Friday, 26 June 2009

Are you going to Glastonbury Fayre? No, me neither

What do you think of Glastonbury then? I must say that this year I have no interest whatsoever. I've spent too many hours fast-forwarding through recordings of it in the past and it's going to be a nice weekend, so my plan is not to watch any of it. To be honest, I think Status Quo have got it about right, they honest about only doing it for the money and it's true that up until about fifteen years ago the general consensus was that it was a hippy fest where Hawkwind would play long into the night and The Levellers would encourage all their crusty mates to climb over the fence.
The problem is that it's taken on this air of - ever since it was first televised in 1994 - 'if you're not here then you don't matter.' Personally I can think of a lot more places I'd rather be, like down in a sewer or even on the end of a skewer. I've been to rock festivals and large open air gigs in the past and they're not very satisfying, even for just one day. Factor into that the fact that you have to camp, can't get a shower, go for no.2s in rancid toilets, there's little shade and get wet all makes it for not a very pleasant experience. The last open air gig I went to was Ozzfest in 2001, and that was really only to see the reformed Black Sabbath. I doubt I'll go to an open air gig again. It's a captive audience, at Milton Keynes bowl you're not even allowed to take your own drinks in, so on the two occasions I've been there, people have been tipping away gallon after gallon of perfectly serviceable drink at the gate on hot days just so they can get in.

Getting back to Glastonbury, I'm not even all that keen on who's on, apart form Madness:

  • Bruce Springsteen - Can't stand his songs about unwanted pregnancy, getting laid off and ridiculous gas-guzzling cars. Songs in a live setting seem to go on for twenty minutes each.

  • Neil Young - Wrinkled old git in a plaid shirt playing interminable fuzzboxed guitar solos. Only like on of his songs, that one that goes "Keep on rockin' in the free world!", it goes "Keep on rockin' in the free world!". I think it's called Rockin' in the Free World.

  • Blur - Best of a bad bunch of headliners. Just bet they don't play Country House.

  • The Specials - Do me a favour, Thatcher's gone.

  • Kasabian - A band I couldn't more give a toss about you couldn't find. Nothing particularly wrong with them, just never been moved to buy any of their records.

  • Spinal Tap - Just leave it at the film, eh lads?

  • Tom Jones and Tony Christie - You know my views on those two already.

  • Crosby, Stills and Nash - What's this, granddad's day out, or what?

So, as Mary Ann Hobbs wouldn't say, you won't "see me down the front", you'll see me in the beer garden with my Magner's pear cider. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Get it right or I kick your head in

Well, here we are again. What have I been up to? like you're interested. For starters I've booked two holidays. One of them is a get-away-from-it-all affair to the north of Scotland in a small place overlooking the Moray Firth. Apparently you can watch dolphins from the garden. I hope they don't get too close, there's a word in The Meaning of Liff for the point when animals stop being picturesque. I don't get on very well with animals and have never seen the fascination of wanting to swim with dolphins. Mind you, I don't see the fascination of wanting to swim. As Billy Connolly says "Man spent thousands of years evolving to get out of the water, and the first thing he wants to do is run back in". We don't belong in there, there are things in there that want to hurt you.

Anyway, I'm going up there to just switch my phone off and chill out, away from solicitors, bank managers, pension companies, fawning funeral directors, the DWP etc etc. Having said that though, I get on quite well with our solicitor, she's a laugh. I knew I'd gone a bit far the other day though when I launched into an anecdote about The Great Soprendo before realising she didn't have a clue who I was on about. The penny dropped when I was reduced to saying "You know, The Great Soprendo off of Crackajack...piff paff puff......he was married to Victoria Wood...used to do Dictionary Corner on Countdown...Geoffrey" Obviously she'd spent her formative years poring over legal texts while I watched telly. Never mind, it's her loss.

I've also been thinking about buying a new car, thanks to Lord Mandy of Mandelson's scrappage scheme. I hate buying cars though and I'm desperately trying to put it off. It's the salesmen, I went with an ex-girlfriend to look for one for her once and the salesman kept addressing me. I had to tell him it wasn't me buying the car. He also kept saying 'superb' at the end of every sentence, like a complete wanker. The last one I bought the salesman said "I can see, sir, you look like the kind of man who loves his gadgets." How could he tell that? And he was wrong anyway. I'm still putting it off though, and knowing my luck, when I do brave the showroom it'll be the day after all the scrappage money's run out. Bah!

I've been reading The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher. It's a sprawling book that spans two decades in the lives of two middle-class Sheffield families. I love that kind of thing. (See my love for Stan Barstow's Vic Brown trilogy, Jonathan Coe's Rotters' books and Our Friends in the North for more details) It's a 700+ page monster but it's one of those books I don't want to end. He takes ages getting the detail right, which some would probably find infuriating, but it's the detail I love. Also not much happens, but it's very involving. So involving, in fact, that I had a day off work yesterday and took it to the pub yesterday afternoon. I never take books to pubs, and never go to pubs on my own, but I did yesterday. I read about eighty pages while getting slowly half-cut on pear cider and sitting at an outside table which I think was meant for smokers, but fuck 'em. Have you tried pear cider? It's a great summer drink, very sweet, but it slips down as easily as pop.

I went to see Telstar - The Joe Meek Story at the cinema last week. What a disappointment that was. It didn't know whether it wanted to be a knockabout comedy or a serious drama about mental health issues. I have a passing knowledge, and general interest in Meek, but the film told me very little I didn't know already, apart form the fact that his session guitarist of choice was Ritchie Blackmore. It also concentrated too much on his relationship with a complete turd of a man called Heinz, who Meek fell in love with and spent loads on trying to get a string of hits out of him. It all went pear-shaped, as you'd probably guessed. I was frustrated that it didn't tell you how a tone deaf man who couldn't play an instrument became a producer of such note. I reckon they made it with the interest of the average cinema punter in mind and didn't want to get bogged down in all that detail. It would have made a better TV drama, like those BBC4 films about real people. Especially as I was at a weekend showing with only six other people. That was after I'd picked myself up off the floor at how much the cinema wanted to charge for a) premium seats (Which turned out to be Mastermind chairs at the back with a small table, worth £14 of anyone's money. Not. I'd want a mid-film blowjob by a Polynesian handmaiden thrown in for £14) and b)the price of popcorn, surely the world's most inexpensive food product somehow made on par with caviar.

I'll leave you with this. How hateful is that? It's like those annoying tear-off calendars at work which each have a bit of cod philosophy at the bottom of each page. The filmed report on that page is worth watching just for the sound of the train driver's monotone voice spraffing off a a bit of Immanuel Kant, and saying "The passengers love it." Really? Oh, and it's also worth watching because I've taken a fancy to the woman at 50 seconds.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Ta-ra for a bit

I won't be posting here for a while as my mother died on May 30th. I don't feel as I have anything of worth to blog about, neither do I have the motivation or 'feel the need.'
I won't go into any ins and outs of her life or death as I feel it's a personal matter, and much as I love you all I like to keep something back.
Apart form this: we all moan about our parents and family members from time to time, but take it from someone whose lost both, you fucking miss them when they're gone, so make the most of them while they're here. I've never felt so alone.