Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"I don't think they play at all fairly..."

ITV News may never quite hit the hysterical heights of its obvious Day Today influences, but by Jehovah, Mark Austin, Mary Nightingale and t'gang are certainly trying their hardest...
Tonight at least we escaped some entirely-unnecessary and embarrassing attempt to piggy-back onto some sort-of-fashionable Big Brother / Deal Or No Deal / X Factor-style graphics and format for a dull political story. Instead, the latest fatuous time-wasting about surely the least interesting and important aspect of the tedious John Prescott saga was given the self-satisfied label: "Croquet-gate".

Okay, okay... Okay... Leaving aside the dullness of it all (and surely it's time for someone to pick up and run with the potential of Peter Oborne's revelation in the Evening Standard, that David Cameron takes regular afternoon snoozes in his office as visitors come, vainly, to call...?)... why oh why oh why oh why do people insist on attaching "-gate" to wannabe scandals...?

"Watergate" was so called, because Watergate was the actual name of the hotel base of local Democrat activists, raided by Republican "rat-fuckers" (pardon my French, but so they dubbed themselves). Splitting the title into its constituent parts sheds no insight whatsoever into the affair itself.

Thus, adding "-gate" to so-called scandals is just, well... stupid. Surely...?

You might just as well call this latest one "Water-croquet".
Though that does indeed suggest something else entirely...

And a pastime in which you really wouldn't want to see John Prescott taking part.

(This John-Prescott's-a-bit-of-a-tub-really-isn't-he-eh? gag should have been brought to you this coming Friday by the current scriptwriters behind Have I Got News For You..)

"Providing it's with dignity..."

One almost-unutterable pleasure of being back at base camp, is sharing a home with those bizarre boys, Tots and Barney.
Even at a young age, there was only ever going to be one winner in the tussle to be Top Cat...

"At Finchley Central, ten long stations, from Golders Green - change at Camden Town...

"... I thought I'd made you, but I'm afraid you really let me down..."

Heavens bless the Misery Line.
Okay, okay, I know it may not be the done thing to offer adoration, admiration, or even grudging non-loathing to the Northern Line and all who sail in it.
And, suffice to say, the scandalously strange contracts by which Metronet and Tube Lines get to mess around with both the Northern and Jubilee lines, woefully under-perform and yet get paid more in guaranteed bonuses than it would be worth their while spending to improve the tracks... Well, entirely important issues for another day. And perhaps a more rigorous blog, I dunno...
But, still... I'm currently feeling warm-ish towards the Northern Line and especially this little zone-three/four/five High Barnet branch along which most - most, not all, but most - of my significant stays have been centred.
I seem to have spent most of the past fortnight hoiking random slices of furniture, junk and, mostly, (news)paperwork into box after box after box, and then into my struggling-at-the-axles old Ford Ka, all the better to trundle along from New Barnet to my folks' home in Finchley, ahead of my putative move to new pastures, er, somewhere dead in the middle, that is Woodside Park...
After 18 months back in North London, I'm finally doing the grown-up thing of leaving behind the eternal, everything-spent-on-rent days of my immature budgetary past and finally buying, er, one whole half of a flat, thanks to the rather ingenious shared-ownership schemes which are, happily, spreading slowly across our estate-agent-whoopee-making environs...
Having been desperate to move back to London, anyway anyhow anywhere I choose, after quitting Be-right-on in 2004, I never really expected to be able to afford owning a place outright myself - but the pleasure of being back among the familiar felt enough.
But, I suppose, it was always one of those things which, ultimately, adults - or "adults" - must at least try to confront. And when my best friend found herself a home through Barnet Council's partnership with the Home Connections shared ownership people, it at least felt like something into which it would be worth looking. (Sorry for the awkwardness of that sentence, but then again - prepositions are things which no self-respecting sentence should end, er... with... Oops.)
At first, I was a little off-put by the website rules and restrictions, and the variegated application forms sent my way. It certainly seemed such half-, even quarter-ownership offers were meant more for your poor, deserving nurses, teachers, firefighters and (if you really, really must) police officers, rather than cynical hacks who may earn substantially less, certainly on local papers, but still... could never call upon such public support in times of strike, or general "aaaah..."-ness.
I know, and accept that...
But having expected very few waiting list points, and felt almost regretful about a recent (meagre-ish) pay rise, I wasn't really expecting to hear positively back too soon, no matter how many of their flats I took a tour around... Then again, the Barnet website would often stipulate an application would require a minumum salary of, say, £26,000, and savings of £2,500, for consideration - and so, I felt (just, just about) back in the game...
And, lo, I finally found somewhere willing to take me on - a new-build very close to Woodside Park station, a lovely little apartment and - most gleefully, enthrallingly of all - half-my-own in technical details, much-more-so spiritually (or so it seems to me right now, anyway...) Of course, all the technical stuff, financial advisors, solicitors, housing corps, etc, can feel rather baffling for a first-timer as myself, and my imminent three-week flight from this country may not actually contribute worthfully to the process, but at the moment, July 17 is set as the date I stride inside, slam the door propietorally behind me, and... start the tedious rigmarole of shifting all my rubbish from door to door again...
Hmm.
Well, in the meantime, I started this post intending to celebrate the move back onto the London Underground from the tedious overground of New Barnet station, so here at least are a few minor things I, at least, shall find to cherish again...
* The framed copy of Finchley Central resident Harry Beck's original, epochal London Underground map from the 1930s, a design classic which sadly didn't seem to win him the acclaim during his lifetime he surely deserved...
* The intrepid archer atop East Finchley station, aiming his arrow southwards yet surely, confidently aware his counterpart across the river, at the other end of the line at Morden has long gone missing...
* The Alec Gilroy lookalike who's been patrolling that lonely little West Finchley entrance for nigh-on two decades, I'm certain of it...
* The strange crackle in the electrical lines whenever a train approaches the West Finchley platforms, a more reliable indicator of oncoming traffic than any LED sign more centrally...
* The hardy newsagent's stall at the foot of the hazardously-steep slope at High Barnet...
* The legendary escalators at Highgate... always good for finishing whatever chapter of the book you've been reading on the train - and then starting and completing another for good measure...
* The moment mobile phones chime back into life as you hit open air again between East Finchley and Finchley Central, a seemingly interminably-long distance between two Tube stations only matched by the gaping gap between Finsbury Park and Seven Sisters on the Victoria Line...
* Being a QE Boy and having the choice of seats at High Barnet, all the better to look up to - and yet also look down on - the Finchley Catholic thugs as they crammed on at Woodside Park...
* Occasionally seeing the Scottish woman, not Joan "Just the one, Mrs Wembley?" Sims, from under-rated Dennis Waterman sitcom "On The Up" boarding the train at Finchley Central...
* Getting off at Camden Town and walking the rest of the way into, well, town...
* Getting off at Embankment and walking over the river to Waterloo...
* Getting off at Waterloo and walking over the river to Embankment...
* Enjoying all this, and yet still having that special Misery Line moral-one-up-man-ship when griping about the Tube with all and Underground sundry...

Monday, May 29, 2006

"Don't field, don't bat, what do you do...?"

Ah, but he can spin a ball rather beautifully...
Another swashbuckling century from Kevin Pieterson aside (almost too swashbuckling, a scolding Steve James suggests), the delight of England's Second Test win over Sri Lanka has been the eccentric entertainment of Monty Panesar.
An utter clown in the field, and a real ferret in the batting line-up (coming in after the rabbits, natch)... but some lovely left-arm finger spin.
If Ashley Giles ever regains fitness, though, Monty may need to start doing better than two-fer or three-fer to keep his place, judging by Duncan Fletcher's customary insistence on all-round contributions...

But still, for the time being...

