Wednesday, April 30, 2008


G: "Tr****'s daughter, H****, came into the office with her today.  She's off school and had been to the doctor's with Slapped Cheek."

Me: "What?  Her mum had slapped her cheek?  I thought you ended up going to jail for doing that sort of thing to your kids these days."

G:  "No, it's an illness, Slapped Cheek.  You get red cheeks and end up having a fever and stuff."

Me: "I've never heard of it before.  Can adults get it?"

G:  "Well, she was past the infectious stage, but her mum could be a carrier I suppose."

Hence, er, probably, I've had rather a florid complexion for the past few days.  Not down to excessive consumption of wine, oh no.  It's because I've got Slapped Cheek, er, probably.

These days, people like to think of themselves as a malfunctioning, neurotic bundle of phobias and ailments.  Something that in days of old you would have put up with as a minor illness you now have to see as a symptom of your whole body failing, so you really ought to fork out for some bogus homeopathic treatment and get to the root of the real *cause* of it, y'know.  If you undergo some form of stress (job loss, bereavement) then it's no longer okay to work through the natural responses of depression or worry.  Oh no, you've got to put yourself through a couple of years of "pity poor me" counselling so you can let yourself know that you RILLY RILLY have suffered.

So ... anyway, it's not surprising that there are imaginary childhood diseases such as (ahem) Slapped Cheek, which no one had heard of ten years ago.  Why should children be left out of the endless cycle of suffering we have to undergo in the western world, eh?

I'm too young to have memories of, like, proper, hardcore childhood diseases such as diphtheria or whooping cough.  Them wuz the days, eh?

However, I got through the following:

Measles.  Can't remember much about it.

Chicken pox.  Don't think I was too ill.  My parents were livid because it coincided with the annual holiday in Wales.  My dad had to work at a bakery to make up the cost so we could take the holiday later.  Pigeons used to shit in the bread mix from the eaves of the bakery roof.  This is why it's probably best to bake your own bread.  Hem hem, I digress.

Mumps.  A classic!  Can still remember the exquisite pain in my neck glands to this day, and having to look as moon faced as Mariah Carey for a fortnight.

Vomiting all the time.  Best way to get back at parents for having you in the first place.  No one asks to be born, do they?

Bronchitis.  I had a disgusting cough every autumn through until spring the following year until I was about eleven because of getting bronchitis when I was five.  Plenty of time off school though - great.

Hay fever.  Glued up eyes, streaming nose, head feeling as if it had exploded, stupid red face. Started up every spring after the bronchial cough disappeared, right through until the autumn when the cough came back.   No wonder I eventually liked The Smiths (I grew out of the bronchial cough, the hay fever and The Smiths, for which I'm forever grateful).

Slapped Cheek though?  Don't make me laugh.   Stick a bit of calamine lotion on your kids and shut 'em up in the coal cellar for a few hours.  It never did me any harm.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008


Horrible *real* *life* incident the other day, in old school, realtime blogging terms.

Went outside to mow the lawn on one of the few recent rain-free days this far into spring.

Anyway, there was an enormous fish in the garden. A dead, huge, ugly, enormous, smelly fish with missing eyes and flies crawling over it.

Great. I had got to dispose of the m*therf*cker (apologies for colourful language. There are middle aged mothers who'll read this, y'know).

Geoff is beyond useless at this sort of thing and normally uses an excuse related to one of his numerous illnesses, phobias or allergies. Well, this time he was genuinely ill, so I couldn't even get into an argument with him about it ...

Anyway, it took about four attempts for me to cover it with carrier bags and put it into another carrier bag, then another carrier bag, then put it in the bin. It still smelt awful.

I'm normally reasonably fearless in dealing with unpleasant stuff. This was obviously a corpse. However, there was something primordial and savage about it ... I was convinced that it would start flipping about and bite me, despite evidence to the contrary.


Er, anyway, I was shaking for an hour afterwards. Then came the post match analysis: HOW DID IT GET THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Here are a few suggestions we pooled between us:

1. A fox dragged it into the garden.

2. It swam upstream from the River Cray in an attempt to speed up evolution (see also: that Fatboy Slim video with the apes and the fat bloke in it). Then it realised that it couldn't cope out of water and made a half hearted attempt to get into our birdbath before expiring, next to the birdbath.

