Thursday, 18 December 2008

2008 and all that

That's 2008 then. The Bright Ambassador highlights:

        • Guitar Hero 3 - how to kill weekend afternoons during a crap summer

        • Dexter

        • Nottingham Forest's promotion

        • Mad Men

        • Metallica back on form

        • Charlie Brooker's print and TV tribute to Oliver Postgate

        • Fleet Foxes

        • The sitcom Pulling - deliciously filthy

        • Word magazine's Prog edition

        • Danny Baker back on 606

        • Rebecca Romero

        • Son of Rambow

        • The rise of Christine Bleakley

        • Dead Set

        • Jez using a £20 note as a masturbatory visual aid on Peep Show

        • The Ting Tings

        • Seeing Peep Show's Isy Suttie in the flesh (pictured)

        • Elbow finally getting the recognition they deserve

        • Kristen Schaal in The Flight of the Conchords

        • Armstrong and Miller's Timeghost podcast

        • Terry Wogan leaving Eurovision - how about him leaving Radio 2?

        • Watson and Oliver at Edinburgh

        What didn't float my boat:

        • Sam Allardyce not coming to Nottingham Forest

        • Graham Norton joining Eurovision

        • The way newspapers, especially The Sun and Daily Mail, use the slightest thing as a stick with which to beat the BBC. I'm surprised I haven't seen a headline along the lines of 'Man's disgust at getting papercut from the 1985 edition of Radio 1's Which Way Now? pack. Fat cat Beeb bosses laugh themselves unconscious at the news during the Christmas party WE paid for'.

        • The film PS I Love You

        • The Ting Tings

        • Nottingham Forest playing like a steaming pile of poo from August onwards

        • Ashes to Ashes (the telly show, not the Bowie song)

        • Dirty Sexy Money - the biggest waste of talent since ELP

        • The upward curve of Frankie Boyle's career

        • Hole in the Wall

        What to look forward to in 2009:

        • Guitar Hero: Metallica Edition

        • Seeing Metallica in February for the first time in sixteen years

        • Anything else Metallica-related

        That's me done for this year. Happy Christmas - whether you like it or not. As Geddy Lee says, with alarming regularity immediately pre-interval, I'm 'going to take a break for some brain surgery.' Things are out of my control a little work-wise in the new year, so whether I'll be back sooner rather than later is yet to be seen.

        To quote Derek Batey, be good to each other. Ta-ra.

        Tuesday, 16 December 2008

        Fallen Madonna with the big bank account

        There was a thing on the radio today about the Madonna and Guy Ritchie divorce settlement. Ritchie is reportedly getting £50m for his trouble.Which set me to thinking that that's not a bad return for eight years of marriage. I'm such a shallow turd that I think I could put up with a monumental pain in the arse like Madonna for eight years if I knew I was going to come out of it with £50m in the bank. Yeah, I know it's a kind of prostitution, but £50m's £50m after all. You'd be the most expensive prostitute in history - you could even get Norris McWhirter and Roy Castle involved (Yeah, I know they're dead, but can you imagine? "He's a spunk-donating celebrity-shagging bank-account-emptying record breaker!").
        You'd have to get used to her of course. I mean all that Kabbalah; being friends with Sting and his missus; adopting children; impregnating her; having to leave the pub because she's bored; having to see her naked (though this leaves very little to the imagination); being enthusiastic about her latest album/tour/film/kiddies' book must get wearing after a time. I could enthuse for England if I knew that there was a cheque for £50m at the end of it. Just think what you could buy: a whole Aston Martin, a season ticket for Forest (Hung Up is used as part of Forest's pre-match build-up music, they'd have to change that), a riverside apartment in Newark, the Genesis 1970-1975 box set, a ticket to see Madonna in concert - oh, hang on...
        And with £50m, that's right £50m, in the bank coupled with my sparkling personality, I'd be beating off the tastier chicks with a shitty stick.