I'd have loved to have been able to get to Edgbaston for the Test, but had to make do with internet and TV coverage. When studying in Birmingham, I spent my second year living a few minutes' walk around the corner from the ground (I insisted I lived in genteel, green-trimmed Edgbaston - technically, it was actually down-at-hell, red-light-zone Balsall Heath...), and in the summer would enjoy paying £3 or so to enter the ground on the way home from a morning on campus, sit watching a county game alongside, ooh, about three other spectators, with a good book propped on my knees and the knack of spot-on timing, so I could read a few lines before raising my eyes for each delivery. Lovely stuff.

Which reminds me, I really did intend to find a local cricket team (or pub side) to try to play for this summer, but have probably left it too late.
It's been too long, since dim, distant schooldays and summer holiday sessions in the nets, doing my best to study finger grips and spinning techniques, without much success...
As one sports teacher told me, sort-of-encouragingly, as I completed another over with better intentions than actual delivery...
"Okay, good, good - if we can just get some turn on your bowling, we might have something to work with there..."

Hmm. Inspiring. A spin bowler without spin. That would be, then: a slow bowler.
Eat your heart out, Shane Warne...

Still, I liked to tell myself I could at least field in the slips quite reliably, and even sometimes bat a bit.
Honestly, Monty...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Arousing of a mighty monster from his sleep..."

Two weeks and fewer than two days until I set flight to Germany for the first three weeks of the World Cup. Can't wait, and I shall post at greater length later about that much-maligned nation - and a rather excellent Guardian series of articles about that old Anglo-Deutsch "Liebe/Hass", er, thing...
But I am a little concerned. While excited at "doing" Bavaria for the first time, for part of the adventure, I'm a little put out by recent reports of snow.

After all, the last time we had a proper white winter blanket over here, I was disturbed to catch sight of an evil snowman, holding an abacus.

Well, I say he was "evil".
He certainly looked very cold and calculating.

"One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock BOK..."

Hmm - just when you thought the Football Association couldn't be more cack-handed about, well, everything...
Okay, so it may seem only-sensible planning to some. But surely I'm not the only one to feel slightly uncomfortable about the FA following in the foolish footsteps of Middlesbrough and the Vermin, by organising so early a triumphant, trophy-wielding bus tour through the streets of London to celebrate our, er, inevitable World Cup triumph.
Nice one, whichever fool leaked the plans to The Times.

They think it's all over? It might just be now...

"It's laughter and it's loving I disdain..."

I AM: ... a rock, I am an island.
I WANT: ... to be a millionaire.
I HATE: ... radio presenters, especially Nicky Campbell, Chris Moyles and JoAnne Good.
I MISS: ... young and innocent days.
I FEAR: ... death of loved ones. And rodents.
I HEAR: ... Mariah Carey songs, blaring through the walls in the early hours of weekends. Unhappily.
I WONDER: ... how long before someone will master the art of time travel. And cheap, accessible, no-frills time travel at that.
I REGRET: ... plenty.
I AM NOT: ... your stepping stone.
I DANCE: ... with great reluctance.
I SING: ... with very little reluctance, I'm afraid.
I SEE: ... a bad moon rising.
I CRY: ... when Greta Garbo "dies" at the end of "Camille".
I AM NOT ALWAYS: ... ... ... ... ... Sorry - er, ... paying attention, I suppose.
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: ... surprisingly carefully-crafted crudites.
I WRITE: ... stuff.
I CONFUSE: ... easily.
I NEED: ... a good shaking.
I SHOULD: ... go to bed.
I START: ... Catch-22 again, at one point every year, but always give up in exasperation at most a few tedious chapters in.
I FINISH: ... too many sentences with "..." ...

This for seconds, by the by, is courtesy of HangTheDJ... (As for Pr0lix, Toxic and Overnight Editor - consider yourselves well and truly tagged...)

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music, any old way you choose it..."

Speaking of iPods...

Well, you learn something new every day.






The otherwise-admirable Guy Goma, when interviewed about the Apple v Apple court case, certainly didn't mention the implications of this shocking revelation...

The Beatles: is there anything they didn't do...?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Self-disgust is self-obsession, honey, and I do as I please..."

My iPod is in a funny mood.
Random shuffle is pretty much the default setting for my machine, especially when driving - meaning I now manage to pretty much tune out of current hip new hit parade-listening, and only properly heard the apparently-ubiquitous "Crazy" for the first time last week (old age beckons...) - but which allows me to enjoy exploring the often-neglected hinterland of my own music collection.
But then... there are some days when, yes, it just seems that the iPod has a creative mind of its own... and a funny mood on.
Sometimes this produces an ironic, yet apposite segue - for example, the other day's first track, "Parklife" by Blur, romping promptly into "Live Forever" by Oasis.
Then there is the simply odd: with almost 11,000 tracks to choose from, why did the iPod, after playing Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", decide to follow that up with... Bob Dylan playing a live version of the very same song...? Too much, too soon, of a good thing...
On other occasions, the iPod takes a fancy to one particular artist who keeps cropping up again and again in quickfire, sort-of succession. At the moment, s/he seems stuck on a post-Beatles George Harrison tip.
So far, it hasn't thrown up "Synchronicity" by The Police then immediately followed up with "Synchronicity II", but I'd like to think it will happen - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon...
Most enjoyable of all, however, are those most jarring of musical-and-lyrical lurches.
Driving into work this afternoon, struggling to keep cheery and in control of the car while surrounded by Sunday drivers and swirling rain, it was suddenly exhilirating to have blaring out of the speakers, "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart", the second track from the Manic Street Preachers' finest album, The Holy Bible - perhaps my most treasured of the 1990s (to go all High Fidelity for a moment, the top five would probably be padded out by Blur, Parklife; Morrissey, Vauxhall And I; The Auteurs, Now I'm A Cowboy; and Crowded House, Together Alone - but anyway...) The album may have a justified reputation as one of the bleakest of recent-ish times, war-torn and self-lacerating, conjuring shards of epic melody from topics such as mass murder, capital punishment, prostitution, the Holocaust, suicide, anorexia, and so depressingly on... (albeit in chopped-up slogans which may seem impenetrable in places, but nevertheless would look strangely cool when scrawled upon a bedroom wall... or, in my humdrum case, scrawled onto pieces of paper and Blu-Tac-ed upon a bedroom wall... Rock'n'roll, eh?)
But there are some good sort-of "jokes" there, too, such as "Ifwhiteamerica..."'s derisive spittings of "Cool, groovy, morning, fine - Tipper Gore was a friend of mine - I love a free country, the stars and stripes and an apple for mommy..." or "Who shall we choose for our morality? I'm thinking right now of Hollywood tragedy... Big Mac, smack, Phoenix R, please smile y'all..."
Hmm. I know, I know - as far as summer 1994 lyrics go, they're not quite "I'm feeling supersonic, give me gin and tonic..."
But still: All hammered and hollered out with scarcely a moment to catch breath, to resist the pounding guerilla army stampede which seems likely to sweep all before it, to fend off the fury of such savagely moral certainty. Phew. North Finchley High Road on a Sunday afternoon never felt quite so apocalyptic. (And other tracks, such as "Yes", "Faster" and "Die In The Summertime" are even more vividly, violently powerful and poignant still...)
So - whatever track is unfortunate enough to be offered up next clearly has a heroically hard act to follow...

Oh.



I certainly wasn't expecting that.
I'd completely forgotten that was on there in fact.
Which, I suppose, was the point of putting on shuffle in the first place...

All together now: "Now, what starts with the letter C...?"

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Lest we forget...

There's admittedly a danger I shall keep grinning so incessantly, I'll end up fixed in a Joker-style rictus, but for now, this genius video still cracks me, so consistently... up...

