Thursday, March 29, 2007


Isn't that a wonderful album sleeve? Positively demonic. Does it glow in the dark?

Thing is, Val Doonican always seemed to end each show in his series with his latest *45 rpm* release, and it was always quite a downbeat song that didn't appeal to my very young ears in the way that a song by The Monkees did. Presumably Val was more proud of these downbeat songs than the novelty hits that used to be regular favourites on Radio One's Junior Choice.

It's difficult to find out much about Val from the internet. I was searching for song lyrics but very few are available. One of these is, of course, Paddy McGinty's Goat: probably Val's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida or Third Stone From The Son. A jewel in the Doonican crown, as it were. Its stream of conciousness words gather their own (often bawdy) momentum and hurtle off into never before explored realms, in the manner of the other Irish master, James Joyce.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any footage of the early, angry Doonican at his finest on YouTube. I did manage to find a clip from a 1977 show where he does a duet with a pre-Grease Olivia Newton-John.

In this series I seem to remember that Val went "a bit country, not very rock 'n' roll" which is something of a cop out in my opinion. I suppose as he grew older he found it difficult to maintain the same level of energy that used to leave him so spent at the end of earlier shows that he had to collapse into a rocking chair.

Mind you, a few of you seem to like all that Americana stuff, and this clip is no worse that some of the crap that ends up on free Uncut CD's. Besides, one of the commenters on YouTube says "bless you for posting this" which makes a change from the usual "LOL LOL ugleee, ugleee - is she a man?? LMFAO." shards of wisdom you get on there.

Spread a little niceness.

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Monday, March 26, 2007


Yeah, I know, I said I was going to do another Val Doonican post and I haven't. The tears are stinging the backs of your eyes and a lump is in your throat because of the disappointment.

Don't worry, I've drafted up the next in a series of Vals, but I thought I'd keep you in suspense while I make yet another reference to what was on TOTP2 at the weekend.

There they were tootling along showing bloody Genesis feat. Collins followed by the awful Marillion (not pretentious enough to be prog. rock in the Genesis feat. Gabriel style, too lumpy and ponderous to have a tune and therefore be liked by gurlls - what's the flaming point?) when, bloody hell, who should turn up but The Fire Engines! It was an old bit of footage from BBC early eighties *youth* *arts* programme Riverside. This bit of footage in fact!

God, that was a fucking great song, wasn't it? Plus, scrawny blokes doused in baby oil and female backing singers giving themselves a double hernia trying to look cool. Heck, I used to try to get my hair to go like that - an overgrown fringe, a bucket of hair gel and half an hour hanging upside down like a bat and there you have it - all you need to induce withering comments from the aged parent about "looking like a bloody lost sheep".

Then I looked at the date when the programme was originally shown.

That was twenty five years ago, that was.


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Friday, March 23, 2007


While scraping around for new ideas (they're getting as rare as hen's teeth these days) I was commenting on a post at Billy's where he was discussing auditory hallucination. He asked readers whose voice they would like to accompany an hallucination.

This triggered off an unpleasant memory of mine, which is the *inspiration* for this awful post.

When I was about five years old, I was sat with my parents watching The Val Doonican Show on television.

Velvet Voiced Val was like a cosy security blanket wrapped around my childhood. I'm sure his shows were on television every Saturday night until I was about seven and the reality of how cruel, indifferent and cold this dog eat dog world is finally kicked in.

To anyone under the age of, I dunno, forty, it's difficult to describe the way that Val Doonican strode the earth like a colossus. Well, probably difficult to convince anyone of my age actually. He just played an important part in my life, okay?

Anyway, one night I felt a bit poorly (as five year olds tend to do for around seventy per cent of the time). This, however was ... different.

I had some sort of high fever and was put to bed ONLY ABOUT TEN MINUTES INTO THE VAL DOONICAN SHOW. Clearly, I was at death's door.

It wasn't long before I was hallucinating that Val was singing to me in his rocking chair, with a voice that was far deeper than normal. He sounded more like Paul Robeson. The rocking chair rocked harder and more insistently, and Val glared at me, his eyes ablaze and his voice booming, like a rocking chair-bound lay priest.

Into this melee stepped Pinky And Perky.

