Friday, September 30, 2005


As expected, yesterday's music post went down like the proverbial lead balloon, so you'll be overjoyed to know that I have further ideas for music-related gubbins in the pipeline. You will be chewing your fingers down in boredom.

First up, my very late, last-person-on-the-bandwagon response to the Bob Dylan documentary. The director of, erm, No Direction Home was the great Michael Winner (younger readers should be made aware that Michael Winner is best known as that bloke off the car insurance ads. He also looks like Jamie Oliver's wife). Unfortunately, I've only managed to plod through about 30 hours of the documentary so far, so I can't give you a full insight into what makes Bob tick. Instead, to save time for those of you who are only vaguely interested in Dylan, here is a list of the key events in his history.

24th May 1941
Bob is born Robert Albert Egbert Norbert Zimmermum in Duluth, Minnesota.

April 1945
Bob receives a mouth organ as a present from his old mum. Now, most of us have owned one of these, and most of us have lost interest in them after a couple of days of annoying our parents with tuneless parping and dribbling saliva out of the one end. Bob, however, took it VERY seriously indeed. Oh dear.

January 1958
Bob, disillusioned with small town life, travels all the way to New York to seek recognition of some sort. Unfortunately, heavy snow and freezing temperatures make his journey long and hazardous. Daft sod, he should've travelled in summertime, shouldn't he?

January 1959
Bob arrives at "the crossroads" where the likes of Robert Johnson sold their souls in exchange for musical talent. Once again, his journey is delayed because of adverse weather conditions. Silly old sausage! Bob exchanges his soul for that of Woody Allen, and sings in a nerdy whiney voice for the rest of his natural born as a result of this. Woody Allen still plays the mouth organ in private, to this day.

June 1961
Bob first meets Joan Baez, the Gracie Fields of folk music. A match made in musical heaven.

Bob's career is taking off into orbit. Having ditched all that electrical equipment all those years ago he is coining it at the helm of the new folk movement of nice middle class young people who can really relate to the poor, the dispossessed and the colored folks. It's a revolution, believe me!

According to counterculture poet Alan Ginsberg Bob Dylan is now "merely a column of air" when he performs on stage. Hopefully Bob contacted Colin Griffiths Air Conditioning Units (Cannock Wood, Staffs.) about this.

Bob walks into the Colombia Studios, New York, heading for Studio A. He walks into a broom cupboard by mistake. Never fear, he realizes the error of his ways and finds the right studio. He records "Like A Rolling Stone", which many people in their '50's believe to be the greatest pop single of all time, ever, no contest.

After having ditched all that electrical equipment, he realizes the error of his ways and gets it all back on the HP. A tour of Britain with his backing band, the Ronnie Barker Combo, leaves audiences booing, throwing rotten tomatoes and shouting "Judas! Judas! Where's yer silver! Bob Dylan is not a pop group!" Daft apeths. Classic documentary "Don't Look Back" directed by Danny Baker is made. The Ronnie Barker Combo ditch Ronnie Barker AND Bob, and go on to become The Band, recording classic albums like The Music From Kissing The Pink

After his mysterious motorbike accident, Bob returns with the album Nashville Skyline, where, as a result of the accident (so we're told) he starts singing in an even more ridiculous voice which was copied to great effect by the weatherman Martin Dawes some years later.

Classic album Blood On The Tracks released. A heartfelt response to his long and painful separation from his wife Goldie Hawn. We don't get to hear her side of the story, do we?

The rest of the 1970's and 1980's
Disillusioned with life, Bob believes that Christianity may provide an answer to all the problems. Then he becomes a Buddhist and joins a retreat. Then he becomes a Muslim. Then a Hindu. He becomes a Mormon and tours with the now very beardy Osmond Brothers. He becomes an atheist and curmudgeonly old git.

The 1990's
Bob almost dies after catching a respiratory disease from his chickens. It's that old problem with the column of air again, isn't it?

Bob makes the No Direction Home documentary and falls comatose watching a playback of Alan Ginsberg and Tom Clancy talking about him.

Phew. If you thought THAT was a long trudge, you should have watched the documentary.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Every so often I have to do a music post, so I'm going to get it out of the way for a bit now. This will alienate virtually all of you: those who dislike music and those who like music but reckon you have impeccable taste (face it, most music lovers believe they have impeccable taste). My own musical preferences these days are the equivalent of that old woman who hangs around outside the off license threatening to let the teenage boys who take the mick out of her see what is up her skirt.

A playlist then. You can all all screw up you pert little Sienna Miller-like noses in disgust. Like the view up the old woman's skirt, it is not a pretty sight.