"It feels so right - can't be wrong - rockin' and rollin' all week long..."

"Brother, can you spare me a rhyme..."

... And yet, for really decent music from this particular bloodline, I would urge those of the most discerning tastes this way instead...
Pah.
And, indeed, bah.
Talented little stropbox, really...

"The darkest night, and all its mixed emotions, is getting lighter - sing along..."

But meanwhile... while such enjoyment was going on, some of us had a proper job to do...
Well, almost...
In an entirely-predictably-sparse Storm club - next to the Moon Under Water in Leicester Square, that reliably cheap-and-soulless-of-all-soulnesses bar in the worst of the West End - your blogger was knocking back bottles of Carlsberg ready for his big six-song showpiece set...
An unfortunate night, really. When most people were either sunning themselves in tropical climes, or either supporting the Scum (wrong) or Barcelona (right) in some, any, pub somewhere...
But, anyway.... A sturdy little bunch offered sterling support, for which I'm truly grateful (Lyndon, Jessie, Nick, Lizzie - your reward will be in Heaven - that is, it probably won't be here...)
And I kicked off with that trusty old favourite (for me, anyway), Autopilot, whose genesis has been recounted and which Lizzie was kind enough to say she remembered from way, way back...
Then, onto a rewriting of Rat Race, whose verse-lyrics Nick first wrote in about 1997 and to which I added a chorus back then, and a hefty rewriting, ooh, about a week ago, yet keeping the main thrust and theme... And, for all my fat-fingered thrumming and strumming, followed somewhere along these lines...
(Introducing it with the oh-so-banterful time-filler "And yes... I have come straight from work..." I was wearing an out-of-place, scruffy suit, y'see... Anyway, here t'is...)

Half a jacket on my back, my lenses burning red
Clinging on to the luggage rack, five elbows in my head
Raising an eyebrow at every highbrow book that's not Dan Brown
My eyes glaze over at my own front cover
Please people, put your Metros down

Chorus:
Oh, it should have been so easy
Should have been so easy
Keeping up with the pace
But I'm starting to feel queasy
Not so bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and breezy
Keeping up in the dirty rat race

Stick your skies of blue, and its thinking too
And your tablets set in stone
"Throw some pebbles out, see how they ripple about"
Oh, I just want to go home
I'm a C C Baxter, buddyboy
Looking for Ms Kubelik
But every suit and dress at every desk
Is spilling out the same old brand awareness schtick

Chorus...

Here's where we get off
Here's where we get off

Fighting dark in the nearest bar, with the landlord's same old jokes
Someone shoot me if I ever laugh or seem a Chubby Brown kind of a bloke
Staying late, 'cos all that waits at home is last night's tea gone cold
One bedside prayer, if there's anyone there:
Hope we live before we get old...

Chorus...


Okay, then... And into a really-rather-embarrassing spiel, starting off on how this must be the best, guaranteed Gooner-free zone tonight. Only for someone to shriek out "A*senal!" Such a great fan, they must have been...

But it was merely a tenous cue into me talking about my forthcoming trip to Germany for the World Cup. And how I'm fond of the place, and the people, despite the traditional rivalry. And even the language, though it's slipping away from me.
Which had me thinking what it would be like to try to keep up a proper romantic relationship over that language frontier...
Moving beyond my brief German-girl dalliances, that is - close encounters of the third Reich, indeed - nope, sorry... (though it did get my biggest laugh... curse 'em...)
But anyway...

All those words that never seem to trip off my tongue
Like "love" or "liebe", "Wunsch", "desire", I avoid them, every one
But now you've got my leafing through my tattered vocab books
Trying to play catch-up and jawohl, it looks
Like I'm learning more every day
But auf Deutsch is so unromantic
En francais sounds more fantastic
But I've got a lot to learn

Chorus:
I just want you here
I only want you near
Oh liebling - komm zu mir

Maybe it's the harshness of the crunchy way that some words end
Your "ich" or your "brauch", or your "machen", "sprachen", "schwachen" - oh, guten Abend...
Or maybe it's just the way I've simply let my knowledge slip
Since I stumbled out of school, and that explains each trip
To my Wortbuch, to check on what you're saying
But auf Deutsch, it sounds so unromantic
In Italiano sends all lovers frantic
But I've got a lot to learn

Chorus

All those cliches about sunbeds, and two world wars
And images of '66 - Achtung, Fritz, what's the score?
But I promise I'll stop going on about Bobby, Nobby and Geoff
Well, even I know when a joke's been done to death
And we can laugh about much more
But auf Deutsch, it sounds so unromantic
"Es hat kein Romanz" if you're being pedantic
Oh, I've got a lot to learn

Chorus
Chorus...


Then I threw in a rather boring workaday song called "Never Been Kissed", which sounds a little pretty but I can't be bothered to type up the lyrics now, then introduced "The Morning After" with a few strums (also previously transcribed), to cheers from Lyndon - which had me instantly stopping short before restarting, oh such a card I am... - and then, with one song left, the spot I'd left for the magical cover...

Well, while I'd pondered Kinks or Kermit, Gene Clark or Gram Parsons, Supertramp or Spice Girls... after a day of writing up the sad story of Sir Paul and his odd missus, I went for a Macca special...

... oh, and it allowed me to lever in a spiel about the only happy person tonight being Macca's dope-dealer, who might suddenly find himself back in business again...
"Kids - great news, we might be able to afford a holiday this summer after all...!"

Except the deathly silence which greeted this seemed to give its own anti-reward (though Lyndon, Lizzie and Nick later insisted they were laughing uproariously, something to do with the shoddy acoustics, you know, and politics, it's all politics...)

But anyway, having considered Things We Said Today, I've Just Seen A Face and We Can Work It Out (arf), I ultimately opted for his 1989 cutesy-pie finger-picker Put It There.

And then scarpered back to my table, all the better to watch, listen, learn, and... well, sneak out for the football score...

And get invited back, whenever I'm free.
Oh, foolish, foolish folks...

"Goodbye grey skies, hello blue (and red)..."

Sadly strange though it may seem, I'm joyously happy at Wednesday night's schadenfreude shenanigans. That is, the Vermin's truly gutting defeat at the hands of the blue-and-red might of Barca. An honourale enterprise anyway, not just for the Catalan region's brave battles against the fascist Franco, but also for the uniquely-odd way the football club is run, as explained here...
But also, well - it's good to see the top trophy in Europe actually going to the best team in Europe, for a change...
But, mostly, because it was the Vermin who missed out so heartbreakingly, and after having felt so deludingly close to the trophy, they were already getting high on each sniff of the Brasso...
I was sadly unable to watch the game in its entireity, so missed (as did most newspapers) such crucial incidents as Eboue's double-somersault-with-pike which led to the opening goal... And the foul by the hateful Lehmann which justifiably led to his red card, but rather unjustifiably had a perfectly-fine Barca goal disallowed...
Ah, but the ref could have allowed the goal, and merely given the goalkeeper a yellow card... say some...
Hmm, well, yes. Let's file that suggestion under the "making-up-an-entirely-new-rule-on-the-spot", shall we...?
Henry and Wenger, the sourest of sour bad losers, both... Eto'o was onside. Henry was justifiably booked for a nasty, dangerous challenge. Eboue could have been sent off for his first lunge let alone receiving a second yellow for his dive.
Yup, treated really, really badly, weren't you...? Shame Dein isn't a vice-chairman of Uefa, not just FA, eh...?
But anyway, this isn't a time for griping.
Yes, finishing fifth hurt, especially in such never-to-be-repeated circumstances, a perfect Spurs-stiffing if ever fate could so wish.
But this week has certainly been some consolation.
West Ham losing it at the last. Now the proper Scum.
Yukyukyuk...
Certainly more encouraging than I dared hope, when below-ground at Storm on Wednesday night, the act that followed me announced on-stage that the Vermin were a goal up, and a 'keeper had been sent off... I assumed it was Barca, and was instantly cursing the usual Gooner luck (just check up how many opposition players were sent off against them this season just gone...), but eventually found a moment to dart outside and upstairs to discover Barca had just gone 2-1 up and the lovely Lehmann was the red-carded culprit... So I managed to forget the drinks I'd promised to buy my friends downstairs, and darted into the Moon Under Water to enjoy Barca's last few, surprisingly-comfortable minutes...
And then, the joy...
The alternative? I don't want to think about it...
And, as it goes, there's no need to.
Hurrah. Y viva Espana...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Stop messin' about..."

