Thursday 31 May 2012

Right Proper Kylie

I love it when stuff is stranger than I was going to make up.
                          The BBC showed the 2004 film version of The Merchant Of Venice yesterday, at 1.45 in the afternoon. It's news (well, the Daily Mail at any stretch) because there have been four complaints received due to the fifteen shots of bare breasts within it. Presumably because it will have shocked minors in such a pre-watershed slot. Equally presumably those minors that having bunked off school did so to watch Jeremy Irons in a cinematic presentation of Shakespeare. We’re of course talking partial nudity from actresses. The minors in question having doubtless watched the film on the off-chance, Bluto from Animal House style, on a ladder outside the window.
                          I only know about it all because down the post office Michael Praed was outraged this morning, mostly because he missed it. I’m sorry to bring Michael up of course because reading this you’re almost certainly now pregnant. In truth it wasn’t this that offended him so much as that in the same day the Telegraph brought up once again Sophie Dahl’s nude advert ten odd years ago. You probably don’t remember it, I certainly didn’t. It was for Yves Saint-Laurent and showed Miss Dahl admittedly nude, basically artfully, but without the photographic eye of anything that would normally be considered fine-art. Even seeing it today I don’t remember seeing it then.
                          But I do remember (if one has to recall such things) Kylie’s advert for Agent Provocateur. It’s bound to be on the net somewhere.
                          So if we’re going to see anything reported for being mucky, let’s make sure it’s proper mucky.
                          Proper Kylie mucky.

Sticky Dates

I got to go on a date yesterday.
                          You probably need to understand that I’ve never really dated since I was doing my o levels. I’ve never really been single either. A month of two one summer when I was much younger and then I still had fun, as it were, if you know what I mean. But I like being with a girlfriend, and I’ve been with Q for more than fifteen years and it was all two-three years relationships before that. But I’ve never really dated. Not met up to go on a date, then call me, call you, see how it goes. It’s tended to be more met in pub, spent the night, carried on doing so. But for almost nine years there’s been parenthood. We don’t live anywhere near our families, and I’m not close to any of mine, such as are still alive anyway. Hell, two or three times a year I get to see mates, go to the pub, that sort of thing. Otherwise one of us always has to be around doing sprout things with the sprouts.
                          But yesterday and our eldest is away on a climbing, canoeing, rambling, archery, boating few days. And our youngest was at Rainbows (that’s junior Brownies for those not in the know). So we got to sneak off to the pub and play pool for a whole hour. Then brought back a post-pub takeaway, at half-six.
              Man, real life can be fun. Imagine, a whole hour, out, with just my girlfriend?
                          Why didn’t anyone tell me?
                          So I went on a date yesterday.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Aunt Minerva - Whatever Happened To Arthur & Norvell?

Unable to spell entrepreneur they had been forced to find work with Mr. Ludo. Arthur’s trousers were slashed to the knee. Told to dress sharply the shop wouldn’t sell him any more razor blades. Life was going exactly as they had planned; which as they hadn’t, was one of constant surprises. Norvell smiled his piggy smile. Mr. Ludo bereft of a sense of humour understood little about them. The little office he had provided with its empty filing cabinet and single desk was set about a wall blank and ready for clues. It had plenty of the first and none of the second.
Christmas morning and having drowned George Bailey Norvell and Arthur had not known what to do with themselves. They had dimly recalled after each such sweeping up of the rebellious scratch... little more. Mr. Ludo had found them moving pianos for a bare living. Mr. Ludo had brought them home. Norvell and Arthur had been the most feared of those that had emerged from the scratch.
Had been.
For a month now they had been set on the trail of Mme. Roux. It should have been easy. All they did was find such recalcitrant characters. Yet, “Where is she?” said Mr. Ludo.
“Maybe she went to the mountains?” said Arthur.
Norvell hum-hum-humped ingratiatingly, “I’ll bet she did. You know she makes me sick.”
“Well if she didn’t go to the mountains, then Mohammad would have to come here?” said Arthur. He beamed at Mr. Ludo.
Mr. Ludo smiled back. “Have you anything else to say?”
“Why no, that’s all there is. There isn’t any more is there Arthur?”
Arthur said, “No, that’s our story and we’re stuck with it. In it.”
“You’re cretins,” said Mr. Ludo. Norvell nodded to Arthur, who was. Briefly Mr. Ludo closed his eyes. He continued, “It seems very likely that Aunt Minerva will come calling. That she has not as yet I ascribe more to fortune than circumstance. Ever since Mme. Roux sent the little tramp about the world on Christmas Eve there has been some measure of peace, and a measure of life for you and I, who are from the scratch. We even know there is a scratch. Or there was a scratch. I say this every time I call by. And every time I call by I have to say it again. All good wars start with a surprise attack. As each day goes by any attack we make becomes that little less surprising. Now the pair of you - find for me Mme. Roux.”
He left them.
Alone but together Norvell thought on what had been said. He took a pencil from Arthur’s ear and with an effort wrote the word Roux on the bare wall of clues.
“What’s that?” said Arthur.
“Mme. Roux. We have to find her. Probably with a saw,” recognising Arthur’s blank expression he smacked him about the ear. “You make me sick.”
Arthur blubbed, “Well we’ve all got to live and learn you know.”
“Yeah, but you just live!”