The menacing puppet pigs are trauma inducing enough in themselves. My cruel parents had decorated my bedroom with Pinky And Perky wallpaper. This featured a design of one of them playing drums, and one of them playing a stand up bass. Some sort of bebop duo set up.

In my feverish state, Pinky And Perky came out of the wallpaper and started to play the most ungodly rhythmic modern jazz racket

All this lasted about half an hour. An atonal, hundred and fifty decibel cacophony involving pigs and a crooning Irishman.

It was even more frightening than my previous hallucination, in which my parents' insurance man, Mr Baker, was scrambling over the roof of the outhouse that I could see from my bedroom window

There will be more on Val Doonican in the next post. You all deserve to suffer as much as I did.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007


Canine blogger Murph recently announced that Lol Creme of 10CC got his name because his cruel fellow band members thought his surname was so amusing they "Laughed out Loud".

As they used to say on the back of crisp packets - "well, fancy that!!!"

It's all starting to make sense now ... I've worked it out.

*ROFL HARRIS, the purveyor of wobble boards and swimming with young children in the early 1970's on television when you could still get away with that sort of thing without being arrested, was originally christened Reginald Harris, but was re-named when people saw his portrait of HRH The Queen!

*LMFAO Opik, Liberal Democrat *member* was originally christened Oliver Orville Alan Opik, but was re-named by colleagues when they found out about his relationship with the one on the left from The Cheeky Girls!!

Coming soon - the next weekly knitting pattern.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


A raven caught in one of the unseasonal snowstorms, earlier today.

This blog tends to cover the same old ground again and again. I thought - hey! I haven't done a pointless Coronation Street post for at least er ... a few weeks, have I? Always a popular choice of topic, because hardly any of you watch it, apart from someone in Canada who sees shows from about six months ago and doesn't really want to find out about future plots.

I'd just like to say that I don't like the new family that's moved in. Or is it just something to do with the terrible storylines that they've been given so far?

They comprise Sinbad from Brookside (aged fifty), his eldest daughter (who is about forty five) and two much younger children.

So far we've not found out much about Sinbad apart from the fact that he plays Compact Snap! - The Hits Collection by The Jam REALLY LOUD. Sinbad apparently used to be in a punk band with a rude name.

The idea that Sinbad And His Fifty Eight Inch waist used to be a scraggy amphetamine fuelled punk is about as convincing as the storyline where the dad of that awful Yorkshire family admitted that he'd bunked off school to see Joy Division at the Leeds Futurama festival.

As happened when the awful Yorkshire family first arrived, I'm making bets on who is going to be the first to be bumped off, and when.

It's a pity, because so far I've quite liked the Connor family, aka The Gathering Of Ravens. When they're all together, it looks as if there's a competition going on to find out who has got the BLACKEST hair - Paul, wife Carla, Kym Marsh from Hear'say, her pop eyed son or the frankly rather do-able Liam (... it's alright ... I've looked it up. He's over thirty, so I don't feel *too* unclean).

Many of the Raven Gatherings take place at Paul and Carla's flat, which ought to win some sort of award for the interior decor. With its 1960's Working Men's Club wallpaper, open brickwork and enormous chandelier it undoubtedly deserves to win this year's Most Ridiculous Furnishings On A Soap award.

Coming soon - the weekly knitting pattern.

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Editorial assistant required to say to me "you know, that's a really SHIT IDEA. You just CAN'T publish that you STUPID, STUPID woman".

Jason Isaacs lookalike preferred.

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Monday, March 19, 2007


In the interests of bloggin' democracy, I'm publishing the following exchange which would otherwise have been buried away in the comments section a couple of posts down. I'm sure Bob won't mind. He's also done a post about the Comic Relief book here.

"Once again I'm posting here because you seem not to be allowing comments on the Comic Relief stuff.

I've just posted my review of the Blog-aid book (I've ordered 17,000 copies- made of *fecking* money me....)

For all those readers too *goddamn* lazy to follow the link, here's the gist of my post:I've just finished it and, yes - it *really* is as brilliant as the blurb makes it sound!

Just thank *Christ* this annual upswell of concern for the undernourished and abused allows us to pat ourselves on the back via projects like this about how caring and concern-ed we are, is all I can say. I just hope those cadaverous African bastards realise just *how* much they should feel indebted to us - let alone the good old British banks into whose coffers the bulk of those well-intentioned donations will be going.

