Friday, February 18, 2005


(NOTE - Oh wow, two old posts fused into one. The good news is that, since these were written, Keane's popularity has slithered down the plughole - hooray! The bad news is that in 2005, we've had to endure the Kaiser Chiefs, one of the ugliest [and I don't use that word lightly ; they'd get Simon Weston crooning Barry White numbers into the mirror, they're that repulsive] retro / panto bands to have ever disgraced national TV. The singer desperately wants to look like Simon Le Bon, though he's easily 3 stone off target, and is hell bent on radiating the radical charm of......Paul 'Rodney' Weller. Fucking hell's bells. One of these cunts has long greasy hair and braces, which I suppose would have been your average Crystal Palace FC hooligan back in 1976, so there is a smattering of distasteful retro-authenticity in some [hind] quarters, at least. But have you seen the slovenly 'rude boy' wannabe in his turd-brown, ill-fitting suit and shitty little porkpie hat? I mean, is this what we want British music to be remembered for? This fucking TRAVESTY?? Apologies for having to read the 'puking girl at Slimelight' story again, I'd forgotten I'd also related it in the Goths post)

This is the Chinese Year of the Rooster, which is good news for us Dragons - wealth, influence, wealth, wealth, more wealth and a smattering of wealth on top, can't wait! Maybe your sign's fucked, but I'm alright Jack - pull the ladder up.

Anyway, back to fox hunting. I was disgusted to see a load of Hunt Sabs on the news last night, being whacked around the heads by hunters. For God's sake, can't you punch them back, you feebs? And what's with the camouflage army jackets, surely these went out of fashion ages ago??? But if you DO insist on wearing them, please don't let ITN film you CRYING with a minor cut on your forehead and blubbing that you're anti-hunting cos it makes you a better person. Arrggh, don't these people even know the basics a) wear a balaclava ; b) carry a sawn-off pickaxe handle ; c) throw marbles on the ground to break the horses' legs ((ironically, sabbing hunts is the one time you can legitimately get away with animal cruelty - horses are Stakhanovites anyway, as Orwell pointed out. How many working class children were crushed under the hooves of countless emperors', tsars' and despots' armies? How many protestors have been trampled into the dirt by police horses, suffering broken limbs, necks and worse? Sorry Trigger , but you're on the hit list til you do something sufficiently anti-state, and no, dying during the filming "Battleship Potemkin" does NOT qualify you for martyrdom, you long-faced, four-legged cunt)) ; d) attack ITN cameramen.

It's simple isn't it, but you wouldn't know it watching yesterday's farrago. I mean, the old guy slapping this hippie kid, he had a side parting and a cardigan. You can't let people who look like THAT wallop your face and get away with it! Kid, you wept, and even your crustie women friends didn't have it in them to boot the bastard in the bollocks. I've always maintained that Hunt Sabs should spend less time listening to Back To The Planet and more time listening to Extreme Noise Terror. BUT ANYWAY, thanks for making all hunters look like brickhard bad boys.

But back to the Year of the Rooster. Actually, no I can't, I'm too angry now. Freud (either Sigmund or Clement, I can't remember) once said that there's a connection between our desires for food and for sex, which is why the next best thing (after beating up someone smaller than you in a drunken fit) when you haven't pulled a girl at the local 'Yates'Wine Lodge' is to go and stuff a chicken kebab down your lagered-up gullet and then ejaculate it back all over the pavement. It might also explain why, a few years back, supposedly sane men started developing giggly schoolgirl crushes on self-styled 'domestic goddess' (ie-she spent hours in the kitchen) Nigella Lawson. You know, to everyone else she was just this daughter of a fat old Tory MP who had a stupid first name (I suppose I could get away with calling a daughter Martina, if I had a paternal bone in my body, but what if my name was Roger? I'd probably kill myself). (Hey, remember Roger Cook? My themes are all running together for once).

Anyway, cooking and Nigella. Contrary to common belief, I didn't spend my Tuesday evenings jerking off to Nigella sucking off a black pudding brochette on TV. No, I never saw her appeal, to be honest. Apparently, when her husband John Diamond died, she had his head removed and preserved and kept it in a shopping bag. One night, when her new lover, art ponce Charles Saatchi, came round for a Shiraz and alphabet spaghetti feast, Nigella placed John's severed head in a cuckoo clock in her bedroom and set the timer for midnight. So the story goes, Old Man Saatchi was busy licking crumbs from her snatch when suddenly the clock struck twelve, causing him to shit the bed as John's head came bobbing in and out at him on a coil, while Nigella threw her hair back and screamed, "HERE'S JOHNNY!!!"