Don't Cha - The Pussycat Dolls
The nation's number one. Not as good as the version I first heard previewed for a couple of weeks on Tim Westwood's show. It was accompanied by his usual sound effects: that bloke telling you to haul your ass out of the room if you don't like strong language; klaxon noises; a voice saying "PUUUULLL UUUUUP!" repeatedly; the sound of a car apparently crashing into a wall; Westwood himself shouting "say it Busta!!" overenthusiastically. Still the best pop single of the year though.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidda - Iron Butterfly
Song apparently named after a drug addled fool attempted to say "in the garden of Eden" to a member of Iron Butterfly at a psychedelic "happening". Completely daft.

Pon De Replay - Rihanna
Second best single in the top ten.

We Be Burnin' - Sean Paul (aka Shaaan-A-Paaal)
Third best single in the top ten. Return to form for the chipmunk-faced former water polo player. Lyric recommends the legalization of Mary J, whatever that is.

Music - John Miles
Made me feel like crying when I heard this on Spanish radio recently, because music is my first love, and it will be my last. Everyone of a certain age has to come to terms with the fact that this song is magnificent.

The Deram Anthology - David Bowie
There is normally an album by the one-time very delectable Mr Bowie (well, before he had his teeth straightened, anyway) on the go, but I've swung back to the earlier stuff of late. This is horribly twee in places, with all that Laffing Gnome stuff and bloody Hermione Fotheringay or whatever her name is. That's part of its charm though. Includes the fine early version of "Space Oddity". I remember a promotional film for this in which David sang "tell my wife I love her very much" while cavorting with a couple of space age dolly birds. Ding dong!

Dare - Gorillaz
Decreed in our house as not being as rubbish as their usual stuff. Gorillaz are a cartoon band, but, and not many people know this, they are actually teen street tearaways Damon Albarn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Alan Yentob and Martin Amis. Fifteen ASBOs between the lot of 'em!

All By Myself - Eric Carmen
Big hair, enormous song.

Love Kraft - Super Furry Animals
Now been going for so long that every album they bring out is described as "a return to form". Fairly good, as usual. Single Laser Beam is one of their best, however.

In Search Of Space - Hawkwind
Knockdown bargain from HMV. Good for everything that ails you.

Late Registration - Kanye West
Actually, I have a complaint about this one. There are probably three great albums in here, but in itself it is too long for someone with my short attention span. After the seventh hour of listening to it, I feel like punching Kanye in the face, which is very nasty of me as he had his jaw wired together after that car accident.

Coming soon: my long, very earnest post on the recent forty hour Bob Dylan documentary, directed by the great Michael Winner. Judas! Judas! Show us yer backside!

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Bought a copy of the Independent on our return to Britain as the all-new Berliner Guardian had sold out. Later bought the Guardian at Clacket Lane services. I now have two autumn fashion supplements telling me that I must dress like Kim Novak for the next few months, or, alternatively, must wear a skirt which looks like a sack of potatoes. "It requires an adjustment of the style radar" the writer admits. "Try before you dismiss" she adds later in more upbeat mood. The best guide is to look at the pictures accompanying the article. The conclusion is not encouraging. As the Sack Of Potatoes skirt makes even beautiful, willowy 17 year old models look, well, silly at best, how is the fashion industry going to persuade human beings to wear it?

* * *

In the Independent, meanwhile, was a headline declaring that fifty per cent of bloggers find that blogging is therapeutic. No evidence to back this up, just the stark "facts". Fifty per cent though - nice round figure, eh?

I've worked it out. Obviously, the in depth research had been carried out in the Independent office, with help from two bloggers (not on the editorial staff, naturally, but in more menial jobs).

One of them has a very successful blog. Recently she has fallen in love again after going through a messy divorce which was the source of much confessional on-line writing. She would get endless supportive and sympathetic comments and e-mails from other bloggers on each post ("oh, baby, you're well rid of this guy!" Katy of Oklahoma cooed. "Create some me time. There's a really great guy out there for you and you DESERVE him" said Fierce Babe from Montreal.

So of course SHE found blogging therapeutic.

The other person, however, was more like me and admitted that blogging had turned them into a neurotic mess.

Odd to think that for around a year I was noodling along with a blog used as something to impress a few friends with and nothing more. How could I have been so apathetic?

Then the descent into madness began. I joined Britblog. Felt compelled to check the Britblog charts each day to make sure I wasn't in the bottom ten (I was, one day, and felt mortified). Started checking out other blogs, which were much better than mine. Enabled comments on my site. Started comparing myself to popular bloggers and started to feel bitter. Huh! Blogger X has only to put up a post saying "Well, decided not to go down the pub tonight - got a takeaway and caught up with some stuff on Sky Plus", only to get bloody 50 comments along the lines of "ooohh, maaan, you TELL IT LIKE IT IS BRUV - you-tha-MAN!!!!"

