pay a penny. The following day I will be going back to the day to day grind of being unemployed. In the frozen north.

On the 2nd I drive home. I go via my very best friend's house in a fancy bit of Hertfordshire. I am welcomed heartily and my very best friend's husband, with whom I used to work a very long time ago and have not seen for over 15 years, immediately drags me inside to watch a youtube clip of his friend making an arse of himself in front of Harry Redknapp. It is indeed very funny. We all go to the pub for a shandy and I keep my fingers crossed that my very best friend's husband does not notice that I have noticed his wife is wearing a very flattering cardigan with not enough wool in it at the front and that I am more than occasionally struggling to maintain eye contact. I leave several hours later laden with the remnants of their New Year's Eve party food and a hug that nearly caused my eyes to pop out. My very best friend's husband shakes hands with me so I think I got away with it. It is very cold but I am filled with the warmth from people's kindness.

On the 3rd it is my Mother's birthday. She is 5 days older than Elvis but has a better diet so has managed to get to 75 pretty well unharmed. I telephone her to congratulate her. In the afternoon I go to Sharon's as I am taking her daughter and her chap to Liverpool Airport so they can return to Norway. It's John Lennon's very own airport but I don't think he uses it much nowadays. There is a panic. Bjorn's passport has developed a mysterious wound in the form of a three inch diagonal knife cut across the cover and the important page. It is obviously man-made but nobody admits responsibility. As I have been away for the whole duration of their stay I am instantly exonerated. I have a theory, which I venture only to Sharon, as we sit in the car for two hours under the landing lights at the end of the runway in Hale village waiting for the text to say they were let through ok and wouldn't need a lift home, that I wouldn't stick my hand up to it either, knowing her daughter's rather unpredictable temper. Sharon agrees. We go home. I reclaim the table and two chairs I lent her for Christmas and return to my house. It is very cold and I don't feel very kind.

Yesterday was very cold. In the evening, along with many others recounting weather woe, I texted Messrs Radcliffe and Maconie while listening to their wireless programme that I was "sitting in my so-called modern house with the heating on and I can still see my breath". Mark Radcliffe said that that couldn't be right. He was very kind. Although I think the house would be warmer if I could afford to put the heating on more and buy some carpets. And curtains. And an electric blanket. And move. I console myself with the thought that my suffering is making the world a better place for my grandchildren. On balance, at the moment I would rather be warmer and let them sort it out.

Today it snowed. Half an inch of snow. England is paralysed. It is not so cold as yesterday but I stay warm because I have found my fake fur hat. I don't care if I look like a prat. Tomorrow it will be -6c. I am prepared to kill the next person who says "I thought it was meant to be global warming". You tit. It's winter.

Happy New Year.