        So, Madonna, if you're reading this and you find that you're looking for another fair-haired English chap with no discernible talent to speak of to add to your ex-husband collection, drop us a line.

        Monday, 15 December 2008

        Beyond wizard's sleeve

        I went out on the works do mentioned here on Saturday night. What a wash out, only four of us turned up, and one of those wasn't drinking. I've never been so depressed in all my life, well, not since Score with Ray Stubbs earlier in the evening.

        I don't know whether I'm out of practise or what, but I can't seem to drink with the same amount of gusto which I once did. Must be my age I suppose, coupled with the fact that if I go out these days it tends to be to a restaurant, cinema or to see a band. Drinking pints of lager doesn't appeal to me in the same way it once did. Besides, drinking lots of beer these days tends to give me a wicked hangover; which is why I never moved off the settee until midday yesterday. I woke up with what Billy Connolly describes as 'feeling like you're wearing an internal balaclava'. I think I saw the whole of Something For the Weekend with that cock Tim Lovejoy.

        The reason for the various no-shows were that a few of them thought the X Factor final was more inviting than coming out with me on a wet Saturday night. What's wrong with these people? I'd rather have a lobotomy than watch the X Factor, and I'm great company in da pub. I hate that show and I hate Simon Cowell - it's not about music it's about filling Cowell's bank account. I know I shouldn't be bothered about the Christmas no.1 but I am, and I'm getting sick of his merry band of mediocre knobsacks laying siege to the charts every Christmas. It almost makes me want Terry Wogan or Peter Kay to beat that song to no.1.

        And have you heard Hallelujah? It's rotten, of course. There's a line near the start 'You don't care for music, do yer?' No, Simon Cowell doesn't, does he? They've put fucking drums and a bastard gospel choir on it. And why do people think that all those vocal histrionics add something to the song? It's all technique and no soul (A bit like a pathetic prog metal band I know called Dream Theater. "Whoah, dude, look how fast I can shred my axe!"). Did I mention that I hate Simon Cowell? I'm not a violent man, but I'd love to punch him in his Botoxed, smirking face. Repeatedly.

        I. Hate. Simon. Cowell.

        By the way, glad to see someone agrees with me about Deacon Blue, even if he is pleading for comments.

        Saturday, 13 December 2008

        Friday, 12 December 2008

        Don't Cry For Me: One Boy's Dream of Not Getting a Daily Thrashing

        I'm looking for something new to read. If I don't finish Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain by Christmas then I'm going to shoot myself. While perusing Amazon, I came across the list for the best-selling 'tragic true life stories'. I know I'm not the first person to comment on this, but who buys these things in such huge numbers? And look at the titles - some probably have more words than the actual book itself contains. Here's my favourite: Cry Silent Tears: The Heartbreaking Survival Story of a Small Mute Boy Who Overcame Unbearable Suffering and Found His Voice Again. Jesus, you'd need to take a deep breath when ordering that at WH Smith. And I just bet someone has that on their Christmas list.

        So I've come up with a title for my own, entirely fictional, tragic childhood story: Little Dickie: The Boy Who Was Locked in a Wardrobe For the First Ten Years of His Life Before Being Encouraged to Run Along the Central Reservation of the A1(M) With Scissors In Just His Nylon Y-Fronts.
        Anyway, I've been thinking of getting this, but apparently it's very thick and I'll get arm ache reading such a big book in bed.
        I know I'm a bit late here, but the fellow who made this contributed to my relatively happy childhood, unlike the mute boy who found his voice. A great storyteller, and who doesn't love a great storyteller?