The announcement of a new Carry On film, Carry On London, will perhaps not quite lead to plentiful rejoicing in the streets, even for those diehard fans who have been waiting a long time for a new Carry On film and might be correspondingly anxious for someone - anyone - to, er, give them one...
Shane Richie, Victoria Silvstedt and Vinnie Jones, though...?
Do me a lemon...



Here, instead, are just a few favourite gags from the originals, which in some cases even come across slightly better in print than in the too-too-hammy performance... (sometimes, that is...)
Some are truly terrible, others rather charmingly, simply silly...


* from Carry On Cleo (1964)
Kenneth Williams, as Julius Caesar: 'Infamy, infamy! ... They've all got it infamy!'

* from Carry On Don't Lose Your Head (1966)
Kenneth Williams, as Citizen Camembert: 'I'm Camembert! I'm the big cheese!'

Dany Robin, as Jacqueline: 'I would do anything for you. Anything. Your wish is my command, and your desire is my desire.'
Sid James, as the Black Fingernail: 'Really? Methinks if I play my cards right, I might be onto a good thing here.'

* from Carry On Screaming! (1966)
Harry H Corbett: 'This ear was found in Slocombe woods.'
Fenella Fielding: 'What, this ear?'
Harry H Corbett: 'Yes, that there.'

* from Carry On Doctor (1967)
Bernard Bresslaw: 'Nurse, I dreamt about you last night.'
Anita Harris: 'Did you?'
Bernard Bresslaw: 'No, you wouldn't let me.'

* from Carry On Up The Khyber (1968)
Kenneth Williams, as the Khasi of Kalabar unimpressed by the performing fakir: 'Bring on the dancing girls. Get rid of this idiot.'
Bernard Bresslaw, as Bungdit Din: 'Fakir! Off!'

* from Carry On Camping (1969)
Charles Hawtrey: 'Hello. What's a nice girl like you doing with an old cow?'
Sally Kemp: 'I'm taking her to the bull.'
Charles Hawtrey: 'Well, couldn't your father do that?'
Sally Kemp: 'No, it must be the bull.'

* from Carry On Again Doctor (1969)
Charles Hawtrey: 'There have been several incidents with nurses.'
Kenneth Williams: 'Oh come, come, Stoppidge - you know as well as I that all young doctors indulge in a bit of jiggery-pokery.'
Charles Hawtrey: 'Sir, I do not object to jiggery but I take exception to pokery!'

Jim Dale: 'That's a good skeleton. Did the last doctor leave it here?'
Sid James: 'That is the last doctor.'

Joan Sims: 'They told me you were a wonderful surgeon.'
Kenneth Williams: 'Well, I suppose I am a cut above the rest.'

* from Carry On Up The Jungle (1970)
Frankie Howerd: 'I'm flabbergasted. My gast has never been so flabbered.'

* from Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)
Sid James: 'How about some food?'
Hattie Jacques: 'Well, I could make you some beans on toast or something?'
Sid James: 'No, nothing too elaborate, thank you.'

* from Carry On Abroad (1972)
Sid James: 'Oh, have a heart darling, you know I need this holiday. You wouldn't want me to go without it just because she's going to be there.'
Joan Sims: 'If she's going to be there, you won't be going without it!'

* from Carry On Matron (1972)
Hattie Jacques: 'I'm a simple woman with simple tastes, and I want to be wooed.'
Kenneth Williams: 'Oh, you can be as "wude" as you like with me.'

* from Carry On Girls (1973)
Barbara Windsor: 'It's not her fault she has to wear a falsie.'
Sid James: 'What do you mean, "a" falsie?'
Barbara Windsor: 'She's got one bigger than the other.'
Sid James: 'Is that right?'
Barbara Windsor: 'No, left.'

Joan Sims: 'It's your girls I'm talking about - I've heard them all night long, doors banging ... '
Sid James: 'Blimey, when you've got young dollies around you have to expect a bit of banging.'
Joan Sims: 'Well, I expect you to get them into bed at a reasonable hour.
Sid James: 'I promise you, I'll do my very best.'

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Distractions - like butterflies, they're buzzing round my head...

... when I'm alone, I think of you,
And the life we'd lead if we could only be through with these distractions..."


Ah, yes, there they are. Not just the subject of one of Paul McCartney's loveliest, most-underrated post-Beatle ballads (from "Flowers In The Dirt", 1989), but also...
... well, also about a fair summation of what have been preventing me precisely polishing off a few lyrics, ahead of this Wednesday's half-hour main spot at a place called Storm, off Leicester Square... Ulp.
And also, the distraction which will doubtlessly deplete any audience that evening: namely, some obscure'n'unimportant football clash between the Catalan heroes of Barcelona and the craven Nogbads from N17...

So, any----way...
I've been hastily scribbling and rescribbling lyrics which still all seem so, so self-indulgent and not nearly witty enough, but more importantly pondering on which of all covers to hurl into the Dutch-courage-marinaded mess...
That is, to fill in a useful four minutes while simultaneously, desperately grasping for a bit of memorable unlikely-acoustic-pop-song-reinventing, a la the versions of "Baby One More Time" by both Travis and Fountains Of Wayne, or "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" by Coldplay, or whatsover, by whomsoever...
Well, I can do the Britney. Or various Spice-related numbers. Or "It's A Sin".
Striking-sounding...

But I think I might just go with the always-amusing "Alcohol" by Ray Davies.
Or "Ain't No Pleasin' You" by Chas and Dave.
No, no, no...
Nailed-on.
The Kermit The Frog song which gives this blog its name, gives my guitar its strange sort of self-respect...

"Someday we'll find it,
The rainbow connection,
The lovers...
The dreamers...
... And me..."

You say "feijoada"...

... I say "fay-hwa-dah"... let's call the whole thing off...














Hmm. This mildly-unpronouncable Brazilian delicacy was the dish my winsome, sweet-and-warm-and-winsome dining companion ordered and sort-of enjoyed at the excellently-gleaming Neal's Yard Salad Bar, with its bright pastel walls, veggie-friendly pages'n'pages of food, and do-able, down-able wines...
Still can't quite understand the virulent reluctance to accept cards, nor the longeurs sat through before we finally convinced them to bring along a mere bottle of still water, but, er, still...
All Googling attempts to look up said feijoada have only shown up concoctions which look very, very, oh-so-very little like the pork-chop-a-like, hefty hunk of something I dimly recall being plonked on a plate...
And presumably without meat... Of any kind. Even the unexpected stuff like, I dunno, cat, or badger, or weasel...
All feijoada-related anecdotes, gratefully accepted.
Or, if that seems too much of a troubling task to meet, here's what you could have won earlier...



Yum.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

"Who are you - who-who, who-who...? 'Cos I really wanna know..."