Sunday 27 May 2012

Jessica Ennis, Fatty

Fat slag

British Olympic athlete Jessica Ennis was condemned this week for being ‘too fat’ by an unnamed official within the UK Athletics Association. Ennis, typically for such a dedicated sportswoman a tightly knotted piece of string, is perhaps more famous in recent weeks for being not the complete troll normally required by the UKAA.
An anonymous source has suggested that, ‘Contrary to the tradition of British athletics, and indeed Britain in general, Miss Ennis would look out of place emerging from the black gates of Morder, and has been seen in public in a dress’.
Serious allegations indeed. In keeping with British culture it has been decided that since Miss Ennis might also be a perfectly nice person, is engaged to her boyfriend and about whom there is not the first whiff of scandal, a board convened in the bus stop of Sheffield high street an hour after the pubs shut has decided she is almost certainly a slag.
In keeping therefore with the best of British moves are being made to ensure that Miss Ennis when parading with the British Olympic team will do so in Ug Boots, smoking a Rothmans, whilst shouting at a baby.

A Game, Not A Sport

Batting at number four, with Cricket racket

I’m batting fifth behind Terry Thomas shortly, writing this in the shed that passes for the club house of the Tolly Maw Cricket Club. There’s not much of a pitch (it also serving as the car park for Biebers, our local supermarket) and the wickets are chalked on Peggy Ashcroft – but it is cricket nonetheless, And cricket is a game, not a sport.
I love cricket. It’s about the only sport – game sorry – that I really get to sit down and watch. Even if only the highlights, and then only if on terrestrial. The Ashes will ever see me with the radio on and stopping whenever anything happens. A game where even at the largest venues it’s pretty much compulsory to spend the entire day stretched out with a pint. A game where a test match goes on for five days of easy-going to-and-fro. A game that of all others is so counter to any racism and jingo that it doesn’t really matter who wins. Although of course, and secretly, it does.
I played cricket in school. Not only because frankly the idea of bowling in the nets of a frozen December was so much more preferable to getting filthy playing football but because it was good fun. School sports, fun, astonishing. Not like cross-country for example which by dint of just switching off and running I got put in the house team, and quite against any preference of my part. A few years back some of us played hobby cricket, which is like normal cricket, but by fat blokes in a garden and with the kitchen window as the boundary. Mind you given that only Moz and I could bowl, and that Jerry had only a perfect forward defensive stroke it’s still rewarding to think that Simon at wicket had to go to hospital midway through. True.
Cricket demands nothing of you. Once upon a time I would go to Brockwell Park in Brixton each day in a fine summer and whilst various raggle-taggle Swedes would do such things as scruffy people do in parks of a summer day I’d lie back and sneak the earphones on to follow the match. It can be involving without intruding on anything else you’re doing. It’s good to paint to, it’s not so good to dance to; but it’s too bloody hot to dance.
I’ve even managed to get my daughters interested so that astonishingly before bed and they’ll sit almost quiet when it’s on.
So I’m fifth to bat behind Terry-Thomas who’s apologising now in the best spirit of School For Scoundrels having accidently shot the second slip with a derringer.
It’s a game after all, not a sport.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Diana And The Bomb (Pt 6)