But on a lighter note, Rock N Roll, this cruel mistress we find ourselves bound to and obsessed by (incidentally, I'm including everything vaguely cool/ counter cultural that's occurred in the history of sonic vibrations under the "Rock'n'Roll" banner here - this includes avant-garde jazz-funk legend Byard Lancaster honking out Rib Crib [and I once had the most fucking splendid spare ribs in Cafe Klos in Amsterdam, highly recommended].... the All-Japan Reggae Dancers gyrating to Buju Banton's Batty Rider......Vagina Dentata Organ playing, er, a pack of malnourished attack dogs live on Spanish TV......DJ Scud's remix of Asian Dub Foundation's Witness.....Dana International winning the Eurovision.....Bob Harris weeping tears of impotent rage as the New York Dolls swaggered through Looking for a Kiss on 'The Old Grey Bastard Test' and booted prog rock back into the 1700s......the Blue Peter garden getting vandalised....The Prefects tearing through Faults,surely the best 90 seconds of UK punk EVER....Stockhausen conducting a helicopter quartet.....the time I went home at 6am with this horny Indian punk bird with bad skin who I met in the notorious North London EBM / techno toilet 'Slimelight', only for her to fall over on the escalator at Angel tube station and then proceed to yack up all over her fishnets and my Chuck Taylors - I would have done the gentlemanly thing and walked her home and made her coffee and plied her with Nurofen and Coco Pops, and then maybe asked for a tit wank, but her vomiting racket attracted a couple of early Sunday morning London Transport jobsworths who subsequently discovered I didn't have a ticket, so I had to leg it and faredodge back to Oval.....Nietzsche might have whinged about monotheic immaterialism ((sorry, I made that up)), but did he ever have to sit in a tube carriage, plans of wild kinky sex cruelly dashed, with gastric juice and onion fumes wafting from his baseball boots? Cheers, princess...) may demand similar fanatical devotion from her blogging slave idiots, but I've come to the conclusion that I must be tone deaf. Because I've witnessed a recording of last week's Brit Awards, the cream of UK music in 2004, and I haven't subjected myself to such a dismal, painful and miserable experience since the time I had my eyelid stitched up in casualty in 1999.

I'm not messing around here - I actually found myself going through severe physical discomfort waching it. Is it just me, or does it seriously hurt to listen to those facially-challenged turnips Keane? And what in Pan's name was going on with Chris Evans presenting it? I thought this embarrasing, repulsive maggot had been finished off for good after being cuckolded by the most shit teenage diva since Jimmy Osmond. What was this ludicrous idea of giving Evans the job, some piece of post-ironic hip, like getting Ted Rogers or Jim Bowen or Adolf Eichmann to play host for the night? (And don't DARE try and pull me up on my mention of Dickie Davies two posts back. That wasn't being ironic - Davies was the John Peel of sports broadcasting! Can you imagine that slimey lickspittle John Inverdale bringing Speedway to the nation? Can you fuck as like) I never thought it'd be possible to get a band more On Golden Pond than Radiohead or Coldplay, but no, Keane have managed to exceed all expectations with their tedious dirge. As for Joss Stone, well I take back the above comment about Billie Piper. And even when Pharrell and Snoop came on - people, that track is boring. As if I hadn't squirmed in discomfort enough, the sight of Bono's, Sting's and Elton's mugs filling up my screen to big up Bob Geldoff finally drove me over the edge. People, don't go down the pub tonight, stay in and give me some fucken votes...I'm dyin' for another plaudit here...

So I could seriously be tone deaf, because the Brit Awards 2005 reduced me to a gibbering wreck, hands over ears, unable to even get a laugh from the whole sad, sorry spectacle. Either that or Britain's name has once more been sullied in the eyes of honest men. What must the world be thinking of us right now? Of course, this has a seriously nasty knock-on effect. In the dive bars of Torremolinos and Limassol, Keane and the cunting Scissor Sisters will be on heavy rotation all throughout Spring. Norwegian trawlermen will spit in our faces and offer to break our teeth in pubs all over Sandefjord. The Japanese will stop coming to London, writing us off as some airstrip populated by prozac-popping nerds. The musical equivalents of Paula Radcliffe and Ellen Mc Arthur (both shopping at C&A and moaning about immigration and the ungrateful masses who don't appreciate their struggles) have officially been declared the victors of what I reckoned was a pretty good year for shit-hot new releases. The Rock'n'Roll Goddess has been fucked over by the Domestic Goddess and, quite frankly, armed revolution is not enough.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