April 23rd is St George's Day. It also happens to be William Shakespeare's birthday. And his death-day.
Yes, the Bard is - according to what scanty records still remain - one of those unfortunate souls whose seven ages of man reached their end on the one day of the calendar year which should be saved for tearing open oh-so-hilarious cards which don't contain any money (but pretend they do), wheezing out candles, and smiling politely as another angora vest, or pair of mohair mittens, or trio of steel-wool socks arrives, destined for the next charity shop collection...
Hmm, dying on your own birthday. Not a nice thought.
And a fate which has our esteemed Queen in double the danger, of course... (to shamelessly crib an Alan Partidge-ism there... Spiceworld.)
But anyway... Coming from a family of literature-lovers/drama-queens (delete as appropriate), we've enjoyed many happy trips to Stratford, but one which sticks in the memory most was on the occasion of April 23, about 15 or so years ago, when we finally got around to joining the parades through town and general, glorious hoop-la put on to mark the day.
Well, at the end of a typically harried, Saturday morning drive up the M1 from London, we got there even-more-typically behind schedule, scruffy as anything, piling panicky out of the car while strewn with crumbs and butter smears from the toast frantically dragged along with us; the crumples and creases from cramped-car lolling; oh, and no doubt a few stray crotchety niggles among a restless collection of four brothers and a mother...
Yet so long as we caught up (finally) with the crowds, we were fine. We even got our hands somehow on springs of rosemary, traditional tokens to be borne by everyone - or, almost everyone - taking part in the parade. All through the town, past all three theatres and culminating at the church where his resting-stone takes inevitable pride of place.
And still on, and on... And here's where it all went a little weird. For, almost as suddenly as we pitched enthusiastically into the hordes, those selfsame hordes had somehow slipped away from us, and we and just a few others were being escorted through the gardens of Shakespeare's cottage, along the manicured paths and through ankle-high gates, greeted by museum staff in Shakespearean servant attire, beaming and shaking our limp hands and ushering us through the living quarters, where more and more doughty domestics were gushing their gratitude for us coming - even as us jeans-and-tatty-jacket-toting nobodies were clearly trailing incongruously in the wake of the grandiose, chain-swinging mayor, or the Ascot lady hangers-on, or the stiffly-besuited bureaucrats of the local council or the Royal Shakespeare Company or...
... Well, we didn't stop to make their further acquaintance, cutting our losses and whisking ourselves away upon exiting, before we inadvertantly gatecrashed another civic reception and - more to the point - got rumbled...
Back to the hoi polloi, we went, especially relieving for me as I felt massively guilty as soon as realised our error.
Well, maybe that's just a built-in reaction. It's not as if we could have got in any serious trouble, after all, with any stern "Bard Guards"...

It was just Josef K syndrome kicking in, as per - and as the great Anthony Perkins put it, in Orson Welles' 1962 adaptation of Kafka's cherishably chilling The Trial:
"You know at school, when the teacher said something was missing from her desk...? 'All right - who's the guilty one?' ... It was me, every time. I'd feel just sick with guilt... And I didn't even know anything was missing...!"

All of which is a rambling prelude to expressing sympathy for the hapless taxi driver plastered all over the papers today, for finding himself somehow shuffled in front of a BBC News 24 camera and exhorted to give his verdict on the complex Apple Corps/Apple Computer copyright courtroom battle of last week... in place of the real expert he'd merely been sent to White City to escort home.

Said expert has had his indignant say, both in the Press and on his own blog.
All that remains now is for the mysterious, French-sounding taxi driver to put a name to this footage of the poor bloke looking, frankly, terrified before struggling manfully on and finally being allowed out of his televised misery...

Then again, considering what little he had to say - it sounded to me at least as useful and illuminating as anything Nicky "King Smarm" Campbell has to offer on Radio Five in the mornings.
Find this mystery man... and give him his own show.

After all, it's not often you'll find a taxi driver lost for words.

Highbury hubris...?

Incidentally, while driving home along Canonbury Road towards Highbury Corner this evening, I couldn't help but notice yellow signs are already up and posted all around, advising of major road closures in bandit country Islington for the "Arsenal Parade" this Thursday...
Hmm. Let's hope such admirable advance planning proves as influential as last week's 'Boro bokking.

The Gooners do have previous in this regard, of course.
Ahead of that magical 1991 FA Cup semi-final against Spurs, George Graham's dullards were so bold as to record their FA Cup Final song ready for release almost as soon as they'd finished their North London derby lap of honour...
Thankfully, Terry Venables managed to find out about this, and used it as one of the factors to fire up Tottenham - and especially the boy Gazza - that glorious Wembley day.

Exhibit A, m'lud...

As Barry Davies so memorably put it:"Is Gascoigne going to have a crack? He is, you know... Oh, I say! Brilliant! That is Schoolboy's Own stuff!"

And as Gazza himself hollered, as he hurtled joyously towards the Tottenham bench: "He only tried to fuckin' save it!"

Of course, if the Vermin were to lose to Ronaldinho etc. and yet still take to the streets to be pelted with filth, after returning home in abject humiliation, all the somehow sweeter...

"... then like West Ham, they fade and die..."

What a cracking Cup Final, for a change. It had almost everything - stirring comebacks, spectacular goals, 'keeper cock-ups, an injury-time equaliser, penalty drama... And West Ham agony.
Sorry, sorry for any shade of schadenfreude here.
Well, I'm not actually that sorry, especially coming six days after seeing with what glee the 'appy 'Ammers chorused pro-A*senal chants from the Upton Park chicken run, which surely left London rivals of many persuasions feeling about as queasy as a Carrick who'd bolted one too many mouthfuls of Marriott Canary Wharf lasagne...
No, I feel entirely comfortable extending towards West Ham fans about as much sympathy and good grace as they showered Spurs' way last Sunday...

Then again, Rafael Benitez does seem a bit of a magic man anyway...

Actually, I'm more relieved than anything. After half-an-hour yesterday - and again in the second half, until Steve Gerrard's astonishing thunderbolt, seemingly struck from an entirely different postcode from where it ended up bulging the back of the net - I had nightmare visions of an end-of-season honours list which looked as follows:
Premiership champions: Chelsea - FA Cup winners: West Ham United - Champions League winners: Well, you know who...

At least that troublesome treble has been avoided in its entireity.
All eyes now on Barca - y viva Espana indeed...

PS - this clip of yesterday's Liverpool celebrations is worth persevering with to the end, if only to enjoy Djibril Cisse's baffling look of utter disgust at his winner's medal...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"I started something, and now I'm not so sure..."

Admirable Boy Scout-ing by someone on the planning side.
But, tell you what, boys - why don't you just take the day off instead...

"If you let it, London will open up for you like an oyster...

"... Throw your head back and swallow it all down.."

"... And as soon as I had recognised the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine. And as in the game wherein the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping it in little pieces of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch and twist and take on colour and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, solid and recognisable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann's park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and all its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea."

Phew. All that. From one dunk of sponge into your everyday cuppa.
A rather high-falutin' entry to just another workaday blog entry, don't think I don't know it...
But just as Proust's indulgence, from one nibble of a piece of cake, inspires and extends to a whole first volume of a 12-book, imposing epic, so... well, that same slim(ish) volume sets off again memories, and conjures up pictures... of, well, me struggling to make my way through Remembrance Of Things Past, as many before have, as many hence will, albeit in these circumstances lounging on a back-breakingly-flimsy Chamberlain Hall bed, the taste of bitter Seroxat tablets still upon my lips, my tongue, my back-of-the-throat, just seconds before they unfailingly failed to cure any lingering depression but succeeded in wiping me out, making my eyelids flutter more rapidly than the shutters of a Japanese tourist's camera, and basically having my far from compos mentis within minutes of trying to focus upon serious works of literature such as yer Prousts and yer Molieres and yer, er, Richardsons...