3. God threw it from down from Heaven. No kidding: what's that Christian group where people put fish signs in the back of their cars? God knows I am an atheist, so THIS IS OBVIOUSLY A WARNING SIGN. I may have to go to church tomorrow morning, much as it pains me, and the service starts at some (ho ho) "ungodly" hour.

4. It was some sort of warning from, er, bloody hell, The Mafia. *shudder*.

5. It was some sort of warning from, er, bloody hell, The Freemasons, after Geoff's recent post about a Masons evening do. *shudder*. Note: not the DJs The Freemasons who are always getting their tracks played on Gaydar radio ...

6. It was a koi carp that had been taken from a pond by a heron which had flown overhead and dropped it in our garden. All I can say is - that heron must have had jaws of steel. Besides, koi carp tend to be orange or gold and quite attractive. This thing was sort of mushroom coloured with fawn and brown splodgey marks, and was as ugly as Van Morrison.

7. It was left there by a grizzly bear (only a slight possibility of this one I would think. Bexleyheath is not an outpost of Canuckistan).

If any readers have other theories I'd love to hear them.

This is us with a previous catch from the garden which we returned to its "natural" environment in the aforementioned River Cray. Oh, and I'm not The Hooker, so no cheap comments, okay?

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Saturday, April 19, 2008


It seems that the south of Britain is under a stinking cloud. Although I've not noticed it myself around here, I'm assured by the newspapers and television that everything outside smells of poo and fertiliser,  and people are feeling sick.

London has apparently not smelt this bad since The Great Stink Of 1858.

The fact that there actually was a Great Stink Of 1858 is heartening. It's an even better atmospheric condition from the history books than the Great Smog Of 1952. Still, I suppose everything (and everybody) used to stink in 1858, so who would have noticed the difference?

The Great Whiff Of 2008 will no doubt be received very enthusiastically by my favourite local newspaper columnist, Bob Ogley.  

The man Ogley is a fucking legend.  Geoff has paid tribute to his overview of punk here.  

Generally, he gets very, very excited about weather.  The Great Storm Of 1987 was probably the highlight of his life.  This is a man who wrote something along the lines of "the last classic white Christmas occurred in 1970"  "The last classic white Christmas!"  What a man!

The man, the legend, the Bob

I await his response to The Great Whiff in the local press.   Come on Bob, don't leave us on tenterhooks!

The Great Whiff is being blamed on what Alan Hansen calls "the continentals".  It could all be down to Dutch pigs, Belgian chocolate ("?") or "continental" slurry.  Apparently, a right wing movement has gone mad on the internet suggesting that it's all a "continental" conspiracy, and obviously a sign that we should get out of Europe straight away and never, ever sign up for the Euro, and they're all dead swarthy and their eyes are too close together and all.

A Dutch pig, looking untrustworthy, yesterday

Er, yeah, it's Saturday and I'm taking "inspiration" from The Guardian.

Still, if any of you have Great Whiff stories, I'd love to hear them.  The best one will win a couple of BRITISH pork chops from a local butcher.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008


It seems that a fuss is being made about this year's French Eurovision entry, because it's not being sung entirely in French.

French MP François-Michel Gonnot - a man who is obviously trying to make a name for himself, er, sorry, a man who obviously cares passionately about French culture and language, is very vocal about the fact that the song is going to be performed in English.

I'm not going to wade in with an argument one way or another.

The song is going to be sung by Sebastien Tellier, which rather goes against Eurovision tradition in itself.

This is Sebastien ...

... uh, hold on, that can't be right ...

... this is Sebastien. Denise, Denise I've got a crush on you! Nah, still not right ...

... THIS is Sebastien (a boyish but hirsute 33).

I'm listening to his most recent CD as I write this. One of the tracks is going to be the Eurovision song, which will be competing with Britain's entry (the singing binman), Ireland's song (performed by Dustin The Turkey) and Turkey's song (performed by Irishman Val Doonican). Confusing, isn't it?

Judging by this album, it seems that Sebastien transcends French or English. He sings in, 'ow you say, ze international language of lerrve.

There is a lot of moaning on the album. No, I don't mean that he's complaining about losing his luggage at Heathrow's Terminal Five, or the congestion charge.