Worse than this, I started sending comments to other people. It must be something to do with trying to overcompensate for my years of social phobia. I can cut the awkwardness with dealing with people in real life out! Mingling at a party full of strangers? A complete nightmare. Butting into people's conversations with each other in cyberspace? No problem.

STILL, I only comment at sites I like about things that interest me, and haven't trawled around saying "hey, LERVE your blog, have linked to you over at mine!!! xx". I know I'm showing off, and I know I'm boring people, but I'm not THAT much of a comments whore ... am I?

The very worst thing, though, is getting a couple of site meters. This allows me to feel encouraged on the occasional days when viewing figures are slightly higher than expected, only to see them inevitably slump back again. Someone in Thailand spent zero seconds on my blog after an engine search for "Lisa-Scott-Lee-sweaty-feet". Oooh, that's nice. One site I admire is linked here, even though most people would think I'm too dim to read it (they are right about the dim part, of course). Didn't think the writer would ever bother to look at my crap site, but ... he must have checked his "who links here" gubbins, spent 26 seconds on here and must have departed, uttering the word "execrable" to himself. Very embarrassing.

Still, having a crisis of confidence about twenty times a day keeps you on your toes. But no, I wouldn't describe blogging as therapeutic.

To summarize, these days I often feel like I did when I was turned down for the year's netball team when I was about nine, having to watch my friends playing from the sidelines. Possibly not appropriate behaviour for someone in middle age.

To paraphrase Samuel Beckett "I can't go on, I can't go on, oh knickers, I'll think about it".

Thursday, September 22, 2005


One of the enduring memories of the Madrid holiday is that a stranger got into our room at three thirty in the morning.

I'm normally a light sleeper, so it was a surprise that the husband was the first to notice this. I thought he was talking in his sleep, but he had actually got out of bed and was saying something to the bloke who was in our room.

The next thing I heard in my barely awake state was what sounded like someone running a plastic ruler along a radiator (as remembered from school). I found out later that this was the sound of the door being closed, veeery slooowly. Obviously your man was trying to make a very quiet exit, but it had the opposite effect.

"What did you say to him?" I asked Mr Betty.

"Hello" said Mr Betty. Odd thing to say to someone who was a potential kidnapper, thief or murderer.

"I saw him in the doorway - he didn't look very tall" said Mr B.

"He could have been one of those short blokes who is built like a brick shithouse - Tom Jones or one of them rugby players" I retorted, hysterically.

Now I'm pretty certain that the bloke must have been pissed and had made a mistake, but it was still fairly disturbing. Mainly because it proved that the keycards were the same and could open any door. We also found out later that the inside door lock didn't work either, so there was no way to stop someone getting in. Is this commonplace in hotels which use cards instead of the more traditional keys?

We spent the rest of the stay with a suitcase up against the door and a Glock by the bed* to defend ourselves if an intruder should attack. I was also a bit concerned about someone nicking stuff during the daytime. A bit daft as our worldy goods don't amount to much and the clothes in our wardrobe were more Primark than Prada.

So, the husband forked out all that money for a four star hotel, reassured that it would be reasonably secure. All an illusion, though. A very busy and obviously profitable place too, but it was decided that it was more important to cut costs by not having individual locks for doors, thus compromising the safety of its customers. Why doesn't this surprise me very much?

The name of this establishment? Well, it's unlikely that they'll sue my ass for putting off potential customers, but I'm going to be all coy about it just the same. Let's just call it Hotel U.S. state famous for its oranges, Spanish word for north.

Bear this in mind if you are ever staying in Madrid.

* artistic license used for dramatic effect.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Soon I will get back to the heavyweight posting that both of you know and love me for - the swaggering political analysis that cuts through all the flim flam. I'll be telling you about my insight into China's amazing rise as an economic superpower, and will predict how Germany will fare if there is a coalition government. I will probably talk about radiant English rose Kate Moss and her fall from grace into join the dots tabloid cocaine hell.

In the meantime, I will explain my itinery since returning from Madrid.

I painted the door (again). The second coat went on all uneven and looks as if it was the work of a seven year old. Oh bloody bollux.

I did about 80 loads of post-holiday laundry.

We did the weekly Asda shop.

Went to the dentist for a scale and polish. Was held up by previous customer being very late. Dentist hit that nerve with his scraper. Grggg.