There was this boy at school, something of a bully, who managed to buck the easy by being rather good at lessons. I didn’t think then that he used to steal from the smaller boys or scrap at the slightest look because of his face. It was burned all down one side, the skin oddly plastic, puckered about the jaw, yet he had this tremendous mop of hair that he would push back when he was angry. His mother had died from the doodlebug that had fallen in the garden of their house, and his father had heard the news the day before he had advanced into Monte Casino and not returned. I believe he lived with an aunt, which not unusual then and indeed comparative to these more modern times quite the wholesome family unit. I remember that doodlebug. Or I think I do. Perhaps my mind added it because as I say what I do recall is my mother pushing me away on that sunny day when high above that wub-wub-wub of the jet engine stopped.
Across the old aerodrome the sound of the bomb is tinnitus in my ears. There are grass fires on the edge of the crater where Mme. Roux’s atom bomb Diana (which was you might recall no atom bomb at all) can no longer be seen, and will never now be again. I stand here, rightly stunned. Near everyone in Cecil’s private army was there by Diana in the food queue. Close by a ferret armoured car is on its side. At first I think I can hear laughter but in my muddled state it takes a moment to realise it is cries, shouts. There are people between here and there broken and terrible. Somebody lies naked, stripped by the blast. It’s awful.
Cecil is saying something, “... best go.”
“Yes, quite,” this from Mme. Roux. There were patrols and of course sentries, I see some now running towards the ruin.
“What the bloody hell happened?” I sound cross, but I’m terrified.
“Diana went bang, darling,” says Mme. Roux.
“It wasn’t a bomb, you just said as much!”
“Not an atom bomb,” she cannot help but delight in her cleverness. It seems wicked to me. All those dead people might have been horrors, but still. I say as much but Mme. Roux waves off my complaining to say, “You couldn’t get a bomb in here, unless they were expecting one. You were meant to wave the old Geiger about that Bittersweet had prepared and clickity-click, as expected. It never occurred to think it might still have an awful lot of the flowering stuff inside?”
“Is this really the time for exposition?” Cecil though facing us still is walking backwards and away. He at least looks shocked by what has been done; what he must have known was going to happen. “This ain’t the time for boasting.”
“If there’s no time for boasting then there’s no time for anything, darling,” insists Mme. Roux, but she walks after him anyway.
“But why?” I say.
“Trouble with riding the tiger, son,” says Cecil, “Is it’s bloody hard to get off.”
This isn’t an end to it I promise myself.   

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Facebook Drops

The flotation and subsequent stark drop in the value of Facebook has drawn criticism from city-investors today, especially those holding stock. Valued higher than life itself at its floatation traders have been left with stacks of facebooks stuffed in their pockets and under beds, unsure now what to do with them all.
‘It’s... an energy source, right?’Broker Flossy McSheep suggested when quizzed on just what the bloody hell she had spent all the company’s money on. ‘Or food, or shoes, or something? Hell, I don’t know. It can’t just be where you go to see your mate’s wife in a bikini surely?’
Speculators initially delighted at the price given to pictures of everyone’s baby have grown sceptical now it has come to light that people that have their own don’t much care, and those that don’t, less still. In an attempt to reinvigorate interest in their facebooks Mark Zuckerberg has revealed exciting new plans allowing employees sat at their work stations to simply click a ‘should really be working’ button and instead spend their time more productively playing patience, or limply sloping off to the toilets for a bored wank.
Both JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are thought to be bailing on the stock, investing instead in more reliable Magic Beans Futures.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Tea Leaf

It’s been pointed out to me today (by my very good friend Rob) that ‘Muth 299986’ has a smashing new blog out today. Apart from pages of death-thin models he or she has also got an awful lot of very good articles on it. I’d recommend them to you, even cut a link – but since word-for-word and even picture-by-picture they are exactly what you can see on here there’s no need really is there?
I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for it all. For copying over much of this blog, to his or her own.
I’m jolly well looking forward to hearing it!