Nope, it's moaning as in "Oh! Sebastien! You are the laydeez man, always quick with the kiss on the hand! You come and go between my kidneys! You are the only man with a beard who I will let loose on my couchette!"

(Um, hold on, a lot of ladies would let George Clooney loose on their couchette, and he's recently acquired a beard! Allegedly! Cough, splutter ...)

Anyway, Eurovision looks like it could be an interesting experience, with Sebastien, the dustman, the turkey and Val Doonican hopefully indulging in a pan-European orgy, live. Now that really would be a coming together of nations.

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Monday, April 14, 2008


Do you get on with your next door neighbours?

After years of people in the maisonettes and houses around us moving after a short period of time things are a bit more settled in our cul de sac. Best of all, we're not having any ongoing arguments with anyone, and, even better, they don't want to be our friends.

Finding that balance with neighbours is an ideal state. You say hello to them when you see them outside, but it doesn't develop into a half hour conversation.

The fact that very few people even know the names of their neighbours these days is often said to be an indication that civilisation is heading for the dumper. I'd say exactly the opposite. I hate community, Neighbourhood Watch and anyone who tells you their life story when all you want to do is mow your lawn in peace and quiet.

My parents and our next door neighbours were as thick as thieves. Well, kind of. Mr & Mrs Next Door obviously basked in the glow of the fact that they were sophisticates compared to my parents. Mr Next Door worked as an electrician, whereas my dad was a former coalminer and unskilled factory worker. One of their children had been to grammar school.

I can remember one interminable evening's entertainment round at their house, watching a slide show of their holiday in Spain.

We sat around eating sandwiches (They'd pulled out all the stops. The sandwich filling was *proper*, two-inch-thick sliced ham - even more middle class than Ye Olde Oake Hamme and way outside my normal culinary remit. Oh, and they had chunks of *proper*, boiled for fifteen hours beetroot on the side of the plates!).

Glasses of sherry were passed around among the adults. I wish I could have partaken, just to soften the blow of the boredom.

The slide show lasted for about three days. I don't know if they were aiming for the effect of those Andy Warhol films where nothing much happens for hours on end, but it's quite possible.

Mr Next Door added a few sophisticated asides while smoking a pipe. It was obvious that he saw himself as a cosmopolitan, Cliff Michelmore type.

We learned that the Spanish drink Sangria. Mr And Mrs Next Door had also been to a bullfight.

Mrs Next Door didn't even suggest that people in mainland Europe *went to the bathroom in the gutter* or didn't wash their hands before preparing food. For the mid 1970's, this was pretty advanced behaviour.

We emerged from next door into the daylight, exhausted, dusty and tearful.

My parents muttered something about Mr & Mrs Next Door attempting to "keep up with the Joneses", of course, and said that going abroad on holiday was a waste of time anyway.

From that point on, I vowed never to make friends with the people who lived next door to me.

I have been proved right.

On Sunday morning, the bloke who lives on one side of our house was doing some gardening and he was topless.

Topless gardening, on a chilly April morning. He either thinks he is Iggy Pop, or has a chest like LC, or is mad.

People who live next door to you: give 'em a wide berth.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


As blogging ennui* continues to set in like a cold, clammy sweat around a wheezing geriatric on a death bed, it's only fair that I should hand over the reins of the blog to someone else for this post. That someone else is Michael Eavis, big cheese of the Glastonbury Festival, who is going to tell you something about this year's Glastonbury lineup.

Take it away, Michael.

I'm the laughing gnome, and you can't catch me.

Um, hi everyone. Just popped in to have a few words about this year's exciting Glastonbury lineup.

There's been a lot of stuff and nonsense in the papers about, um, how the festival has gone downhill in recent years, what with the exorbitant ticket costs and our determination to stop yobs scaling over the fence and ruining it for the likes of genuine music fans such as Sadie Frost, Sienna Miller, Danny Dyer, Peaches Geldof and other esteemed celebrity guests who for me embody the real spirit of Glastonbury. Well, um, all I can say is - we'll stay tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime!

