Thursday, 28 June 2007

Thuggery new and old

I have a Facebook account, although I'm not quite sure how the bleedin' thing works right now. But if anyone reading this knows anything about adding themselves to my paltry one friend so far, then fabulous. A quick tutorial wouldn't go amiss neither, so I can begin to network with gusto. As if to make sure my head wasn't turned by crazy thoughts of social interaction, and progression, and Bebo and RSS Feeders, I then witnessed a racist fight in my local corner shop, JSK Minimart. Thug erupted over white lightning, uttered racist cobblers, followed by harassed owner grabbing a plastic baseball bat, shputing expletives and then, strangely, throwing a packet of crisps at him as he beat a retreat. Now that's interaction how it used to be done. All this Facetalk bobbins ... isn't it all a bit CB Radio?
Listening: Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman; Dee's Trojan Ladies comp (amazing stuff); The Decemberists (their grimey sea shanty album The Crane Wife lasts exactly the length of my journey from Hull to Barton on bike, and is perfect for splashing through floody puddles to); The Cribs; Costello, Cramps, lots of Jim Naughtie on Radio 4

Brown Wednesday

And so the "work of change" begins. Thanks, then, Gordon, for immediately making me think of The Scorpions "Winds Of Change". I expect there'll be plenty of whistling in the weeks ahead from yer Darlings and yer Balls. But at least Brown has the gravitas and ability to operate above and outside of the spin. On another note, who would ever assume that Tony Blair would spend the last but one day of his coiffured half truth term with Arnold Shwarzenegger, talking kindergarten crap. At this rate, you'll need a passport to get into Glastonbury and Michael Jackson would be penniless. Oh ... yeah.

Rufus Wainwright sings

I don't know about you, but I thought this piece of Rufus cabaret at Glastonbury was fabulous. High camp, showbiz and giant balls all thrown into an ersatz tumbler.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Up a gum tree

You've gotta feel sorry for our crotchety old sub Tom. Yesterday, his car was submerged in water when the Lud burst its banks. Undeterred, he phoned the AA and got himself to Millets, where he snaffled the last pair of £7.99 wellingtons. He came back to the office. And waited.And waited. And subbed the odd page. And waited. At 9pm (yes, I know) he was told by the AA that they couldn't get out to see him. So he trudged to the car, only to find it knee-deep in water. Then, he left the wellies in the passenger seat and called a taxi. Returning to the car today, he found it had been broken into and the wellies stolen. The vagabonds had ignored everything else. It could have just been some kind of gum-induced envy. But I know that Tom will be scouring the feet of every n'aer do well for weeks to come and a right melee will ensue if he discovers the wellingtons he never got to bed in.

Monday, 25 June 2007

From the Blitz to the shitz

Louth was on flood alert today (59mm of rain in an hour - rattly old weather ed). We knew this because every 15 minutes the old siren last used in the Blitz was cranked up and released upon the town, wailing its deathy banshee screech upon us all. Those worst affacted were the OAPs living near the River Lud, and can only imagine what it must have been like hearing that sound again. Be nice to report a solidarity in the face of godly adversity, but the floods just seemed to bring out more nutters, semi-naked and fuming with bulldogs, to the town. On the way into work a woman on a bike was cycling up to passing cars and uttering short sentences: "Cars. Two.Feet.Of.Water.Turn. Around. Nowwwww." The forebringer of apocalypse on two wheels. Later, Martin, the office madman, said that if I couldn't get home, he'd let me sleep with him. I ran for the car and applied the gas.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Leave before the Lights come on

It wasn't Glastonbury, admittedly, but our weekend involved a tale of two very different Yarkshire cities. On Saturday, a stroll through "our manor", Spring Bank West, which seems to be morphing into a close approximation of East Berlin in the 1970s. Two Polish women blocked the doorway of Polski Smak with their eastern Blok via western Hull earrings and confrontational, no fixed address perms. In the myriad of "antique" shops that line its eastern drag, a young white wanna be Eminemmer stoops to light a fag inside the shop, caring little for the vintage bedroom cabinets. In an alley close to Dee's house, we spot some grafitti proclaiming that "democracy is the illusion of government". Full marks for spelling awarded, we then spot rats in an abandoned children's playground, yards from Hull's sunset strip of bars and eateries.
On Sunday, and perhaps because of the aforementioned, we decamp to York, for walks around the walls, this lovely installation of candles in a decommissioned city centre church, and ice cream, laughing, in the rain.

