Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Blogging in its purest sense ought to be about keeping a diary of your day to day business, which is the way most people like it, which means the internet is clogged up with mind boggling tedium along the lines of how Nathan is going out for a drink with Olly and Emily tonight, or how Kelly has got to get an essay in for tomorrow which she hasn't started yet and it is, like, 3.30 in the morning. Even the famous people who have got in on the blogging act seem to write about their daily routines in a really plodding style rather than talking about their insecurities, their cocaine problem, their plastic surgery disasters and depraved group sex. I mean, if their lives are dull and boring, what do the rest of us have to aspire to?

Still, I really ought to make an effort to keep to the blogging straight and narrow every so often, and must cut down on the references to rubbish 1970's television, my tragic poverty stricken childhood and loads of stuff which Americans who would happen upon the site (very unlikely, really) would not be able to understand because it is too parochial.

Therefore, I will tell you wot I done this weekend.

Basically, I went shopping for a kettle. What a revelation. I think I must have gone out of the loop when it comes to knowing about kettles. These days, companies that manufacture them all seem to be aspiring to some sort of design classic. The day of the humble plastic jug style of kettle is over and out. The process of boiling water is no longer straightforward.

My husband, who is more up on these things, informed me that you can now buy kettles without an element - a real boon for us, as the water in our London outback is made up of 80% limescale. The element in our last kettle was impervious to descaler and had started to resemble a chilly Norweigian tundra. Looking for a kettle without an element, however, was the least of our problems.

There are any number of designs available - short kettles, tall kettles, titanium kettles, copper kettles, clear glass kettles, big kettles, little kettles. The amount of choice is mind boggling. Of course, we chose the wrong one. We were informed by the shop assistant (a youth whose resemblance to the young Richard Attenborough in "Brighton Rock" was uncanny) that it was The Last One In Stock, although there was a similar one with an element in the Bank Holiday sale. He did all the tradional shop assistant things: going in the back for several minutes, looking at some boxes on a shelf which was inaccessible to anyone under 8 foot tall, going into the back again, asking one of the other assistants to take over at the till, then offering us the display model, then packing it in the box with the guarantee, instructions etc while a long irate queue formed behind us.

It makes one hanker for the days of the old style of hardware store, where a bald thin bloke in a manila overall with a pencil behind his ear would know exactly where all the stock was because it had been there since 1958. Still, that's just me looking backwards not forwards again, and I did vow to turn over a new leaf (for today, anyway).

Anyway, the kettle isn't too showy but it does the job despite being quite noisy. The titanium finish means it reflects the kitchen in a distorted, almost psychedelic way, and when I look into it I resemble the BBC's long-cheekboned ex-royal correspondent, Jennie Bond (hmm - another parochialism, I'm afraid).

The one problem is that it will probably need to be cleaned more often - a sloosh round with the washing up water will not do. I will no doubt end up polishing it as lovingly as some old bloke who is tending a trophy he won for a cycling race in his teens.

The only conclusion I can reach is that kettles are the household equivalent of handbags - the issue of practicality has now been put aside as people strive for the showiest design. Has Louis Vuitton started "doing" kettles yet? The time to worry is when I clean out the kettle and about a hundred shopping receipts, some ancient shredded tissues and a two year old dried up lipgloss are retrieved...

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Today, apparently, we stand on the cusp of one of those awful displays of bad taste on behalf of the British public. We can get by on a diet of "I'm A Nonentity, Get Me Out Of Here" programmes on the telly (at the moment, the all-new, three month long "Big Brother" run has just started, vying for our attention with "The Farm" and "Celebrity Love Island"). Abi Titmuss, Vernon Kay and G4 can have really healthy bank balances, but there comes a point when we have to concede that, as a nation, we are lacking in discretion when we decide who we really, really love.

Yes, today we will find out that Coldplay have not reached number one with their great comeback single, on which the whole record industry's hopes are pinned. Instead, it is being outsold about five to one by the Crazy Frog/Axel F thing.

Harrumph. I wonder who these People Of Discernment And Taste really are? A silent majority, quietly suffering as Chris Martin loses the chance to get his just desserts, cruelly pipped to the post by an animated amphibian on an imaginary motorbike.