There have also been complaints about the band lineups in recent years. It has been suggested that some of our headline acts - Ruby Murray, Lew Stone & His Orchestra featuring the fragrant Elsie Carlisle, Van Morrison, Sir Cliff Richard, Stuart Gillies, The Kings Singers and Moira Anderson - may have been a little out of touch with the current music scene.

Well, um, I've taken this on board and this year have pulled out all the stops to attract a crowd of youngsters.

This year, the jewel in the crown will be Sunday night's headliner on the Urban Stage: young American rapping and scratching star Jay Zed!

In an unprecedented move, I'll actually be introducing Jay Zed from the stage myself, and have been "practising my urban patois" as I believe they say. Jay Zed - he's def and he's fresh for 1983!!!

Each day will feature one main stage, as we attempt to cut away all the fat and present, in essence, the ESSENTIAL new young music. Here is the full lineup for each night:

(All the best in new, exciting young leftfield American bands!!!)

Billy Joel
Air Supply
Jennifer Warnes
The Cars
Mister Mister
Huey Lewis And The News


(Top underground music weekly The New Musical Express brings you the best in leftfield young British music!!!)

The Senseless Things
Gay Dad
Jesus Jones
Daisy Chainsaw
The Family Cat
The Soup Dragons
Scouting For Girls
Ned's Atomic Dustbin


(Please note: anyone carrying a gun will NOT BE ADMITTED into the Urban Tent)

Wee Papa Girl Rappers ("Ennui* rule the dance!!!")
Yazz featuring The Plastic Population
Derek B
The Real Roxanne
Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen

Um, something there for everyone, I'm sure you'll agree. Surprisingly enough, there are a few tickets left, so hurry on over to the Glastonbury hotline to book now. It could be your last chance!

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Monday, April 07, 2008


It looks as if this week's blogging craze is blogging ennui, which means we all have to pretend that we're too exhausted by thinking about what motivates us to blog, the Blogging Crisis and by worrying about what's happened to all the bloggers who've given up to post anything but YouTube clips.

Of course, I hate to be left behind with whatever is the fashion, so here's an appropriate YouTube clip. Sorry about the lack of Serbo Croat subtitles.

Oh yeah, and this is one of my favourite pop promotional things - dead 1960's, midway between Marty Feldman and The Wednesday Play. Plus, it's appropriate in Blogging Ennui Week.

Hey, are we really in Bloggin' Dead End Street?

Right, you can sit there drinking foul coffee, smoking foul cigarettes, wearing black polo necks and furrowing your brows, ennui-sters. Some of us have got us tea to make.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008


Television's Later With Joooooolllls Holland returned to television screens this week, kicking off a fifty seventh series of this tremendous live music on television series.

For f*cks sake: did any else see The Only Ones? Brilliant band in the late '70s. They now all look as if they are in their late 70's, at least.

The guitarist still plays that guitar bit in the once tremendous Another Girl, Another Planet impressively enough, but Peter Perrett now sings in the style of David Rappaport trying to morph into Albert Steptoe trying to morph into Harold Steptoe. He wears horse dentures and looks like Albert Steptoe trying to morph into Keith Richard trying to morph into Peter Perrett.

He has survived a long standing drug *problem* but is the ultimate demonstration of why it's probably not a good idea to have a *problem* with drugs in the first place.

Jooolllls attempts to interview Woman Of The Moment, Adele, who advises us that, if the music career doesn't work out, she will "train to be a journalist so I can interview journalists or summink".

In the background, Lenny Henry drools. Apparently, he had been deep in conversation with Adele earlier.

"Yeah, Adele's a fit piece" said Lenny, 53. "We're more than just mates, y'know? She reminds me of Dawn when she was younger - really fun loving and a hefty lass. I like a bird with something you can grab hold of."

I'm going to listen to The Big Sleep by The Only Ones now.

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Friday, April 04, 2008


Dear LDN B'ro B'xl'y Cuntcill,

Thank you for the leaflet you have sent to us today detailing the EXCITING NEW IMPROVED RECYCLING SERVICE, which will apparently start in eight weeks time.

There will now only be a fortnightly rather than weekly delivery for non-recyclable rubbish, which I think is a vast improvement by any measure. The local maggots, mice and rats must be jumping up and down with glee now having found out that there will be all those smelly, rotting pickings available on the streets for an extra week.

