Tim Bleake

Hello. Yay, I’m back! – Sorry if you’re one of the seven people who’ve complained that I haven’t written any blogs lately, disregard all of the above if you’re not (and probably all of the below too).
Anyway, It’s all just been too bleak. Nobody wants bleak blogs so I didn’t bother.
My last post was in November when there were poppies and fireworks and such unseasonably mild weather that people were taking hot water bottles filled with ice cubes to bed with them just to feel appropriately seasonally acclimatised. What a time that was, the sun shined and anything seemed possible. My blog about all of that can be found somewhere, you find it, there’s probably a link on an Internet.

But then December happened, and that thing in Paris happened with all those arseholes with guns so that pretty much sucked all the joy out of life but hey, at least Christmas was just around the corner.
So then Christmas happened, and in time honoured fashion, the exhausting four month soundcheck proved to be a mere prelude to some fat guy falling on stage, farting in to the microphone and crawling off again. I was gonna do a blog about that but everybody else already had. Same time next year then.

So then New Year happened and people from British places were flooded out of their picturesque cottages in bizarre towns called things like ‘Bristall’ and ‘Edinbroog’. Kay Burley’s tears merely added to the apocalyptic deluge. God, it was all just so bleak.
Elsewhere in weather, a new initiative in storm awareness was unleashed upon us in which all the storms would suddenly now have names such as ‘Alfonso’ and ‘Beatrice’, so that when the roof gets ripped off your house and your children get sucked into a ravenous tornado, you can blame someone with a recognised Christian name as quickly as possible. “Damn you Claudia!”. There were lots of blogs about that. Bleak, bleak blogs.

So that was all pretty bleak but then everyone died. Earth from Earth, Wind & Palmer and the Emerson guy from Emerson, Lake & Fire, George Martin, Bowie, Rickman, Terry Wogan, The Eagles guy and Lemmy died and the whole thing started to stink of a missing verse from Billy Joel’s celebrated, up-tempo, arsonist themed / denial of any involvement in the crime, murder mystery song thing. I can never remember what it called. So anyway, then Lord Coe declared ‘competitive grieving’ an Olympic sport and I though Jesus, I can’t write a blog about this so I didn’t. On the upside though Billy Joel didn’t die, I wasn’t sure if that was ironic or un-ironic so I didn’t write a blog about that either.

So anyway, then February Happened and Denmark closed its borders to all immigrants, so that was fun, and then a lot of other hitherto tolerant nations did likewise and that was also fun, then shit loads of bombs killed some people and then some Russian fighter pilots started taking the same drugs their athletes take and accidentally flying into Turkish airspace so the Turks retaliated by calling all Russians “wankers”.
Was it Uptown Girl? … so anyway then Donald Trump and The Pope kicked off because The Pope said Trump shouldn’t be putting up walls to keep the Mexicans, Muslims and homos out, but then Trump pointed out that massive fucking wall around The Vatican clearly designed to keep all the paedos in. So then were millions of blogs basically saying that these two pricks deserve each other so what would be the point in me merely repeating that these two pricks deserve each other? These two pricks deserve each other.

Oh fucking hell, it’s all just been so unblogably bleak. I refuse to stir another man’s bleak porridge so how am I gonna wrap this shit up and leave you with a smile on your lips? – “Always try to make ’em laugh” my father and ex-funeral director often says.
So then to our only ray of light in an avalanche of misery and despair, turns out we have an actual British man from Britain out in space, literally floating in a tin can (no not him), I mean celebrity astronaut, a man with a novelty t-shirt for every occasion, a man who frankly spends more time on Twitter than I do, a man who’s already wasted about half a billion dollars on zero-gravity reenactments of Britney Spears videos, a man who was sorry he couldn’t be joining us at The Brits tonight, a man measuring six foot and three inches from Chichester in Sussex and who’s name sounds a bit like Twin Peaks, a man who needs no introduction at all. It wasn’t Uptown Girl. I think it was Tell Her About It.

I mean honestly, who would write a blog about all that bollocks?

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POPPYCOCK!