I Am Not Worthy (5), Robert McGinnis

There lurked outside the pub yesterday a smooth man immaculately rendered. From the cigarette in his hand to the pointy toes of his shoes he was a man both suave, intelligent, and one who could tear a dozen ruffians in half like phone books. About him and staring down their noses as I went by, a pair of younger women in fabulous threads. Impossible starlets, spies, exotic and as out of place in Tolly Maw as blue jays in a graveyard. It was a fine, dappled sort of afternoon and I knew then it had all gone a bit Robert McGinnis.
Robert McGinnis with more than twelve hundred book covers and forty movie posters to his name is everything that is missing from advertising and book covers today. I grew up surrounded by books. Almost all tatty, mostly paperbacks, and probably a thousand of which had a McGinnis cover. He’s the definitive Bond artist, his work typifies the glorious beauty of a novel from the 60s and 70s – indeed in many ways his work is the 60s and 70s. Whilst as you’ll have seen in this series I like the quirky and the unique, with McGinnis all this gives way to the plain bloody-brilliant.
I can just sit and stare at McGinnis artwork for hours and know that I will never, not ever, be able to paint anything with even the first sniff of such an elegant talent. That is perfectly all right because I don’t need to, because Robert McGinnis has done it all for us already.

Mme. Roux Fills In

You’ll have to excuse Alan today, he’s had a double hit of strangeness and gone for a bit of a lie down. I met up with him in the park where today being fine, then by the lake it was a fundraiser for mountains and brownies, and judging by the stalls – ice-cream. And whilst mostly composed of fit middle-age men in smashing sunglasses and small girls with skinned knees climbing very tall things, it also had a core of young women alternately sneering and simpering. The first towards anyone not a local lad, the second... well, you get the idea.
Now Alan’s a chap who whilst not quite the adventuring sort I knew of old is still one for whom there are a few simple values. And so when passing by he heard these teetering young things snap, ‘What am I, a fuckin’ feminist?’ he was brought near dead in his tracks. He would ordinarily have thought, well I hope so. And whilst not everyone can be the sort of rally-driving, balloonist, critic, explorer and all-round good egg such as I, he does sort of expect that, yes, a woman would not consider 'feminist' to be an insult. And yet there it was. So whilst I railed on at them about the women’s movement, about fighting the lazy beliefs of idiots, and about – yes – how they now had the right to be a twat, not because they were women, but because they were twats, the world crumbled for him that little but about the edges.
Now poor Alan has obviously had a sheltered life. The women he knows aren’t strong through declaration; they just are, because they’re people. He’s not been exposed to simpering fools that play the little chattel, and play up to men who want the little chattel. So like I say, he’s gone for a bit of a lie down and the determination that his daughters will undergo a strenuous programme of not-taking-shit, nor pandering-to-hoped-for-forgotten-stereotypes.
They of coure called me a feminist, which I am. So I set fire to their stupid pink car.   

Friday 18 May 2012

All That Waiting

Nineteen and just qualified Albert Vose managed three days out of the apprentices before Dunkirk. School had been chalk and slates and chiming responses, canings and clips round the ear. Fourteen and in the trade, he had it made. Every time he smelled bread he thought of home. His was the well-to-do side of the family. They were bakers – master bakers, and he had gone to school at lunchtime, which was at home when everyone else had bread and jam, porridge and jam, but always jam - at breakfast. Fourteen and with plenty to eat, no board to pay and all else in his pocket he had trained to be a fitter. Which was skivvy work and labouring, tin boxes and easy times when the foreman knew there was bread and buns for the asking. Three days out of the apprentices and the guild badge still shiny, there had been Dunkirk.
Leading Aircraftman Vose, three months from basic. For every aircrew in the sky dozens more kept them there. Trade meant rank, war made it come all the quicker. One year in Sergeant Vose ran the ground crew for an Avro Anson. They slept when it flew and they worked when it didn’t. Posted to Coastal Command Bert had to take exams to keep the rank, and being a Vose what he lacked in the formal intelligence he made up for in the native. If you were a Vose, you were smart. Another year and it was Flight Sergeant Vose and up in Scotland. Having never flown active duty Bert Vose trained men his own age to do what he never had. He pushed and he wrangled and made a nuisance of himself because the war was getting old and qualifying on Sunderlands he was posted active the day before the squadron went into refit and retraining. He met Cicily Morrison, it was the war, and they were married and that made it worse, because it was 1943 and married men went down the active list.
In Birmingham he raged for six months in the class room. He was an odd cog, he had it cushy. Before the end of the year a gay blade he had trained in Scotland was already a Squadron Leader. Not so gay, not so eager, he saw only boys and remembering Flight Sergeant Vose pulled and pushed and wrangled Vose up with him. It was Pilot Officer Vose, in the mess and the oldest junior officer for thirty miles east to west, up or down. And they all had a lot to learn, now with the Flying Fortresses the RAF didn’t want and finally, finally, it was off out east.
But someone had to go with the stores, the spares, and Flying Officer Vose not only the most junior, not only the oldest, but – let’s be honest – by far the most common shipped when the flight flew. A month on the fat old tramp and they were sunk in the Med. Injured, Flying Officer Vose got off and in a boat with twelve others was picked up inside the week. Downgraded and put into the medical it was six months before he was in the squadron again, and more before he would get out of the stores and into the air. To train again, to teach those that never had what he had never done either.
D-Day came and went elsewhere. Those he trained were promoted, or died, or transferred.
Pilot Officer Vose took off on his first operational patrol late 1945. It was a clear day, the sea calm. Two miles out catastrophic engine failure saw a loss with all crew.
It was four days before VJ day, and two weeks before Japan formerly surrendered.
For fucks sake, great-uncle Bert!     