        White winter hymnal

        I've just been to a funeral. Don't worry, it was no one close, it was a neighbour. Of course when it isn't somebody you knew really well you can enjoy the proceedings a little more. Myself and another neighbour were about the youngest there after grandchildren. I suspect a lot of those who knew the deceased wondered who those two stylish blokes were. There was an order of service which informed us that there were to be two Beatles' numbers played during the arrival and departure of the coffin. I could hear a woman behind say "Well she never told me she liked The Beatles, and I've known her for eighteen years". Who doesn't like The Beatles? And it's true folks, people of the Beatles' generation are now croaking. How old does that make you feel? I imagine at my funeral people will say, as One Step Beyond blares out "I didn't know he liked this".
        There was an address by a bloke who looked like the Willo the Wisp version of Kenneth Williams. The whole thing could have been written by Alan Bennett; he kept banging on about pragmatism, I've had to come home and look pragmatism up in the dictionary. I can now reveal, exclusively, that I'm a pragmatist.
        And the congregation were very lacklustre in the hymn-singing. I'm most definitely not a religious man, but I was the only person putting any kind of heat under it, singing-wise. Besides, there's a line in All Things Bright and Beautiful about 'purple heads', and that always makes me stifle a laugh.

        I guess funerals are pretty good at focusing the mind. I'm forty in just over two years and I've yet to see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. The funeral and a motivational 'seize the day' talk this week by a lady colleague I never knew cared has given me fresh impetus for 2009.

        This song's been played relentlessly on my iPod this week. Radcliffe and Maconie started playing it in the summer, but it left me cold. Now we've arrived in December with its short days, sun low in the sky, frozen puddles and a general crispness in the air it all makes sense. It's definitely a winter song - creepy video too.

        Thursday, 11 December 2008

        A finger of whiskey

        Is it just the way my feeble mind works, or does the smug-looking bloke in this hateful ad look like he's sniffing his finger after sticking it somewhere he shouldn't?
        By the way, I hate that tagline 'seriously playful'. Ugh. It's like when people put the word serious in front of 'fun'. And why is he 'seriously playful'? Is it because he's drawn a comedy moustache on his finger. I bet he's a fucking scream, especially after a bottle of Irish whiskey.
        I also hate any comedy club that advertises itself as 'serious about comedy'; in Edinburgh in August you see that everywhere. Oh, and food wholesalers, using the tagline 'catering for the caterer' is the most unoriginal line ever.

        Vorderman fans, here's a blog that's right up your boulevard. Those of a nervous disposition may want to steer clear of the comments. Jesus........

        Tuesday, 9 December 2008


        I don't like repeating myself, but last night I remembered a few more things that get on my wick. Sorry. I promise I will blog about something I like, or at least stop moaning, eventually. And what a surprising amount of love for The Vorderman. Ah well, here goes:

        • Press *red* - You've seen it, it appears at the top right of a TV screen while you're watching something else. It tells you to press red to see a load of stuff other than the thing you were watching in the first place. Example: I was watching Have I Got News For You last night, and it popped up about five minutes from the end. What did it say? "Press *red* for Paul Weller and Adele". No thanks. It also tells you to press it during the news, which then takes you into a complicated news menu. Now, when somebody's been awfully kind enough to read the news out to me along with filmed and live reports, why would I want to read it on a text version as well? It's not been thought out properly either, as it often obscures captions that say "Library Pictures" or "October 2005". What they should do is give us something worth watching via the red button. Like, say, a Red Arrows display, a kitten playing with a ball of wool or a looped video of Vernon Kay being punched repeatedly in the face while being made to say 'sorry'.

        • High-fiving - Since when did giving a high five become an acceptable way for British people to congratulate each other? I've never high-fived anyone in my life, I'm proud to say. It's completely un-British I tell you. If, like me, you played as first reserve in your dad's skittles team in your callow youth, when you played a good shot people would nod and say 'shot', 'played' or, at it's most extreme, shake your hand. These days the bastards would be high-fiving all over the shop.