It's come to my attention that schoolchildren may be logging into this 'site', as a bit of light relief from carrying out extensive online research into how the Ancient Egyptians used to wash their hair. I'd like to point out that you slimey little brats have it easy. Surfing for porn, beating up your teachers, getting paid £20 just to turn up after lunchbreak - it's the life of riley for you. You should have been in school in 1987, in one of our "IT" classes. I don't know why it wasn't just called "Computers", cos there was zero information and the technology was just a few notches above Donkey Kong 2. We were told that computers were the thing of the future, that if we applied ourselves, we'd be raking it in and living on sushi and champagne in Silicon Valley by the year 1999. We were then grouped off into twos and made to type in commands to operate an onscreen 'crane', moving and dropping blocky graphic containers from one side of the screen to the other.

Unsurprisingly, IT became a doss subject, alongside Art , Maths and PE, where you'd deliberately mess around, typing in 'Command - FUCK' , merely to get thrown outside, and excused from having to sit inside that smelly, over-heated room, eyes bleeding from the pixellated bright yellows and reds. But I ask you - have you ever seen someone hit by a shit bomb? It's an incredible invention that really packs a punch. Perfected by an arch-dosser called Steven Daly, who was eventually kicked out of school, it basically involves stretching a roll of toilet paper under your arse, shitting onto it, then wrapping the whole thing into a small bundle. Aimed at your target's face, the crap explodes everywhere, and will mentally scar them forever. I never got hit by one but I've seen it happen, and it's bad.

Also, when I spent one lunch break on bin duty, a fight broke out between one nasty piece of work and a kid he'd been bullying (for being Turkish and overweight). This Turkish kid dropped his bin, and lunged for the nearest object - which happened to be a dead seagull - and twatted the bully across the face with it. What I remember vividly was the bird's wingspan opened up as he swung it through the air by the claws. It was an awesome sight. He got left alone after that too.

Shit and disease and decay - effective weapons indeed. Bruises heal, but the memory of a maggot-stuffed, eyeless bird's head careering into your snout can really work wonders in shutting some people up -

"When you pissed yourself in Frankfurt and got syph down in Cologne
And you heard those rattling death trains as you lay there all alone
Frank Ryan brought you whiskey in a brothel in Madrid
And you decked some fucking blackshirt who was cursing all the Yids
At the sick bed of Cuchulainn we’ll kneel and say a prayer
And the ghosts are rattling at the door and the devil’s in the chair"

If the Pogues' 84 debut "Red Roses For Me" had been a speed-freak psychogeographical tour of fist fights, public toilet sex, cruel NHS shock treatment procedures, drunkenness and riotous anger, all played out against a CCTV-free, grimey and self-bankrupting London, "Rum Sodomy and the Lash" was the comedown - prostitutes dying in the streets, war vet cripples hobbling back to murky shores, the absence of old friends and loves, yearning for less shitty days, the slow death of the London Irish.

It's an album that captures the filthy black soot that used to cling to tube station signs, the overflowing GLC issue wheelybins, Thatcher's Britain as a "will we / won't we nuke" sickbed with the mongrels relegated to mopping up the patient's puke for a pittance. Even as far back as the 1950s, cops used to dangle jemmy bars from bridges in Kilburn, in the hope that pissed-up Micks would grab them to have a look on their way home from the pub, more out of curiosity than anything else. With a fresh set of fingerprints, it was easier to then haul them in and pin XYZ local robberies on the blokes who were rebuilding the war-torn capital. In the 1980s, the IRA's civil war at its height, Irish Londoners were aliens. Wearing a Celtic top in the wrong area carried a high risk of being run in for questioning or nutted by bootboys.

"One evening as I was lying down in Leicester Square
I was picked up by the coppers and kicked in the balls
Between the metal doors at Vine Street I was beaten and mauled
And they ruined my good looks down the Old Main Drag"

Just as I'm glad that Oi! bands were around to document the scummy side of 80s Britain, so too I'm glad that the Pogues rattled the cages of those who wish to categorise the decade as having had something to do with "subversion through style" and the fucking Groucho Club. RS&TL" has its moments of release ; the upbeat "Sally Mac Lenanne" is a thumping Celtpunk tune which, despite the lyrical excesses, only just masks the recurring theme of loss that cuts through this disc like a razor -

"When Jimmy came back home he was surprised that they were gone
He asked me all the details of the train that they went on
Some people they are scared to croak but Jimmy drank until he choked
And took the road for heaven in the morning"

You want surreal crossover? How about "The Wild Cats of Kilkenny", which sounds like the Gallowglass Ceiligh Band romping through the "Dr Who" theme tune. Gender subversion? Try Cait O' Riordan's booze-cracked take on the ballad "I'm A Man You Don't Meet Everyday". Indiscriminate aggro?