Thursday 17 May 2012

Why The Eighties?

Why the eighties I couldn’t say. It hadn’t been my choice, it hadn’t been my turn. The sunshine and colour don’t fool me, it’s a miserable decade and no amount of Athena outlets changes that. In the front Maurice is arguing with Jerry about the speed limit. Maurice learned to drive from the Sweeney and Jerry in a Triumph Dolomite. We’re in one now because we’re blending in, Simon in his monstrous scarf on one side and Rob in sunglasses on the other.
I say, “Why are we here again?”
“Again,” I’m hoping it makes a lot more sense this time. The eighties aren’t just bad because of the music and the Hammer-pants, but because if we’re absolutely going to get killed then it’s here. This is where it all started, when I could pretty much assume at some point I’d be shot at but still not be guaranteed service at the bar.
“We’re forgetting what happened,” said Simon.
“I’ve been trying,” I say, I’m quick like that. “But someone always insists on making me remember.” When we stop at the lights it’s to the theme songs of the decade, and not the hits everyone thinks of being wall-to-wall but the real dross. The thirty of the top-thirty each week identical with the synths and the pastel jackets, with their jumping-girl singers in ra-ra skirts. There’s a lot of good music in the eighties, only it doesn’t really happen till the nineties. When I turn back Simon’s produced a trumpet that needs by all evidence that follows, batteries.
“Sonic gun,” he says happily.
“Of course it is, because when you’re in danger a real gun simply isn’t enough. It’s more important to make violent bastards shit themselves first.”
“I’ve got a gun,” says Rob.
“Magnum in the glove box,” chimes in Jerry.
“Three-fifty-seven,” they say together. Rob adds, “I bet Maurice hasn’t got a gun?”
But Maurice, trying to stamp on Jerry’s foot so we can accelerate a little, doesn’t answer. He swears as they fight for the wheel until we bounce to a stop, Simon the first out with his magic trumpet and a plastic glass of overpriced red wine. Rob shows me his magnum. It’s very shiny.
I can be a right sulk at times. I’ve really got better years to be. In both directions there is only road and I don’t much like either. It’s a hitching dead zone. Exactly the sort of place you end up without any idea on which side of the road to stand and decide quite quickly that it’s whichever one the next car you see has taken a liking to. They’re in the boot, all of them, and after a snowstorm of pasties is dug through Simon is triumphant as he reveals the invention he has hidden there. Sleek and suspiciously marked only by a single red light that to join in the fun winks at me.
Back in the eighties we gained all these abilities from Blue Sunshine. Simon reminds us as he berates us all for swanning off and just plain enjoying ourselves across the century.
“I’m pretty sure I never took any,” says Jerry.
“You don’t know what you took,” Simon says sternly.
But Jerry points out he does; because he never took anything.
“I took it for you,” says Rob.
“And this,” says Simon quietening us all down with a wave of his silver box, “is a tracker. Wherever we go Carl and Alex will find us. We can’t escape them, they’re always there. Hunting us down, in really great suits.
“Can they not?” this from Maurice who with a petrol-can of lager is suggesting a picnic.
“No,” it’s a Simon no. A ‘no’ with eyebrows on it. It’s a no that does not allow for arguments. It’s a final no, a no that carries its own punctuation. And the punctuation it carries is a full stop.
He’s fifty soon.
And so we wait until the pubs open.      