And yet, and yet... While I tried to struggle through Proust, and yet only made the end of the beautiful first-of-twelve volume - twice over, that's how richly good it was/is - the crumb of madeleine cake of which I've just been indulging, after a similar time apart, is the long-awaited BBC DVD release of Tony Marchant's 1997 drama series Holding On...

And, yes, it's had me gripped, all over again...

For several years I've been hope-fully, hope-lessly, haplessly tapping those useless words "holding" and "on" into search engines, eBay, amazon, without a great deal of success, propelled by ever-dimming memories of that bleak 1997 series which yet hurled the brain-equivalent-of-visceral type of thump, so many just-about-interlocking strands of rainy, rambling London-life heading into sharpest-sharp focus then suddenly withdrawing, just like your taxi home at the end of the late late night, in the glare of an early early morning, might just suggest and then immediately, instinctively disavow...

This was 1997 London, sure, it was 1997 Britain. You have your Noo Labour thinktank posh-gal cameo, earnestly tossing off an idea of "clamps for claimants" and barely batting an eyelid as Phil Daniels' bulimic restaurant critic can barely muster the energy to raise a contemptous eyebrow...

You have a classic TV serial which yet doesn't look brown or monochrome or faded, has "Design For Life" blaring from a party girl's scene yet now hoiks me up with a jolt, vaguely acknowledging I'd lovingly play that at a do I hosted these days, but the days when and where it would be a "current" and accepted backing track are now long gone...

Ah, those Britpop and just-about-Britpop tracks. Manics, Pulp, Blur. Those are still my music madeleines, in fact. "Parklife" - that's us Sixth-Formers, making the most of our lunch-passes to play Grand Prix computer games at Matt's round the corner, Parklife on incessant repeat-play. And Blur at Ally Pally, bingo-tastic.
Pulp? Well, that was the album of the first year, Morning Glory notwithstanding - the alternative album of the first year, I should say. And "Disco 2000" and "Something Changed" were Snobs floor-fillers supreme - not least for the ludicrous notion of a year 2000 ever coming around, and us ever feeling anything other than deliriously young...
And the Manics.
Well, that's a tale for another time... But those 'Design For Life' arpeggios - they rang out from the 15th floor across Birmingham and back again, come and have an argue if you think you're odd enough...

And yet... Holding On. Sure, it'll hurl you a brief snatch of your Britpop anthems. But the recurrent motif is an ominous growling cello, a traffic sound which builds up suddenly like Bernard Hermann's Taxi Driver bass, only ditching that saxophone treble for the sound of a string section playing the Jaws theme... very slowly...

That is, perfect. For the panoramic vistas over night-time London. But the close-ups as Phil Daniels' narrator Gary Rickey visibly disintegrates, his early-episode bravado giving way to nutrient-deficient rotting of the gums, the teeth, the cheeks, the eyes...

For the sudden spears into the bright blue eyes of David Morrissey's by-turns belligerent-and-broken taxman, alternately indignantly-inspired and shamed by his investigative Inland Revenue profession and position, prone to a sudden panic attack on the Tube, yet rushing home to "Mamma" and "darling" his elder sons in that odd ululation of deep-rumbling Scouse and emotion-rearing Cockney...

Really, David Morrissey and Lesley Manville - as the corruptico's seemingly-unruffled, evil-bitch PR ice maiden, turned frightened sex-dependent - are certainly two of the most compelling British TV actors my limited viewing indulgence has yet found, whether taking in Real Women, or State Of Play, or Blackpool, or basically, whatever...
How he found himself embroiled quite so deeply - and, indeed, graphically - in Basic Instinct 2 is a little more of a mystery, but fair play to him and his agent and his bank manager...

As I revisited the drama, I did try to think back to when I first watched. It struck a very vivid chord, and sensation. Maybe that's just the way we will all latch onto core emotions from a piece of art we not only admire and treasure, but deeply respond to and absorb.
And look for, delve into and pincer out, latch onto any vague nuance of a connection - many connections, the way such an inter-splicing series of inner lives, outer connections, is cannily making sure you do...
So? I was sure I'd pored into the first few episodes, tucked into my family Finchley home bed, my little TV crammed up close, Blur and Oasis and Sleeper and Bluetones posters still visible from the walls around me...
But then. I couldn't resist the temptation, this week, of looking up a few of the contemporary reviews. And it seems the first two episodes were broadcast on consecutive nights, Monday and Tuesday, September 11 and 12, 1997.
So... was I at home? Or were my mind and memory grievously deceiving me?
No, I think I just about was. Stooodent holidays going on until about the 15th of a month, three months after you'd recklessly broken up. Ah yes, those heady days of three-month summer holidays. Creeping perceptibly into autumn, but nevertheless...
It was dark. It was yet lurid. It swooped from one character to another, from highbrow to low-assuming, from chi-chi basement flats to Elephant&Castle tower-nightmares, from Norf to Sarf, from quiet desperation to displaced solitude to uneasy unions to queasy listening to basic, ignored illness...
And London.
Not your tourist board London, your gleaming red buses, and swoons around the Buckingham Palace fountain, and that invisible, 30-second road out of the city to Hampton Court and Windsor Castle.
No, it's the streets which remain anonymous until you pass by there and then you can't forget. "That's Goldhawk Road!" "That's the A205 through Catford, that terrible one-way system!" "That's the gorgeous Regents Park circle, Marylebone Road-edging..." "That's that kebab shop on the Kentish Town Road, where I caught the 134 that last time..."
And, in Holding On, the gutting, guttering climax of the first episode - that's where that pretty young girl gets suddenly, sickeningly stabbed by that poor young gabbling schizophrenic... just in a phonebox, there... on a London street, there...
Oh, look, there's the Screen On The Green glowing on behind her... And the Slug and Lettuce across the road... Yes, that's Upper Street. Similar now, same then...
Just a film... but just a street. And that's murder. That's sometime. That's London.

What's the film being advertised there?
Robert Altman. "Short Cuts".
Sick joke, for the scene.

Dead on, for the series.

That's my London. Somewhere. There.
I was living out of the city, for the first time, for a fair few months in a year.
And feeling, yes, lost.
And increasingly trying to identify myself as, well, me. Or a new me.
Birmingham. Everyone goes there, from all about.
Where are you from? London.
Cocky Cockney. Or southern softy. Immediately. Pick one, move on.
Yet I never quite did. But I got increasingly homesick for my home city, that lovely land I would gladly walk for miles on end, one measly Travelcard in pocket, camera occasionally clicking but mostly just soaking it up. Barnet to Bromley, Finchley to Forestgate, Primrose Hill to Putney - alliterate away...

So Holding On came as a clinging-on... A mild tick-off to mild fleeting elements of mild fleeting scenes - little bits of panic attacks, delusions, violence victimness, bulimia, delusions, deceptions, daft dreams...

But, then... Teenage then. I've since done much, much more than I ever imagined then, trudged the most depressing beats, mingled with bereaved families, talked with murderers, seen south London deeper than my superficial assumptions of a decade ago, dipped, bobbed, explored, hidden...

And what more do I know? Or appreciate?
Who knows?

But I react just as deeply to Tony Marchant's masterpiece, hurled back to those immediately post-Diana-death days of first transmission but easily now scorning with heavy hindsight those reviews which wrote the drama off as "already anachronistic" because this Diana-death Britain "has changed"...

Nah.
I politely declined, in that weird week-after, a German cameraman's request for me to stand looking at a tree bedecked in flowery tributes and "looking sad"...

No thanks, pal.
You can get me frowning, sure...

Only hurl me first the right, most delicate crumbs, that's all...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A picture says a thousand protest letter words...