L.U.V. on ya - and here's to an even more successful Comic Relief 2008!!

# posted by Robert Swipe : 11:53 PM

"Bob, I didn't activate comments on the posts about the book because it seemed a bit pointless really. Nothing sinister.

The initial reason I contributed a post to the book was as a "thank you" to Mike, because he's namechecked me quite a lot on his blog for some time - it seemed a bit petulant and "ooh, look at me" to do otherwise. Oh, and yeah, of course I'd get a buzz from the idea of being in a book. Who isn't actually attracted to getting a bit of publicity for themselves in a self motivated way? I would've done it if none of the money had been going to Comic Relief (at least then I wouldn't have to justify how morally corrupt I am ...)

Maybe some of the £1600 thus far raised for Comic Relief will go towards some worthwhile project that otherwise wouldn't have received anything. A few bloggers aren't going to overthrow capitalism's reliance on third world poverty in one fell swoop, and I don't think any of them are kidding themselves that they are.

I'll say one thing: I'm a working class oik, didn't go to university, always ended up in crappy low grade clerical jobs. This is no doubt the only time in my life that I'll end up in print. I'm not getting all gushy and self congratulatory about it but it is *quite nice*. There are a lot of other bloggers who're miles more talented than me who should be getting recognition, but that's another story.

Enough: I'm poorly educated and my debating skills are fairly undeveloped. Anyone else care to offer their opinion?"
# posted by Betty : 8:35 AM

Anyway, thing is - what do you think? Any dissenting voices or are you in favour of the book? Most of you are university educated and undoubtedly better informed than I am, so I'm sure you've got something to say. Blogging should be a platform for free expression, after all. Besides, I'm buggered if I can think of anything else to post at the moment.

Of course, I'm going to look like a complete arse when I end up with (0) comments, but what the flip ...


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Friday, March 16, 2007


After a week when the BBC seems to have devoted eight hours every night to Barry From Eastenders singing Mustang Sally and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson crying, at last the waiting is over and THE FINALISTS HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED!!!!!!

Um, hold on a minute ... what I meant to say is .... SHAGGY BLOG STORIES IS FINALLY AVAILABLE TO BUY ONLINE, HERE!!!!

Time will tell if it'll actually be "so funny you'll snort a fatted calf through each nostril" but you've got to give credit to Mike and his team of helpers who sifted through mountains of posts in the past week.

Mike is currently under sedation, wearing a straitjacket and gibbering incoherently about LCD Soundsystem.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007


Most of you will be relieved to learn that posting and commenting may be fairly intermittent over the next few days. We're getting our winders replaced. Oh, and there's a check up at the dentist to face. Things could only be more fun if one of us ends up in hospital.

I hate builders or fitters doing work. Not only do you have to spend a week attempting to make the house look as if it's lived in by normal, tidy people beforehand, but you have to sit in a corner away from them, doing nothing and being scared of getting in their way.

Every half an hour I have to meekly ask them in a squeaky, timid voice if they want another cup of tea, which they always do. Then I run out of mugs and have to do some washing up while attempting to not get in their way ... there's something ... have we got enough mugs? I need to buy some more mugs! How many? Will a dozen do? Fifty? A hundred?

Oh yes, and during a tea break you inevitably end up in a stilted conversation where the gaffer tells you how difficult it is to get youngsters to train up these days because THEY ALL THINK THE WORLD OWES THEM A LIVING. Indeed, he got somebody sent from the Job Centre who *one day* he'd be able to pay a decent wage, once he was trained up, and all he did was turn up late and put in half an hour's substandard work before skiving off!

Yeah, and you can't really use your bathroom when they're around, can you? When we had our bathroom tiled, each day at around eleven o'clock we'd say "um, we're just going out for a bit" and trek off to the BHS in the town centre to have a good clear out in the toilets there. Which wasn't a very pleasant experience because pairs of old women had already stunk them out as well, after having a slice of dry cherry cake and sharing a pot of watery tea in the restaurant.

Oh no - what sort of biscuits do they like? Are they going to say "that bitch only got custard creams. We deserved the Fox's variety selection in a tin at least, what with all the graft we've put in"?

Oh, and then there's paying them. They don't want credit card or cheque transactions - they expect you to get eight grand out of the bank's hole in the wall on the same day!