Tuesday 15 May 2012

The One Comic Post

It’s not like there’ll be much on the Slide about comics, but...
It started with Alan Moore and was continued wonderfully by Jamie Delano, and it’s my favourite comic by far. I’m not a collector. I can’t recall the last comic I ever bought and it’s safe to say that almost any of you know far more about the medium than I. But there was a time when catching up with these from Daredevils and various Marvel Presents type titles, when there was Miracleman, and V For Vendetta, when comics grabbed me. And whilst either of these last two are arguably better in many ways, Captain Britain was my favourite. When Alan Davis illustrated there was something wonderful about the Jasper’s War. With its Bohemian secret agents, with super powers being outlawed and warpies being born every day, in black and white and in episodes that often jumped forward each time so it was assumed you had the wit to keep up – and frankly with the character of Captain Britain just there to be a bit thick, and really... irrelevant.
More recently released as coloured collections, the enhancement only cheapens the story and reduces the art. In stark black and white it set the mood. The very best episode was but a conversation between two of the characters captive and in the early hours, discussing the legend, the rumours, and the exaggerations about Captain Britain. It really sums it all up. He’s there and he’s a hero but he’s not a person, he’s just there so that they can sell the comic to the publishers. As with any good villain Sir James Jaspers stole the show. A malign and insane Terry Thomas that isn’t hunted by the police so much as he sat in Number 10 and passed further laws against the insidious threat of the ‘heroes’ amongst us. Miracleman did hero-as-human better, but still there was a simple charm to Captain Britain that with Davis’ assured, confident clean lines made the horror all the more horrific.
It was of its age, and it was of my age, and it changed so many things for me thereafter. I didn’t even read it in order, but in bits and pieces over the years as each episode was finally found, or someone had it. And perhaps that’s why I liked it so much as I had to fill in the spaces, and I did, treating me like a grown up as it did so. I can’t answer for what happened after Moore/Delano, but for then and for that time it remains with my greatest affection, my favourite comic.  

Monday 14 May 2012

But From Whom?

Did you know that books have trailers nowadays?
I was sent this by a fine fellow who was doubtless equally surprised to find out, Jim Eldridge. Jim (whose name you can hear every half hour on Radio4 Extra) is a craftsman. Not one to simper around claiming high art for every word, Jim’s being grafting for years – with about a million books out, half as many tele scripts and as I say every other thing that’s ever been on Radio4, ever, his latest book does indeed come with a trailer, as you can see if you click on the link above.
He’s also (and as a complete aside) the most tactful and encouraging chap I’ve ever met. Once - and I swear to Cope this is true - I was in company with other hacks and a lot of want-to-be hacks as he presided over a series of example script presentations for radio. One of these included frequent diversions to indicate mood and plot through wispy dance. Jim never for a beat lost his encouraging nod and amiable grin, and for quite a while too as we learnt exactly what is meant by the term dead air.
Jim's great.
A gentleman, a scholar, and quite possibly an acrobat.
Buy the book.

Southern Weighting

New Regional Minister for Regions, Doug ‘Call me Doug’ Arsewater, is in the spotlight again after plans for an increase in the basic wage for the south were leaked today. Proposals listed include rolling out an expansion of London weighting to the whole of the south of England as far as Virginia Water and to a small bay not too close to Littlehampton that has been listed as ‘lovely’.
“It’s been clear for a long time now that people in the south suffer a far greater quality of life and the cost to regularly enjoy theatre, good reception on television and an extensive range of restaurants has been taking its toll on the decent, southern-living folk doing important, nay vital work, involving Audi sportscars on the company so as to avoid having to use the extensive, effective and regular public transport infrastructure.”
When pressed on the basic cost of living, ‘Call me Doug’ adopted the fatherly face of one who knows that for the greater good everyone has to be shafted, saying “It’s all very well for those in the north with their brown ale and Chinese knock-off cider, but with even a moderate Pinto Noir topping ten pounds a bottle in the corner shop, it’s no laughing matter in Chelsea,” to prove which Mr. Arsewater produced a neatly printed receipt for that very corner shop, Waitrose. He went on to say, “We’ve provided the north with generous employment in recent years; the relocating of the Lakes to Devon, the whippet allowance, and the recycling of Hadrian’s Wall into some sort of frightful terrace, but enough is enough. With fewer than no examples of Gieves & Hawkes in the north the time has come to say no. No to barbarians terrifying honest men and women with their cruel and friendly greetings to complete strangers. No to their self-inflicted floods, and most especially no to their irritating habit of not voting properly in the face of all good reason,” then, “Fucking trolls.”    