Went to bloody Ikea. The Thurrock branch now has "Smaland, the enchanted forest, situated by the Market Hall area". Presumably this is where people dump their brats so they can shop in relative peace. Unfortunately not enough of the customers had taken up this idea to make my shop relatively peaceful. After about a day and a half, piled stuff up on trolley, joined long queue (it was chocker in there. Does everyone now take days off work just to shop at Ikea?). Jostled for space in parking bay. Got home, eventually.

Husband assembled flatpack chair with his usual DIY comment "this isn't flush". Living room now completely full of cardboard packaging which we will have to take to the tip.

Husband opens packaging of cd rack towers. There has been a cock up on the Ikea storage front. They are DVD towers, and we will have to take them back tomorrow.

So, tomorrow we have to visit the mother-in-law, Ikea and the tip. Nothing could be worse now, unless I am invited, on pain of death, to a toddler's birthday party in the capacity of "auntie".

I am now going to run amuck in the streets with one of the DVD towers.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Well I will be off to Madrid for a short break. This must be a relief for all those bloggers who have to put up with my smug remarks and end of the pier humour in their comments boxes and will also explain why I won't get back to anyone commenting here (it's not because of my being a stuck up bitch, for once).

I'm still packing the suitcase, a long and arduous process - I'm with Wyndham The Triffid's missus on this one. You can never pack too much really, despite the tiresome weight limits imposed by airlines. Don't they realise you have to take several wardrobes full of clothes for a week long stay? All this is completely different for the husband of course who packs everything in about 10 minutes, and never forgets anything.

We will be visiting museums, galleries and stuff - in other words, attempting to be middle class and failing miserably. Oh, and obviously I will also be trying to spot Posh and Becks. David Beckham has come up with the celebrity quote of the year recently:

"I'm not going bald. I'm really happy with my hair and am looking forward to trying out lots of new hairstyles".

Good on you David.

I'm hoping to spot some good outfits in the windows of ladies' fashion shops. There are some very distinctive women's fashions in Spanish speaking towns I've visited for some reason, but I'm worried that Madrid may be a little too classy and tasteful. I saw a wonderful electric blue flared chiffon catsuit in the window of a shop in Majorca which might have been the kind of thing Nancy Dell 'Olio would wear to an F.A. dinner and dance. Even better was a turquoise patterned combo of floor length culottes and cropped halter neck top, which I could see the singer Rafaella Cara wearing for a one off television special circa 1975 (with really massive hessian wedged sandals, probably). That was on Gran Canaria. Do Italian women have to travel that far to find such garish outfits?

I will return with back ache from all that standing around in art galleries trying to look earnest and thoughtful.

Take care, but not too much.

Friday, September 09, 2005


I am deliriously happy. The first album I ever owned, a 1971 copy of a Top Of The Pops compilation, had a message on the back which just about sums it up. Something like "Hey! We feel like climbing to the top of the highest mountain and cheering!" All because one of their previous daft collections had sold a quarter of a million records, apparently. Anyway, I also feel like running anti clockwise down the hard shoulder of the M25.

I will come down to earth with a bump within the next 24 hours, with any luck. Thing is, I have finally painted the front door.

I have been meaning to get around to this pesky job for a few months now. The door was as cracked and plastered as me at 1.00 am every Saturday (...sorry). Possibly this is down to global warming and extreme weather conditions, but it is a flaming inconvenience.

When I first purchased the paint I made sure that at least a week's rain had been forecast, thus giving me a good excuse to put off the inevitable. However, with autumn fast approaching and a holiday imminent (more of which later) I had to bite the bullet.

The paint is apparently "Deep Red" but could more accurately be described as "Goth Lipstick". The good thing is that it it is so dark it hides the numerous drips. The bad thing is that it was very thin and I made a right Jackson Pollock of the job. Plus, the thin consistency means I'll have to apply a second coat, but I don't want to contemplate that in my current mood of smug self satisfaction.

But by heck, I am aching all over. What I could really do with is a steaming and soothing hot bath, preferably followed by an oily massage from Thierry Henry; over the rest of this daydream I will draw a discreet veil. Can't have a bath though as I've got to leave the front door open 'til the paint dries, in case robbers decide to nick the laptop or the picture of the Laughing Cavalier in a photo frame.

The fumes from the white spirit and the gloss have got to me, though, and I'm silly and excitable. I have tried to think of really depressing things:

Frank Skinner singing
The Morecambe Tourist Board site
A Tony Gubba football commentary
Those women in offices I've worked in who wear dowdy cardigans and Scholl exercise sandals and sniffle incessantly
Yorkshire Terriers

Contemplating all of these at once still fails to drag me back down into the doldrums. I shall endeavour to live through it and will hopefully be as drear as ever within a few hours. The alternative is too terrible to imagine.

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