The Crazy Frog ringtone is now worth about 10 million quid or thereabouts, and was kicked into life by a Swedish bloke in a studio in a forest somewhere, when a mate of his gave him a tape of a faulty moped engine to sample. See, already sounds more interesting than anything Coldplay would come up with.

As you might have guessed, I'm on the side of the frog. He has something of Lemmy about him, and therefore is a lot more rock 'n' roll than Chris Martin (the singing vicar). Besides which, after about 6 months of that ringtone advert being shown five times an hour on the box, his genitals were censored. I can just imagine the furious call made to MTV Base at 1.30 in the afternoon from an outraged grandmother from Northampton ... "I wouldn't mind, I'm not a prude myself but what makes me angry is that I might have to explain it to my little 3 year old grandaughter who I'm babysitting at the moment" (... cue sound of brat screeching in the background). That's probably all it took to ensure that we no longer see his genitalia. Oh, and every nine year old in the country does a very bad impersonation of the ringtone, it seems.

What's not to like about the frog? Coldplay, on the other hand ...

Their attempts to weld Abba's "Thank You For The Music" to Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" have obviously sold bucketloads of cd's, and they have discovered the rock band's holy grail. Yep, here's the first indie band to appeal to women. Not "indie girls" or "student girls" but mopey career women in their late 20's who have loads of disposable income but are still on the lookout for, ahem, a man who is as sensitive and dishy and self-effacing as Chris Martin to have babies with. Oh, and he really really cares about making poverty history and making trade fair as well!

Any road, Coldplay aren't that bad of course - mainly in relation to the other bands who have followed in their wake. There are slumber-rock bores Athlete - "I've got wires sticking out of my arse" - well, you certainly will when I have finished with you, sonny Jim. Then there are those purveyors of the very worst kind of early 1970's drippiness, Keane. Dear God, their singer, with his half-boiled suet pudding of a face, is possibly the most unalluring frontman of all time.

Judging by the huge sales of albums by these bands, the record industry must be glad that there has been a return to true values in music - qualidee product from real musicians who have a long career trajectory. Yes, meet the new Rock And Roll Aristocracy. Even Oasis can be lumped in with them now that Liam had dropped that sneer from his voice and is a contented family man. Being very old, I'm reminded of some tabloid story about a mid '80's party which was "packed with rock royalty - the likes of Eric Clapton and the Geldof-Yateses mingled with the Princess Of Wales". Hell on earth, basically. With Live Aid 2 on the way, you can be sure that the likes of Coldplay can feel grateful that they are now fit to be seen in the same light as geniuses of music such as Sting and Phil Collins, despite their callow years. Are we really hurtling towards another 1986, the worst year ever for music?

In the light of all this, who can begrudge the Crazy Frog his moment of glory?

Old folks, get some perspective and remember the last time we were in this place and People Of Discernment And Taste were saying "we wuz robbed!".

Ultravox's "classic" (i.e., pompous load of bollocks but in retrospect quite funny) "Vienna" was kept off the topspot by Joe Dolce's "Shaddap Ya Face". Who's laughing now then?

Friday, May 06, 2005


Unlike him at http://geoffsdreamblog.blogspot.com I don't keep having these dreams, you see.

Instead, this morning I woke up after an undisturbed night and immediately thought of B.A. Robertson and Maggie Bell doing "Hold Me" on Top Of The Pops, circa 1980.

B.A. Robertson and Maggie Bell doing TOTP is one of the worst things of all time. It is an amalgamation of various awful elements combining to produce something unspeakable.

B.A. Robertson was a Scottish singer songwriter of the late 1970's who had produced a number of annoying "humorous" songs in the manner of someone in their late '20's who had heard The New Wave music and had rather liked the idea of it, if only the band members were proper musicians who had learnt their chops. He wore baggy double breasted jackets, skinny ties and skinny jeans, in the manner of someone who is getting on a bit but can appreciate a bit of New Wave ("Okay, fair enough, the Pistols have taken things too far but Elvis Costello and the Police are almost as good as the Eagles!!!"). This satorial tendency, thankfully, has all but died out nowadays with the exception of Jeremy Clarkson (enough said). Robertson had the vile habit of sinking his hands into his jacket pockets with the thumbs sticking out. All of these things must surely point to him being one of the most thoroughly disreputable fellows ever to appear on the British stage, before he even opened his mouth.