That's it, Cazza, get it all up - you'll feel better afterwards, son.
Remember, you're only three drinks away from feeling great again...
All right, all right - maybe move onto the shots, then...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

They've got the refs, now they've got the chefs...

Oh no no no, this can't have happened, not like it has...
"Dream Team" scriptwriters, eat your hearts out...

I'll admit it. All week my mind was feverishly summoning up doom-laden last-day-of-the-season scenarios.
But never once did I imagine things transpiring like this...


How gutting and galling, how literally sickening.
Only Spurs, only Spurs, could go down and out like this, green to the gills - and surrounded by all kinds of intrigue and recriminations.
Doubtless there will be many who clamour for a replay, or compensation, and there may still be plenty to come out about exactly how, by whom, the fateful lasagne was poisoned.
But the damage has been done, probably from the moment our poor players stepped onto the Upton Park pitch and went ahead with the game, the likes of Dawson and Keano looking especially sickly throughout.
Fair play to West Ham for apparently offering some flexibility, at least a 24-hour delay, only to be overruled by the FA and Premier League who suggested a game should go ahead strongly enough for Spurs to fear a points deduction if they didn't take the field - even with Jol himself suffering from a dicky tummy too...

You have to feel for the players, puking up in the tunnel beforehand, collapsing in the changing rooms afterwards - in the circumstances, a "mere" 2-1 defeat is a credit. I was expecting a cricket score in the first half, and we even had chances to snatch a winner before West Ham plundered theirs.

I'm sure the most rabid of Spurs-supporting conspiracy theorists will have plenty of field days, and in my current mood I'm certainly happy to ask why this game had to rush ahead (with a four-hour delay turned down by police, any further stymied by the footballing authorities), yet a little drizzle on the South Coast could give the Gooners a few days off not long back.
Nor ask again why such an obvious conflict of interest as David Dein's role as vice-chairman of both the FA and a leading Premiership club is allowed to continue...
Nor speculate on whether Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore's input today was influenced at all by his whereabouts - that is, a seat at Highbury for the Wigan visit.

I just hope the players left some kind of dirty protest in the dressing rooms afterwards.
I certainly don't envy the Boleyn cleaning staff their duties tonight.

But this all will no doubt come across as bitter and twisted, and sure to veer dangerously into the territory of suggesting it was Wenger, in the kitchen, with a bottle of Domestos...

No, whoever did the poisoning, what concerns me more is how the matter was then handled, corruptly or - more likely - simply carelessly.

In fact, the club should perhaps be more concerned by the Premier League's stance and its possible effect, not on Spurs' Champions League chances, but the welfare of our players. Gordon Taylor, usually so swift to speak up on behalf of his Professional Footballers Association members, can we expect to hear from you this time?

Better, meanwhile, for us proud Tottenham fans to celebrate a fine, fun season, our highest League position since the Premiership started, the performances of many highly-promising young - and English - stars who can only get better, and the prospect of some joyous Euro away-days next season, albeit not in the Champions League but the seriously-winnable Uefa Cup...
Jol, Keano, Ledley, Carrick, Lenny and the rest: cheers, fellas. Look forward to seeing you all - and more - again next season. Ticket renewed, direct debit cheerfully approved. Come on you Spurs.

But excuse me if I feel a little crushed and forlorn for the foreseeable.
And feeling sorry for a friend who had £40 each-way on Spurs for the Title last summer, offering him odds of 62.5-1 for us to finish fourth, and had the prospect of a £2,500 pay-out dangling tantalisingly in front of him since last December when we first occupied that lofty height.

Only to lurch at the last.

Still: at least the footballing gods are becoming imaginative with their Spurs-stiffing...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Some bloke came up to me the other day...

... (not Tony Newley)... and said: "Hit me with your rhythm stick, you miserable cretin."

Which I felt was just adding insult to Ian Dury.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Shocked... And stunned..."

Can't believe I commented on the Maradona show without reiterating this disturbingly-entertaining footage...

Get stuck in, Barca...


Never touched 'im, ref...!

"First you get da money..."

I yield to none ("Well, there's no point fighting them...")
Sorry. That Pete'n'Dud joke clearly works better in audio, rather than written, form.
Let's start again.
I yield to none in my admiration for the Americana-adoring Uncut magazine, and thr newly-launched Uncut DVD seems a three-monthly indulgence I'll happily, er, indulge.
Especially since two of the three cover stars and stories so far have been Clint Eastwood and Al Pacino, perhaps my two most-adored movie, er, movie-ers... Though if the magazine editors opt, for the next two editions, to lead their issues with, respectively, Greta Garbo and Jack Lemmon, I'd be even more impressed...
And, yes, slightly spooked, I must confess...
But, but (and here's the, er, but)... at the end of that article about the icy-coolest of cool, icy Eighties pictures, Scarface is something special... And that something special is the bristling Al, the power-keg Pacino, the man who just don't give a, er, fiddle-di-dee, yet who goes out gloriousa...
And Carlito's Way, also directed by de Palma albeit ?? years later, is a fine old companion piece, with similar, occasional accent slippages but cold disco soundtracks and handlebar moustchaes and glittering glissandos...
Tuck in.
But back to Uncut... Shocking they can end an otherwise-expert feature with the way-off judgment:
"Pacino's career subsequently unravelled for the rest of the 1980s. Retreating into semi-retirement following the disastrous Revolution (1985), he eventually returned to a steady diet of mostly mediocre star vehicles. His belated 1993 reunion with De Palma on Carlito's Way gave some nostalgic nods to Scarface, but he was no longer the force of nature he had been."
There have, I indigantly hasten to add, been several very noteworthy performances, enough to keep ol' Al credibly towards the top of the thespian tree (albeot just behind the shoo-in, God-daddy Marlon, of course...)
Revolution, for example, was not quite a stinker, just a little dull.
But, for all the talk of his premature retirement and exile, it was just a handful of years before Pacino returned in the simmeringly superb Sea Of Love, playing a slightly more wised-up, late-1980s Serpico, who just can't be bothered anymore to not give in...
Other exemplary Pacino performances since then:
* Frankie and Johnny - I think this was the first 15-certificate film I managed to wheedle my way into, two or three years too young (shock! horror!), and was very appreciative of a trying-to-be-dowdy-looking Michelle Pfeiffer, but also Pacino as frankly more entertaining than your basic, puppy-ish short-order cook could, or should, ever hope to be...
* Dick Tracey - he was Oscar-nominated for this plasma-coated performance. Among many. But the biggest, and the best.
* The Godfather III - unfairly, if inevitably panned, but this completes the finest trilogy, extended character development and performance of 'em all: Al Pacino as Michael Corleone. And while Brando and De Niro pocketed Oscars, the true running thread, the man the studio were reluctant to cast, the alternately stolid/fierce/ruthless/reassuring...
Well, he was there all the time...
* Okay, so maybe he was reverting a little into shouty mode by The Recuit, and even before that, the ludicrously over-wrought Devil's Advocate (most memorably for future Oscar-winner Charlize Theron's flagrant nudity... (tch indeed... er, indeed...)
* But his careful, indigant but emptive Shylock in a recent Merchant Of Venice, which hurled Pacino back into the critical limelight, as his painfully realistic turn in Insomia, his canny and conveniently-underrated role in Hollywood sature S1m0ne", and... well, let just watch the stunningly-soundtrack-less, comedy-intro-farce-into-thriller-ness just, well, continue...
Hoooooooooooooh-haaaaaaaaah...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"The colours changed, rearranged our lives..."