Bat For Lashes - Whats a Girl To Do

Here's my favourite new discovery from Glastonbury (not counting CSS covering L7 like some bizarre mathematical conundrum). This is Bat For Lashes. It starts off like incidental music from Columbo, with some 60s atmospherics, and the video is all Wicker Man meets Girl On A Motorcycle. Lovely.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

From the rubble to the ritz

So Arctic Monkeys, eh? I can't help but feel a real sense of pride and "m'boys, m'boys" paternalism whenever I see them. Two years ago, me, Dave W and Mad Steve checked them out at Hull's Silhouette Club, an impossible bizarre cod-futurist venue which has since closed. Even then, they inspired dewey-eyed devotion and a crowd that had learnt lines off demos circulating throughout the land. In September 2005, we saw them at Blank Canvas in Leeds, underneath the Arches, where the band sat unfazed on a tatty sofa behind the stage, just a week before I Bet You Look On The Dancefloor stormed to number one. By February, they were at the Ice Arena, where they attracted a bit of a nasty "we are 'Ull" crowd but still shone. And now, Glastobury. Headliners. Friday night. With added muscle, a bass player who looks like he doesn't know where he is rather than just not wanting to be there (Andy Nicholson) and a lovely crowd manner "thankyou, ladies and gentel-munn" says Alex, repeatedly. I just feel my chest swelling for them. Unlike Kasabian. They can handle themselves, what with all that mariarchi weirdness and Midlands devotional nonsense.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Bernard Manning Sings The Smiths


Being hardened veterans of camping while 4,000 metres up a mountain, and in tribute to Bernard Manning, we are watching this year's festivities from the comfort of my Chesterfield. The Glasters vibe looks present and correct, lots of menacing clouds circling the Tor, paving the way for some teepee and beautiful sunset action. Ooh, I can almost smell the patchouli and grab the lentils. Funniest moment so far has been seeing a clearly loaded Gruff Rhys being interviewed and breaking into his own internal monologue on several occasions. But the Furries were ace, and Bunf may have cultivated his beard for a while, but I've never seen it looking so elegant. Not too impressed with The Fratellis, they sounded quite weedy to these ears. And what's with the check, Jack Penate?

Reason for writing about Glasters: There's just not much happening with me at the moment. We're skint, and moving house, and I'm looking for a job, and I've got a few magaziney and musicey things developing, and, well, everything's kind of just ticking over in a post engagement kind of ambience.

Other stuff: The beggars at top of street have got things sorted. One on each side of the road and one weaving in and out of traffic.

Reading: The Last Raj - William Dalrymple

Aghast at: Dalziel and Pascoe - like, when's Pascoe gonna be found out?

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

A Manning to all men?

As predicted, the loss of Bernard Manning has not gone unnoticed in this little media corner (actually more of an edge than a corner) of Lincolnshire. Roy Chubby Brown lives in Louth, just round the corner from Robert Wyatt and Barbara Dickson - its all so W5. Our token long-in-the-tooth sub has mourned his passing, and admired his 50 years in the biz, although we are yet to see Royston V with his hat at half mast mourning through the streets of Louth . Me, I just enjoyed hearing old relics like Frank Carson and Stan Boardman being hauled out to mourn "the hardest working man in showbusiness" (erm, surely that's Prince?). You could hear Kirsty audibly squirm on Radio 4 as old "it's a cracker" retold Manning's material while I tried to avoid putting the car into a ditch between Great Limber and Barnetby Top. But I was struck by a thought - surely Bernard's appearance in his boxers in India looking like Kashmir in underpants was the forerunner for Jade Goody's own forays into the sub(in)continent.