It'll also be happy days for the sort of pervs who love the smell of week old corpses, especially during the summer months. London will now *actually* smell like it did during the Dickensian era, with any luck.

I'm also grateful for the fact that the recyclable waste will be collected weekly rather than fortnightly, even though there is much less of it (one or two bottles and jars, a few newspapers and, say, an empty shampoo bottle or a couple of food cans at the most despite our best efforts to recycle). It must really help to save energy and council funds, sending all those huge, gas guzzling refuse vans out onto the streets weekly instead of fortnightly, to collect a lot less rubbish than they normally would.

As someone who's part of a two person household, the new service won't make that much of a difference (provided we can keep the non-recyclable waste down to a couple of binbags a fortnight, and never go on holiday again, or miss a delivery day by chance, therefore meaning we're stuck with the same refuse for about a month). However, parents with small kids (disposable nappies ... yeeech) seem to have drawn the short end of the straw here, don't they?

We're going to get a new wheelie bin for the non-recyclable rubbish: can't wait. Wonder if you'll also provide us with a compost bin, as you took the other one away the first time we used it?

disgruntled, disaffected, Guardian reading hippy sandal munching (... well, by local standards. I'm not voting for Boris, okay?) smug, self righteous moral highground already recycling as much as possible thank you very much hag resident of LDN B'ro B'xley.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008


So, anyway, as I said in response to a comment by Timbaland, the John Howard track on the mixtape isn't that good really: a poor copy of Jobriath, who in turn was a poor copy of The Bowie. There are better songs on that album, I'm sure.

Not only is John Howard a former Australian Prime Minister, his name is also redolent of the name of a certain kind of gentlemen's outfitter from the 1970's. The sort of place that would advertise their wares on local TV with a voiceover saying "Men's Trevira slacks start at an incredible £5.99!!!!!!!! Polycotton print shirts only £4.99!!!!!! Amazing value!!!! Hurry on down while stocks last!!!!!"

I don't know if they ever ran out of exclamation marks in the stock room, but it was quite possible.

Whatever happened to the pioneering manmade fabrics of the '70's: Trevira; Terylene; Crimplene; Acrylic; Tricot; Courtelle? I'm sure there were various sub divisions such as Acrilan and Tricotine which would be carefully detailed in the Marshall Ward or John Moore catalogues that used to do the rounds of my mum's sisters' and friends' houses like a joint being passed around at a party (or a shop assistant at a Manchester Utd roasting, if you prefer a more modern reference).

All of those fabrics sounded like the names of girl groups from outer space. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that The Shirelles were named after a manmade fabric - probably that thin, diaphanous looking stuff that is used on the billowing sleeves of very, er, billowy blouses.

Thing is, after the return to fashion of natural materials in the late 1970's, were the reams of man made fabrics taken from warehouse shelves and placed in concreted underground bunkers? After all, they have a half life of five hundred years. We may all be victims of a silent epidemic. As masses of tiny Courtelle fibres float up above ground we could be breathing them in, with the consequence that we'll probably all die of horrible debilitating chest diseases in our fifties and sixties.

You don't find out about this stuff in the Real Media. Only we subversives on the underground blogging scene are willing to pass this shit on, maan.

I'll be returning to the theme of 1970's clothes shops in the next post, unless somebody of great social importance dies and I have to do an obituary in the meantime.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008


... well, it was just a bit of harmless fun, a way to kill a bit of time on a Saturday afternoon, but our first mixtape appears to be the biggest disaster on the internet at the moment.

In fact, it appears to be the first mixtape that absolutely nobody has bothered to listen to, even for three minutes while they are scraping the fungus from under their toenails before hastily switching it off and cursing under their breath.

Mind you, props to Murph who at least bothered to click through the song titles and managed to ascertain that there was a song by The Association somewhere in the middle!

I don't think it's an experience we'll be repeating. Other people's personal music tastes are a bit hit and miss anyway. Ours fall between two stools. Not obscure enough for Real Music Fans from the "mum, look what I'VE done" school, and too tuneless and awful for people who don't like music (but do like Coldplay and Adele).

Still, as is often the case with blogging, we live to fight another day, with a better insight into our fellow human beings.

Any stragglers who can be bothered can find the mix here.

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