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Michael Eavis Oakenshield

May the hair on his toes never fall off!

Michael Eavis is said to be delighted with the choice of Richard Armitage to portray him in the upcoming movie The Hobbit. Mr Eavis (forced to flee to Worthy Farm in Somerset after goblins and Smaug the dragon forced him from his ancestral home in the Lonely Mountain) fled to Bath to watch Led Zeppelin, from which chance meeting in Rivendell the Glastonbury Festival was born.
                          “Richard Armitage is clearly the ideal person to play me,” Mr Eavis said this morning, “I was struck by his portrayal of increasingly unlikely spy Lucas North in BBCs Spooks and the way the show made mention of my long lust for the Arkenstone.”
                          Slighted somewhat by Tokien as a grim, miserable, sulking sort of figure Eavis first came to light when seeking to recruit a burgler in order to honourably restore his throne, wherein by kingly might he and his companions would send someone much smaller than them in to nick it. “We never fell out with the elves either,” said Mr Eavis of the walk, “so much as had to beat them off with sticks when they tried to steal our shoes.”
                          When asked as to the truth of the tale now being filmed for release this year, Mr Eavis pointed out, “Go up the green fields this June and chuck a rock at the crowd, trust me you’ll hit someone called Gandalf.”

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Mama, We're All Nerdy Now

Bring me another train, this one is not steam punk enough

Everyone has a computer, there are console games in every home. Everyone knows what a hobbit is, and films with the Hulk in top the box office chart. Every other person on the street has tattoos; most young blokes have their hair spiked up to one degree or another and still the next go-to trouser after jeans are revamped army trousers. If the nerd spirit hasn’t entirely taken over the land then only because the punky greebo one still remains – albeit grown up and marketing itself most successfully.
It doesn’t seem so very long ago that but a few were concerned about the environment and most of all festivals are now corporate events supported in the thousands, the millions even, each year.
It’s all very well to say that the young today were our kids the day before but weren’t computers, Segas, and comics the preserve then of the thinking-youth? I’m pretty sure I don’t remember so very many of us (relatively speaking) going to festivals and keeping warm in army-surplus – hell, last year the fashion was for faux army boots and you can still see in the fashionable local shop Motorhead t-shirts for toddlers. It should be a good thing, but worryingly and wrongly I couldn’t help thinking ten years ago that really the queue to see The Fellowship Of The Ring could have been a bit faster for those that knew who the Uruk Hai were.
My pal Desmond thinks it’s great. He also thinks that if you went to Glastonbury in the 1980s tickets should be half price. Or the price of a step ladder. He’s happy that in the end the nerds and the crusties have won, he’s just waiting for the public announcement that anyone never into comics, music, festivals, and video games was officially wrong all along. Mind you Desmond would have it that long-hair has to be registered. Registered now so that when it inevitably comes back into fashion again you can’t have it unless you always did. Desmond notices such things, whereas I don’t. For all I know girls all wear leather jackets, have hoop tights, and DMs. I wouldn’t notice, which would be a crying shame.
But round here it’s not the nerds nor the punks that really won. It’s the fitness lads. Now don’t get me wrong I’d like to be a lot fitter than I am. I’d like to still be running and bunging a ball through a hoop for fun. But I can’t, or won’t, or don’t, but then I don’t wear size XXXXL tracksuits and trainers. The obvious effect of which has been the really sporty folk getting into much, much better sportswear. With really froopy sunglasses. But they’ll be caught up with, albeit only when cornered.        
It should of course be all or nothing.
And Desmond wants mainstream culture to really absorb, accept, and de-tooth all sub-pop. Desmond wants people to go the whole hog. He wants to see people in velvet suits and with Robert Smith make-up to match the Robert Smith hair. And really now, wouldn’t we all like to see politicians getting hip with the kids in eye-liner and white pancake?
I’m off to catch Question Time. It’s now a bi-partisan cross-section of political figures all doing their best to be Edward Scissorhands and just like every goth, ever, not quite pulling it off. 