        • Thieving bastards - I work alone, in a large warehouse. As I work alone I can choose what music I listen to, either radio or CD. I don't normally take original CDs in but ones copied on my home PC (which is perfectly legal if you own an original copy). I do have a couple of original CDs at work - both compilations - and some bastard's nicked one. I've got a pretty good idea who it is too; the other night, after I left, some agency staff came over to do some work. They've taken something called Dark Side of the 80s. Now I can only imagine that their pea-sized brains just saw the word '80s' and they thought it was some sort of awful thing containing Spandau Ballet and Culture Club. Well, I hope they felt foolish when they got home and started listening to a load of tracks by artists such as The Fields of the Nephilim, The Mission, The Sister of Mercy, New Model Army, Bauhaus and, er, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. I notice that they left The Best Prog Rock Album in the World...Ever! Tasteless bastards...

        • This song - It's like Pinky and Perky singing Mambo No.5

        Monday, 8 December 2008


        ... that you say, 'what's getting on my wick at the minute'? Well, I'll tell you:

        • Terry Wogan and Aled Jones's Christmas single - Two of my least favourite people singing one of my least favourite songs. Is it the law that all charity singles have to be shite? Can't somebody make a decent one? Apart from Mark Radcliffe's take on Right Said Fred and Alex Lester's My Brother, of course.

        • Iceland adverts - I know this is like shooting fish in a barrel as they feature Katona (a woman who quite clearly needs some professional help) and Nolan, but why does their food always look so deeply unappetising? Prawn Spoons anyone? Thought not. They're seemingly obsessed with prawns.

        • 'Quirky' indie rock bands - Step forward The Wombats, Scouting for Girls, The Hoosiers etc. They're like A Tribe of Toffs for the early twenty first century. The sort of people who say 'Ooh, I'm a bit mad, me'. Go away.

        • Steve Wright's Old Woman - There's so much wrong with the Steve Wright show that I won't go into all of it, but I'll start at Old Woman. Old Woman is one of his ker-azy afternoon posse, a woman who is made to read things out even though she quite clearly has trouble forming her own sentences, let alone reading. Is also paid to laugh like a drain at anything 'Wrighty' says. I once heard that it is actually Wright's mother.

        • Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues - Regular readers will know that both the acts share a place in my heart, but Fairytale of New York gets on my pip. It's the only Christmas song that people who like to think they're still vaguely 'with it' own up to liking. The sort of people who rush out and buy Coldplay albums. From Waitrose. It's okay to like Christmas songs like Greg Lake, Mike Oldfield, Gary Glitter etc.

        • Carol Vorderman - Sick of hearing her drone on about being dropped from Countdown. It must've been terrible for her to hear the news that her pay was being cut to a mere £100,000 pa just for picking a few letters out of a box and doing a quick bit of mental arithmetic. Never mind, she could always get herself one of those debtbuster loans she's been hawking on telly to life's less fortunates. Probably not as nice as she makes out she is.

        • People who say 'a few quick hellos' on the radio - I like listening to Ken Bruce's Popmaster, but everyday you get at least one contestant who likes to say 'a few quick hellos' to 'my lovely wife Joannne - she won't be listening 'cos she's at work but hello anyway - my kids Jordan and Gemma, Dave and all the lads at work - Oi oi! - Mum, Dad, Joanne's mum and dad, everyone at The Cock Inn, the lads on the football team and anyone else who knows me'. I know a lot of people, and I'll tell you this, there's some of them I don't like, so why would I want to say 'hello' to them via the radio? And why do these people think that millions of people up and down the country are interested in hearing a load of random names read out? If they wanted to hear their name on the radio they should have entered Popmaster themselves. In fact, you can almost hear the relief in Ken's voice when a contestant just signs off with a 'goodbye' without 'a few quick hellos'. DJs, please stop people saying 'a few quick hellos'.

        • Graham Norton doing Eurovision - 'Nuff said.