Watching: The Last King Of Scotland; Hot Fuzz; Bobby
Listening: Vetiver; Charlotte Hatherley - The Deep Blue; John Shuttleworth - I Can't Go Back To Savoury Now

Friday, 15 June 2007


Hard to believe that two weeks ago we were in the Andes climbing through cloud forests and that now I'm driving through torrential rain in the deepest darkest wolds of Lincolnshire. My journey to work today was like the Wicksteed Park splashboat on a continuous loop. Crazy shenanigans. Times like these are ideal for the shuffle facility on the IPod - nothing like randomness to battle the elements. Today I negotiated a burst canal near Caistor to Galveston by Glen Campbell, then avoided a jettisoned lorry to the stylophone and saccharine of Morning Girl by the Neon Philharmonic. Total warped juxtaposition, but kinda cool.

Monday, 11 June 2007

That beard

Anyways. So I grew a beard at Machu Pich. There has been speculation since that said beard would look a bit Badly Drawn La or like "the gypsy in Snatch". Here's the published proof that I looked kinda cool with a nine-day growth. This pic was taken just hours after me and Dee had got engaged and we'd avoided the American tourists by making a heady retreat for the hot springs of Aguas Calientes.

Now we're back. Spent Sunday driving up the east coast looking for adventure and finding only smugglers cottages in beautiful Flamborough, home to a lighthouse and Cliff End's Cliff Top cafe. On the journey there we noticed many people setting up picnics in lay-bys (fold-up chairs, chequered cloths, scotch eggs, the works.) Others were just stood at the roadside watching the cars. Great entertainment in Skirlaugh and Rise, it seems.

Oh, and we had an offer accepted on a house. In an email to a mate, I said that Barton was the former home of Robert Elmer Kleeson, the original Texas Chainsaw dude. Apparently he travelled over here to marry his prison penfriend. I'd like to reiterate that we are not buying the house he lived in.

Watching: Gavin and Stacey (although not for wedding ideas)

Listening: Os Mutantes - Ave Genghis Khan

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Back to reality

And so all that remains of our south America odyssey is a slightly dicky tummy and a slew of fab polaroids. Did I say it was brilliant? Of course I did. Luckily, me being treated like a hero in Lima by a gaggle of Peruvian refugees and doing the conga with a bunch of over 75s has not gone to my head, cos by Monday I was back in the dark place. Even Wyatt's jazz beard can't lift my post-holiday spirits. On Friday - feted. By Monday - writing a headline for a school fete outside Sleaford. Them's the breaks.

On a plus note, my sea shanty inspired creative writing project got a first at Hull University (the only one in the class). It seems penning shanties is my natural writing style. Pity there's no money in it - avast!!

Listening: The Cribs - Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever

Photo explanation: a llama at MP and some of our spectacular peaks

Saturday, 2 June 2007

What the deuce?

So I go away for nine days to Peru and when I return, I've dropped to the bottom of the Hull Bloggers League?? Even Chris Ramsey's gone ahead of me. Shocking, quite frankly, and proof that no matter how worthy pitting our wits in the treacherous Andes for Help The Aged was, Hull Bloggers vote with their virtual feet. So in an attempt to reel you all back in, here are some handy pointers to our trip to Peru.
1. The week before I went to South America, my boss said I had an attitude problem. Within three days of getting to Cusco, 3,000ft above sea level, I had an altitude problem. Three flights, two trains, several buses, many countries, an ocean and a backpack, all for the sake of one letter.
2. Me and Dee got engaged at Machu Picchu, looked on by an alpaca. A handy hint - making a wedding proposal at 4,000 feet may be many things, but candlelit it ain't - we both smelt and hadn't washed in days.
3. Don't order the guinea pig. The Peruvian national dish makes them very proud. They don't need an excuse to eat it. So proud, in fact, that they don't need to go through the inconvenience of preparing it for westerners. The Guinea Pig Dee ordered arrived looking like it had been koshed, then dipped in batter, grilled and served with a bit of lettuce. It even had teeth and was so like my pet guinea pig we named it Snuggles. Asking for it to be prepared, rather than looking taxidermed, the waiter merely cut it up into five pieces with a cleaver.
4. The work HTA does in Peru is totally vital. We raised an astonishing £35k between us, and visited a project in the slums of Lima which humbled us all. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to our fundraising total.
5. Going to Peru and the Andes was a dream come true, and memorable for all sorts of reasons. Magic.