Wednesday 2 May 2012

I Am Not Worthy (4), Quentin Blake

I knew it was going to be a day siding with the odd from the moment I woke. It wasn’t that Bosswell’s voice calling for her mummy at godawful o’clock was in itself any different (‘She’s at work, go back to sleep’), nor that my eldest (Catnip) misread the clock by an hour and so was ready, peculiarities included, to be off to school an hour ahead of time. No, it was that bed, bathrobe and bookends had been drawn quickly, scratchily, and without doubt marvellously. For the day began all very Quentin Blake, and praise Cope for that.
                          Born in 1932, Blake has been involved in way more than three hundred books. Some thirty odd he wrote, all of which he illustrated. Perhaps best known for his association with Roald Dahl I remember him for Jackanory where he would tell his story and illustrate it as he went, all on a big old wall along which he walked marker-pen in hand. The speed of the man is not perhaps so very unbelievable when one looks at his work, and it’s childlike, and for children, but make no mistake Quentin Blake has studied art and taught it for decades besides. He draws like we know he does, because he wants to, because he can, because it’s just so very right in every scribble and dotted eye.
                          Quentin Blake is endless summers. Lemonade in glass bottles. Spangles, and life unfettered by misery and responsibility. It’s a few years till we walk into the woods to poke a dead body with a twig, we’re barely riding everywhere on our pushbikes and to the shop, for flying saucers, with our pocket money still warm and whatever change dad had that Saturday. He’s the first Monday of the summer holidays, he’s the stick that is everything and better than any toy.
                          He’s Quentin bloody Blake, and you my friend (like I) are simply not worthy.  

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Disney's Robin Hood - Where Are They Now?

Disney’s smash-hit Robin Hood hit the screens in 1973 in an era otherwise dominated by Led Zeppelin and seaside boarding houses that expected guests to go away between breakfast and teatime. Reviving the story of a little known English folk hero, the 70s animated feature daringly used mostly American actors to portray the roles, a feat not attempted since. Based on the nigh-forgotten tale of an outlaw against the Plantagenet monarchy, Robin robbing from the rich to give to the poor is ever ready to fight for justice. Robin faces off against the evil Prince John, who on the orders of his brother King Richard has to raise a monstrous amount to pay his ransom in order that he can return to England for exactly four minutes (whereupon the rebels all fall to one knee and realise they don’t personally speak a great deal of Norman French). Later adaptations of the-then much more famous tale attempted to put a swing on events such as by casting paddle-footed and giant-handed marsh wiggle Uma Thurman as someone or other, but no one watched that version (filmed at Peckforton Castle) competing as it was for the latest instalment of Waterworld, set in a wood,
But what happened to the stars of the Disney version? Never having heard of Errol Flynn and plagued by a clause in the Magna Carta (that made it compulsory to have Sean Connery in it somewhere) what became of the stars in later years?

Despite an appearance in the Plague Dogs, Robin could not find work having been typecast as a rebel, later adaptations of the tale put aside the fact that Robin Hood was a fox. Not until The Animals of Farthing Wood did Robin attract a starring role again. Robin’s portrayal shocked old fans due to his blatant nudity from start to finish. Work in computer games saw him provide a voice for Sonic The Hedgehog but not until 2009s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic Fantastic Mr. Fox did Robin’s early promise show substance.

Robin’s love interest Marion fell further, appearing quickly after her first role as the girlfriend in Fritz The Cat. Modelling work came through Sylvanian Families but she rapidly fell into the infamous Anime market where she remains to this day.

A Polish war hero, Little John was the elder statesmen of the ’73 film. Well known in the States as a stand-up, he returned to his vaudeville roots as wise-cracking Fozzi in the Muppet Show. It all came to an end when Little John was convicted for stealing picnic baskets and he is perhaps best known nowadays for the antics of his son, Eton-educated spider-muncher Bear Grylls.

Lastly and Prince John, the thumb-sucking buffoon (later parodied by Alan Rickman shouting a lot) returned to theatre. Forging a productive career in documentary, and a close associate of Richard Attenborough, his story is now being trotted out in Broadway and the West End where at last he is a King, not a Prince. A thinly veiled vehicle put together to allow Prince John to play Othello he delights tourists daily, with puppets.