        Friday, 5 December 2008

        'Tis the season for fat bastards, tra-la-la-la la-la la la

        Can you guess what that is in the picture? That's right, it's a box of fast food-shaped Christmas tree ornaments. Do you know any morbidly obese people who would like those on their tree? If so, pop along to your local Homebase store. Hurry, only while stocks last.
        Sorry I haven't posted much this week, but I've been knackered and not very well; I'm getting too old for all this burning the candle at both ends mallarkey. No, on second thoughts, I'm not sorry, it's my blog and I'll post when I want to. Although I doubt anyone comes here with baited breath to read my latest pronouncements.
        Anyway, here's your Friday Lazy You Tube embed. I've been trying to work out for the last 26 years whether this song is a work of genius or a load of old bollocks. See what you think.

        Tuesday, 2 December 2008

        Deacon Blue? Deacon Bollocks more like

        Those who have stuck with me over my numerous blogs may remember that about six months ago I wrote about how I'd bought some Simple Minds anniversary tour tickets, and my complete and utter contempt for the support act, Deacon Blue.
        Well, they (Deacon Blue) didn't disappoint. What a screaming pile of shit that band always were and still are. Somebody ought to tell the singer that telling a long-winded and completely unfunny joke about Alex Salmond, Scottish Arts Council grants and translating songs into Gaelic won't particularly play well to a partisan SM crowd in South Yorkshire. I'm surprised he didn't tap the microphone at the sound of no people laughing and ask 'Is this thing on?' Just to reiterate, I hate Deacon Blue. But what I hate even more is that with the opening bar of Wages fucking Day, the whole crowd (bar me) were on their feet clapping along. I stayed seated and deleted a load of text messages off my mobile phone, moving onto playing the phone's golf game in time for bastard Dignity.
        Anyway, Simple Minds were excellent. I know they're the sort of band you either love or hate, and Jim Kerr can be a little bit of a self-important cock at times, but they're a bloody good live band. After thirty years Kerr knows how to work a crowd and you get the sense he genuinely feeds off it.

        One person who doesn't know how to work a crowd is that lass with the saxophone off of The Zutons. I don't know whether she was badly, got the decorator's in, had a row with her drummer boyfriend or snorted something that was 95% talcum powder or what, but she had a face like a slapped arse all night. I've never seen anyone on any stage anywhere look as disinterested as her. The only time she acknowledged the crowd all night was at the end when she said (insert thick, high-pitched Liverpool accent here) 'Cheers, you've been a boss crowd'. How did she know? She'd been looking at the floor all night. Other than that, they're not a bad live band. I wouldn't go and snap up their albums but they put on a good show, apart from old mardy arse.
        Oh, and I've moaned on here in the past about mobile phones and talking at gigs, can we also stop lager-throwing? I got covered in lager about three times on Friday night. And the bloke in front of me decided to do it as well. He thought he was fucking hilarious. Him and his mates were discussing earlier about how best to tackle a group of four achingly beautiful young women in front of them (yes, lads, ladies breasts do bounce up and down when they dance, don't they? Have you only just noticed, you childish twats?). In my experience with women, spilling drinks over them - intentionally or otherwise - doesn't do much to ingratiate yourself with them.

        Staying on a kind of Eighties theme, I notice that Ultravox have reformed. Why? Don't do it, Midge. You can be crap on your own without the other three.
        One of my fondest memories is laughing in my sister's face as she wept when Joe Dolce kept Vienna off the no.1 spot (what a sweet child I was). If Spandau Ballet's True is the worst no.1 of all time, then Vienna is the worst no.2.

        After singing heartily last night, and as a result of me being a 'bit chesty' in the first place, my voice is fucked. I currently sound like Lemmy and Su Pollard's love child. It's like my voice breaking all over again, and I hate losing the ability to shout. I shout a lot at work. Bah!

        Back to Ver Simps, they played an 'interesting' version of this early classic last night, with drummer Mel Gaynor handling lead vocal duties.

        Monday, 1 December 2008

        Songs that should NEVER be covered No.2

        This is just plain wrong on so many levels that I don't know where to begin.