"Billy went away with the peace-keeping force
Cos he liked a bloody good fight of course
Went away in an old khaki van
To the banks of the River Jordan
Billy saw the arabs and he had ’em on the run
When he got ’em in the range of his sub-machine gun
Then he had the Israelis in his sights
Went a ra-ta-ta and they ran like Shi-ites "

The characters on this album all die, all fall apart. A cover of Eric Bogle's ballad "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" closes the album, the story of a happy-go-lucky young rambler who gets drafted and sent off to Gallipoli, then shipped back with stumps for legs, no girl waiting for him, no hope of disappearing with a tent into the Outback ever again. It's one of Shane Mac Gowan's best ever performances.

"Navigator" is probably the most under-rated Pogues song on here -

"The canals and the bridges, the embankments and cuts,
They blasted and dug with their sweat and their guts
They never drank water but whiskey by pints
And the shanty towns rang with their songs and their fights.
Navigator, navigator rise up and be strong
The morning is here and there’s work to be done.
Take your pick and your shovel and the bold dynamite
For to shift a few tons of this earthly delight
They died in their hundreds with no sign to mark where
Save the brass in the pocket of the entrepreneur.
By landslide and rockblast they got buried so deep
That in death if not life they’ll have peace while they sleep."

The Pogues' anti-authoritarian streak is maybe better heard on "Red Roses..." and the third '87 LP, the almighty "If I Should Fall From Grace With God". Sandwiched inbetween, "Rum.." is lacerated with self-doubt, plagued by visions of squalor and death, as if the protagonist, the navvy, is aware that lashing out against his tormentors with fists and boots can only go so far, that his time is running out and it's mere years before he's squashed inside the trash compactor of commerce.

In 1985, my dad appeared on the evening ITV news, when a work colleague and family friend, Pat Hanley, died after going down the pit at their West London construction plant. He called for action to be taken against the site managers for providing inadequate safety equipment, as his mate's gas-bloated corpse was whisked down the morgue. Nothing happened. Everyone had a whip-round for Pat's wife and kid (serious money too, one of the codes of 'London Irish' was closing ranks when the shit hit the fan), and they came around our house a lot. The wife started drinking heavily. There was a definite mood change around that time, a feeling that once it had merely taken force of numbers and resolute will to break down and defeat highfalutin bureaucratic apathy. My dad seethed inside - he was unable to comprehend how fat cat bosses enjoyed immunity from their crimes of irresponsibility, left baffled at what had happened to union power, what a waste it had all seemed as union-bashing became the norm. Strikers at Wapping fled police batons on TV, our next door neighbour was burgled and threatened with rape, and arthritis had already begun to set into my father's hands and wrists. The gig was fucked, and the bastards could close down any pit, hospital ward or work-related death inquiry without fear of recrimination, they just kept on winning.

The accompanying video to "A Pair of Brown Eyes", one of the most powerful tracks on "RS&TL", looks comically dated now, but at the same time retains a strange sort of power. A rasta leaving a club is thrown up against a wall and frisked by cops ; mutant, dead-faced domesticated couples sit in front of the goggle box, doing exercises ; young derelicts spray red paint over photos of Thatcher on the train. The video ends with a bizarre scene that could be modelled on "The Wickerman", strange harlequin forms prancing through a forest, free of the city, the camera finally fading out on a grinning pantomime horse's head. Lyrically, it's another anti-war song, but the words zig-zag between pent up anger ("I looked at him, he looked at me, all I could do was hate him"), drunken chat up lines ("And it's how're ya kid, and what's your name, and how'd you bloody know?") and stark romanticism -

"So drunk to hell I left the place
Sometimes crawling sometimes walking
A hungry sound came across the breeze
So I gave the walls a talking
And I heard the sounds of long ago
From the old canal
And the birds were whistling in the trees
Where the wind was gently laughing"

It's apt that the insert sleeve of the record featured a shot of the Pogues sailing past Traitor's Gate on the Thames. Rebellious and raucous, but stricken with a nagging sense of grief that demands to be drunken away, this is the band's dark, decaying masterpiece, the sound of an old way of life gurgling as it sinks into the quagmire...

As will your school days, kids, I promise. Don't worry, it all gets exciting and funny at 17.

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