I'm going off to have a good cry now.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007


I'm sure there are a few bloggers among my tiny readership who've written a post that has provoked the standard blogger response "this made me snort coffee through my nose".

(is that physically possible? Well, if you've abused cocaine for several years, perhaps ...)

If you have (written a funny post that is, not abused cocaine for several years. Well what you do in your personal life is up to you and who's passing judgement anyway?) you may be of use here .

Just go over there, right?

Friday, March 09, 2007


The population lives to a ripe old age in better health these days. Older people have a wider range of interests and plenty of them have retired early to spend six months a year in the Costas.


When I was young I was aware that, once a woman had reached the age of fifty there was nothing to look forward to but DEATH.

I'm not imagining this. My mother in law told me that her mother used to say "life is hell on earth".

HARDCOOORE! Stick that in yer pipe and smoke it, Steven Patrick Morrissey!

My own grandmother used to dish out Christmas presents in September ... October ... November ... depending on how grim the outlook was because of her personal health.

"Yerm gettin' yer Christmas box now because I don't think I'll mekk it ter Christmas" we would be told.

This happened for as long as I can remember receiving presents from her.

She died at eighty nine.

As common courtesy, I'd ask my nan how she was, and brace myself for the never ending catalogue of ailments, which could include any (but not usually all) of the following statements:

* "I'm middling." (she was always middling, whatever that was.)
* "I've been up all night heaving."
* "The doctor's given me this tonic to drink because I've been so run down."
* "I've got diarrhoea like milk."
* "I'm stiff all down this side and it goes all round here."
* "I've had this Indian Brandy but it still hasn't settled me stomach."
* "I was in so much pain with this leg last night that I had to take off the bandages that the doctor had put on."

If Miserable Old Women weren't suffering themselves then there was nothing they liked better than to gather in town while shopping to discuss Other People Who Were At Death's Door.

This is the official Top Seven of the most popular illnesses according to Miserable Old Women:

1. Massive coronary (i.e., any heart problem).
2. Sugar (aka diabetes).
3. Suffering with nerves.
4. Being a bundle of nerves.
5. Prolapse or "dropped womb".
6. Someone who you don't know, but Eileen's husband used to work with him, "having his leg off because of circulation problems, but he still won't give up smoking".
7. The Major Operation. I think this must have been a hysterectomy, but it was always spoken of in very hushed tones, in case children were listening.

The only outposts for Miserable Old Women these days are behind the counters of second hand shops. The workers will be only too happy to have conversations about some poor old bugger who went to his GP to get his indigestion checked out, only to end up in hospital, being "opened up" where it was found that he had "a growth the size of a rugby ball". Of course, he ended up dead a week later.

Still, mustn't grumble, eh?

*rolls eyes and juts chin out*

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Seen a lot in town recently ...

... young persons in student chic - charcoal grey skinny jeans, Converse, those grey slightly military looking jackets with all the pockets on, black and white bedouin scarves with the fringey bits and black and cerise dyed "I wish I was a Japanese teenager" hairdoes with loads of choppy bits.

Does this mean that B/heath is becoming middle class and soon I won't be able to pretend that I'm living on the frontline any more?


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Well, wouldn't you know it. It seems that television's Chantelle off of the telly is going to stand as a Conservative party candidate! Well, it said so on the internet's Mrs Dale's Diary weblog!




Bubbly Chantelle, twenty three, is standing on a "one nation" ticket and hopes to attract the sort of blank eyed, grunting, armpit scratching, dribbling, spitting-when-they-talk, dandruff-collared, dead-eyed twats who are confused by party politics because all the main parties have more than one syllable in their name.

Sez Chantelle, twenty three "the thing is, I thought it would be an exciting thing to do because I'm always interested in exciting new things. My mum and dad told me that in this life you only get out of it what you put into it. Life is not a rehearsal, that's what they said. Every day is like an exciting new challenge to me, and this is just like an exciting new challenge. I'm really looking forward to it. I can't stand all these whingers and moaners who complain about things but never do anything about it. Cheer up, it might never happen!"

Chantelle is pictured (above) with moody, sultry, monkey faced, sharp dressing, jailbait husband Preston of ska, rocksteady and "we've always liked the Jam and I pretend to be common even though I'm landed gentry" band The Ordinary Boys.

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