Well done, Wolves board, for an admirable decision, which I hope and trust will pay off next season.
Okay, so many Wolves fans were annoyed they didn't blitz their way into the Premiership last year. Plus ca change, eh...
Many Wolves fans are fickle fools of the most unsupportive order. Many were turning against Dave Jones even as he took them up for the first time in aeons, even under the constant pressure that is the sleeping-giant-syndrome...
Frankowski, yes, seems to be a poor signing. But Glenn is potentially a great coach, and been unfairly, easily maligned, so much so by a pernickety Press with an agenda against his un-El-Tel-esque "aloofness" or simple, quiet calm.
Would have him back as England boss in a heartbeat, but that's just me, I know... When did England last look so composed, though...?
But anyway. Good decision by the Wolves, though suspect he needs to fly out of the traps at the start of the season or poxy Moxey'll do a Levy on him.
My mum's side of the family are all Wolves, and have seemed always eager to counter my Glenn-glorifying, especially during the past few months.
But my cousin Daniel sent me an admirable and succinct text this evening: "Probably a fair decision. 2nd chances n all. Don't recall us playing the continuity card before."
Hope and trust it pays off well.
Oh, and the omens are encouraging...
The last two sides to finish seventh in the Championship were...
2003-2004: Wigan
2004-5: Reading
See you again in the Premiership, then, Glenn...
(For those wondering why I adore the King of White Hart Lane so, a brief but beautiful indication can be found, albeit blurrily, here...)

"Spring is here, s-sper-ring is here..."

This court case is not, strictly speaking, very amusing or frivolous at all, what with all the disturbing details and psychological skewednesses obviously involved, but...
Well, having skipped over the name of the defendant David "Ha!-Same-name-as-an-ex-Gooner" Platt, I just couldn't help but be reminded of Homer's admirable attempts to cheer himself up by mixing some home-made Prozac.
Genius.
If not for certain inevitable, if irritating, design flaws.

"Needs more ice cream..."

Your cheatin' hand...

Okay, so an arrogant little... upstart. And his "confession" inthe enjoyable interview with Lineker was hardly self-flagellating stuff. But I just can't be angry with that man Maradona...
Old footage of Cruijff is a joy to watch, briefer glimpses of Pele too, and my old man will insist to his dying day (and beyond) that di Stefano was actually the finest footballer ever.
But Maradona for me, every time, even if the '86 traumas were my first real World Cup memories (staying up late, slumped in my top-bunk-bed, willing on Waddle and Hodge and Hoddle and one of the "Two Gary Stevens, there's only two Gary Stevens...") - or perhaps because of that second goal against England, the perhaps even finer semi-final strike against Belgium, and just the sheer inspirational everything-ness he seemed to offer that Argentine side (who weren't at all half-bad, by the by, tempting though it is to write them off as a bunch of useless hackers hauled all the way by a genius... though he was...)

It is, of course, hard to judge, really, from the less I've seen of Pele, but he seemed to add - albeit brilliantly - to teams already gilded with the likes of Garrincha or Rivelino.
Maradona was under more pressure to haul his side up using the strength of his stumpy legs, a swivel and a shrug, and the glue which stuck the ball to that left foot whensoever he felt like it...

A complete nutcase and occasional cheat, too, sure... But what he could do with a football were, doubtless still are, mind-boggling.

And, however blatant it clearly was, Maradona somehow got away with that handball - and it did seem original at the time, in a sick twisted way.
Valdano's cack, er, handed copy in the semi-final was just embarrassing, though, and thankfully, belatedly, had a referee who wasn't quite so dumb as ours.
Should have sent him off, mind, for idiocy as much as cheating, but still...

I still bore people occasionally (did I say "occasionally"? I meant, "often"...) with my vaguely-remembered night at White Hart Lane watching a Spurs central midfield of Hoddle and Maradona, for Ossie Ardiles's testimonial, in early 1986 - ah, the glory that coulda been...

Reading in a recent Sheringham interview, apparently Klinsmann was only the club's second choice in summer 94, Ossie was seriously pondering a move for Maradona, but ultimately decided too troublesome, especially after his antics in the US that World Cup.

Still - that could have been fun...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

From the unstinting media monitor...

... that previously exposed such egregious, frankly quite-nation-shakingly-scandalous BBC howlers as this and this, my invigilating eyes have blearily isolated yet another gaping hole in Auntie's bloomers...
Unless, that is, I've judged Robbie Savage wrongly all these years.
I, like many, may have written him off as a ridiculously over-indulged, attention-seeking, snidey, sneaky, journeyman of an irritant.
But, admittedly, this must have taken some talent to pull off...

41:44 GOAL - Robbie Savage
Blackburn 1 - Chelsea 0Handball by Njitap Geremi (Chelsea). Njitap Geremi (Chelsea) booked for unsporting behaviour. Free kick crossed right-footed by Robbie Savage (Blackburn) from right wing, headed goal by Robbie Savage (Blackburn) (bottom-right of goal) from left side of six-yard box (6 yards).Blackburn 1-0 Chelsea.

"I feel glad when you're glad..."

Okay, then, another football post despite promising otherwise - because, well, just because, it's my blog and I'll defy if I want to.
Non-Spurs supporters, feel free to surf away now, but fellow fans, feel free to plug the speakers in, click the mouse here, and enjoy...
It's not quite the footage montage broadcast over the Jumbotron on Sunday evening, soundtracked by Can't Smile Without You, somehow one of several unofficial anthems adopted by the Spurs support on their travels, but the combination of soundtrack and action - well, it works for me...
Yes, the goals, the celebrations, the tussles are so cherishable, I'm even feeling fond towards a Joe Cocker power ballad (it's "Have A Little Faith In Me", on this video). Marvellous scenes indeed...
Champions League or Uefa Cup, que sera sera. But whatever happens, this season has been a joy - especially after the years of incompetence and frustration, when the Sun sub-editors would reached for the cracked cockerel graphic almost as often as a crowbarred-in Sky TV plug...
Carrick, Keano, Robbo, JJ, the snarling Pitbull, the wonderboy after whom our second-placed pub quiz team was tonight named ("Imagine, Lennon for England..." - naff, I know, but it's the thought that counts...) Even bit-part players such as poor The Jolster, Jermain and new boy Barnard (apparently he was swanking it out on the town Sunday night, surrounded by a bevy of new-found female admirers - and fair play to him, after a superb second-half arrival...)
The job's not yet finished, lads. And we haven't actually won anything.
But we're on the up. And we're enjoying life again - exhilirating and tense and challenging and fun.
What else do you need...?

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Magic Glass Of Wine...

There I was, there we were...
Whiling away a Wednesday evening, with fruitily feminine friends at the Pitcher and Piano off Covent Garden, coming late to the "party" thanks to the Day Today-esque ITV News, but happily and successfully playing catch-up as the fresh wine bottles, and safely-meat-free Nachos plates are ordered forth...
And we chitter, and chat, and gossip, and gobble, before eventuqlly we're parting ways.. but sadly my train from Kings Cross is half-an-hour hence, so I dart into the railway tavern for one more innocuous glass, Birmingham-Liverpool highlights on the high-above, before I go...
And I stay awake for most of the trudge, bounding up and down and filling in the odd crossword clue as we go, only to clock the (for-me) penultimate stop of Oakleigh Park... then get shuffled awake at Welwyn.
Cos....
..... mic.
No trains go back to Barnet, so it's an entirely avoidable taxi ride, along motorways and old Roman roads, trying to avoid coherent conversation even as I express gratitude...

Then, I'm finally home, somehow, strangely, sometime...
And thankful I didn't quite emulate a friend, who similarly dozed off to the end of the line, but found himself in a far-distant station waiting room, staggering resignedly towards the silhouette in the corner of another woebegone wastrel...

And compelled to utter, blearily, gradually compos-mentis-makedly...

... "... Dad...?"