Saturday, June 30, 2007


Rest in peace, Hugh Johns.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007


Last year's summer holiday in Ibiza was ruined by my menstrual cycle.

To prevent a repeat of what is now known as Blobgate, it was decided that this year we'd go away for two weeks' holiday. Despite my body's best efforts, I can't menstruate for a fortnight.

Hooray. One less problem.

We also decided to holiday in Britain. There would be no stressful air travel, with the possibility of lost suitcases, the confusion over what you can and can't take on board, the hassle of a long journey from car to check-in to lounge to plane to customs to taxi to hotel while ... er, menstruating.

In the past few years, the weeks we've been abroad in June have always been lovely in Britain. I would come back home to find the garden parched and all my bedding plants withered away. Well, you need to change them anyway by mid June, don't you?

It was the solution that was staring us in the face! Why bother going to the Balearics or Canaries when the weather is lovely here, and the holiday will be cheaper?

So ...

On Saturday we travel to Cornwall.

My ovaries have helpfully made a few adjustments so that the menace of a long journey to the Southwest will most probably be endured on the rag.

All of the weather forecasts indicate that next week in Cornwall there will be RAIN every day.

Anyone who wants to say something about global warming will feel the back of my hand.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007


This season was once described in a Walt Disney film as "the time of togetherness" which basically means that every creature in the wild is putting it about like nobody's business. Wood pigeons have been "courting" on one particular fence post in our back garden every summer since time immemorial, several times a day. Frankly, it's not the sort of thing I want to see or hear when I'm doing the washing up - especially the male's post coital screech. Get a room, for fuck's sake!

British birdlife is fairly plain, wholesome fayre - a bit like British food. Unfortunately, we don't have gardens full of hummingbirds.

This, however, is the first of a very long series identifying some of the common garden birds that you'll find in Britain. I'll start off with a couple and then lose interest in it all together.


Identity: Brian Eno lookalike.

A greenfinch, yesterday.

Brian E.L.O. (library picture).

Song: combination of schwoops, schwerps, trilling and techno noises, possibly influenced by Higher State Of Consciousness by Josh Wink.

Habitat: seems to like large conifers. Often pictured looking photogenic on bird feeders.

Eating habits: seed eater. Often pictured looking photogenic on bird feeders. I once bought some sunflower seeds which greenfinches loved. Problem is, they'd stand on the fence spitting the coating off into next door's garden. Resolved to only buy uncoated sunflower seeds in future.

Behaviour: looking photogenic on bird feeders.


Identity: glamorous Art Nouveau mix of black, magenta, petrol blue and green shot through with glittery bits. Darker coat in summer, which isn't the logical thing, is it?

A starling tries to look thoughtful, as if watching a Jean Luc Godard film.

Song: no "song" as such, just an amalgam of "found sounds". Basically, nicks bits of song from other birds, along with stuff like car alarm noises, sounds of kids yelling, adding machines (I don't know where they get that one from, unless they all worked as wages clerks in the 1980's, which is unlikely).

Habitat: hanging around fields or gardens, heading off in all directions. At this time of year, male starlings become really macho and aggressive, starting fights with each other like tattooed nutters on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

Behaviour: my dad once described starlings rather well as "being like Italians on holiday. They hang around in big groups, are noisy and start arguments with each other".

* * * * * * *

Bill Oddie has an acute fungal toe infection.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007


"Are you a part of the problem, or are you a part of the solution? Get yer arses in gear, I haven't got all day!"

"You've got ten seconds to decide! Chinese or Indian?"

"Kick out The Jam motherfuckers! The only people who still like Paul Weller are fat cockney roof fitters!"

Yes, I'm talking about incendiary Detroit rockers MC5. Some people would say they were the catalyst for the exciting "new wave" sound that took off years later (mad, incendiary groups like The Photos, Tonight, Radio Stars and The Yachts, all of whom used to regularly decapitate people from the audience when they played "gigs"). MC5 nearly started a revolution across America all by themselves!

However, all their good work was undermined by the fact that their singer, Rob Tyner, looked like a charlady.

MC5's Rob Brydon

With his frizzy perm, gappy teeth and tendency to wear glittery blouses, it's not difficult to imagine Rob in a gingham nylon overall, grumbling about how long he has got to wait in the NHS queue to get his varicose veins done, and how those support tights aren't much help really.

Did anybody else pick up on this important addition to the rock canon (um, Charladies In Rock, in case you've already forgotten)?

Well, of course.

Once a charlady, always a charlady

Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols for one. This is his great Peter Cook/Charlady crossover performance. The one that inspired the Jonathan Coe novel The Fucking Rotters' Club.

Since the '70's, however, sightings of Rocking Charladies have been pretty rare.

However, that all changed earlier this year with the arrival of Just Jack, who took the hit parade by storm with his song Starz In Their Eyes.

Just Jack with granddaughter: "She's ever so clever. She's doing that - what do you call it? Media Studies With Combined Photography, that's it, at college."

Not only does Jack have the classic pinched charlady features, the hectoring tone used in the song sounds like a nagging,chainsmoking old woman ...

"Why do you want to go and put stars in their eyes?
When I was their age I wasn't gallivanting about in front of that Simon Cowell
Looking like a trollop.
When I was their age I was working down the pits.
I remember when I got me first wages at the end of the week - a whole thruppenny bit!
I felt like a princess.
They don't know the value of anything these days.
She's no better than she should be.
Money goes to money, that's what I always say.
Still, mustn't grumble, eh?
I'll have to go in, I've left some peas boiling on the hob."

Has anybody else seen any Charladies In Rock? It's important that this long overlooked rock 'n' roll byway gets the recognition it deserves.

"Can I do yer now sir?"

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