Oh, yes, and he also has a big chin. I know this is really lookist, but some people can carry a chin like an ironing board. He could not.

Then there is his accomplice in Hell, Ms Maggie Bell (do you see what I did there?). In the cliched style, she could be described as a "veteran white blues belter" - are there four words combined in the English language which offer such little promise of enjoyment of any sort? In an equally cliched manner, she could also be described as a "fiery ball of energy". I think we know where we are by now: she had a voice like a foghorn and that was about it really.

The song "Hold Me" appears to have been something from the late 1950's or early 1960's - er, I appear to be treading similar ground to a recent post. Once more, I'm clueless as to its origins and rue the times I didn't concentrate on "Jimmy Saville's Old Record Club" ... I have a feeling Johnny Kidd and the Pirates might have recorded it, but don't quote me on it.

In the hands of Robertson and Bell, it stood no chance.

Still, I try to see life as a half full glass rather than a half empty one. No, REALLY.

Having endured seeing Robertson and Bell do their awful thing on the telly, I emerged as a far stronger person, able to face the challenges presented by the drab '80's music to come, from Duran Duran at the beginning of the decade to Craig McClaghlan doing "Hey Mona" at the end.

From darkness came light. And from pain came forth strength.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


The day before the general election. Remember all those people who queued up for ages and ages during the first democratic election in South Africa? Well, forget about that - this is Great Britain.

Forget, also, about the media debate about whether or not Tony Blair was lying about WMD's when sending our troops out to Iraq, and whether or not the Conservatives would have been more "honest" if they had been in charge (hmmm ... well, what do you think, given their great track record for honesty when they were last in power?). Iraq will not influence the votes cast by the majority of the public in tommorow's election. Here are the real issues at the centre of the thinking of the great British public, in order of importance.

1. Whoever is elected should send all asylum seekers back to their country of origin so we are not seen as a laughing stock and a soft touch around the world, but only if they are of swarthy or, ahem "coloured" appearance. Asylum seekers from nice countries like Norway or Germany can, of course, stay here.

2. People who work in hospitals have to wash their hands more often, so as to stop the spread of MRSA to people such as the lovely but tragic actress Leslie "Guppy Mouth" Ash. Although, in reality, now that we have sent all the asylum seekers back to where they came from, there will be so few NHS staff that they will barely have time to wipe their arses, let alone wash their hands every 2 minutes.

3. Teachers should discipline children who are all foul mouthed louts who set fire to the back of people's hair on buses and put dog muck through pensioner's letterboxes. Of course, loutish behaviour is all down to silly woolly brained liberal teachers, and it's not up to parents to discipline their own children, oh no.

4. The new Government should stop that dreadful smell of the drains which wafts over from about a mile away, but no one knows what it is exactly.

5. Jamie Oliver should be given a knighthood for bravely making the Government raise the amount of money spent on each child's school meal from 37p to 54p, or something in that region. We can all sleep easy in our beds because now all children will grow up to be nicely spoken and will get MA's at Oxford.

6. The plans to stop the local horticultural group meeting at the scout hall every second Wednesday night due to lack of funds should be shelved. It is a bloody disgrace.

7. There should be less local roadworks.

8. The local roads should be improved.

9. The Government should get rid of that skip outside number 18, with the mattress in, which has been there for at least 3 weeks. A child could fall into it and it is an eyesore.

10. The eternal cry of the decent, hardworking family types who party leaders keep banging on about as the people they are trying to appeal to: "I want the best medical treatment as promptly as possible in the world, on the NHS, and the best possible education for my children, and the best transport system, and the best road infrastucture, and lovely green fields everywhere, and no pollution, and more police on the beat. And I don't want to pay more in taxes".

Tomorrow night, raise a glass for Britain, and for democracy. It may not be much, but it's all we've got to be grateful for.

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