Now then, unless you’ve been living in a cave with dodgy wi-fi, you’ll no doubt be aware of the various poppy related scandals that have hit the headlines in recent weeks. Renowned ‘pig botherer’ David Cameron set the madness in motion by forgetting to put his poppy on when attending Parliament. Conservative Party HQ went in to a brief meltdown before ingeniously coming to his rescue by drawing one on him and releasing the image to the press. Fortunately for ‘ham lover’ Cameron, everyone is stupid these days so nobody noticed the crappy photoshopped poppy, meaning ‘bacon-jockey’ Cameron totally got off with his porky. Not ‘THAT’ porky. That’s a different porky he got off with.

Speaking of ham, next up was actress Sienna Miller who’s famous for being in films nobody can quite remember. Miller was appearing on some chat show or other, talking about herself or something or other to one of the Carr brothers or other, I think. That’s not important though, what is important is that Miller was quite flagrantly NOT wearing a poppy. When the country’s police forces had finally regained control of the streets following the violent mayhem that Miller’s unspeakable omission had sparked, she explained that she had simply removed the poppy because it was tearing her dress which was made of crape paper. Yes, crape paper. A likely story.

Moving on then to the West Bromwich Albion midfielder, James McClean. Health & Safety dictates that footballers aren’t permitted to wear real poppies, because the little pin might catch on their flesh and force them to plummet to the ground in the penalty area, so they have theirs drawn on with crayons by Jermain Defoe’s P.A. – McClean didn’t want one though because he grew up in Northern Ireland, a country with some historical beef with the British Army who liked Northern Ireland so much, they stayed there for 38 years.

Speaking of the utter bleakness of the outmoded, crippled and truly ugly face of Northern Ireland, Eamonn Holmes was the next to spark outrage. Not just outrage though, also widespread fury© and mass hysteia©. In shocking scenes captured live, the daytime TV lard enthusiast wore his poppy UPSIDE DOWN!

When appearing on television these days, it is common knowledge that the simple non-leafy poppy is no longer a sufficient enough public display of reverence, wear one of those on TV and you are basically scum. The larger leafy poppy is now the minimum requirement, and as I’m sure you know, the leaf MUST be positioned at eleven o’ clock, failure to adhere to this fundamental protocol is tantamount to wanking in to The Queen’s teapot. Holmes had his positioned at five o’ clock and in the inevitable mindless carnage that followed, his house was quite rightly burnt to the ground and someone dropped a hammer on Holmes – leading to the unforgettable Daily Mail headline: ‘HAMMER OVER THE HOLMES!’.

Anyway. One man who didn’t forget to wear his poppy was troublemaking pinko, Jeremy Corbyn. Unfortunately though, he’d expended so much mental energy on not forgetting to wear his poppy, that when attending the state memorial at the Cenotaph, he completely forgot to bow his head to the correct amount of degrees (which I need hardly tell you is 35 degrees). Sicko Corbyn could only muster 11 degrees. This is the same vile communist who refuses to sing the national anthem, lest we forget.

All I can add to this orgy of treason is thank god we won the war, eh? Thank god we stood firm behind our fascist ideology. How would this current ‘poppy fascism’ craze ever be able to thrive decades later were it not for the spilt blood of our brainwashed forefathers?. We fought for fascism then and we stand by it now. Thank god we can tell these people exactly what they should think, how they should behave and bring them into line.
Just imagine the Nazi’s had had their way, eh? … the Nazis with their ‘freedom’, just imagine that, all these celebrity show-offs being afforded a right to their opinions, being free to do and say whatever the fuck they like, freedom of speech, thought, expression, movement, EUGH!. Freedom to wear a poppy, freedom to not bother, freedom to sing or not sing, it’s disgustingly open ended and it just goes on and on and on. It even extends to Sienna Miller being allowed to wear a dress made of crape paper and wipe her arse on it if she so chooses. This is what our fallen heroes fought to protect us from.

I think.

In conclusion then, the poppy field is now a minefield, which is either very ironic or very apt, depending on how stupid you are. Heil Hitler! x

Hey. (or Pissing With A New Ronantic).

Hey. The following is a blog about inexplicable celebrity encounters, statistical likelihood and bookends. Yes, together at last, FINALY those three elements have fused. Think: The One Show, The Musical, On Ice!

I have bookends, if you want to be taken seriously in this game you need bookends so I’ve got bookends. Bookend #1 is a tiny TV studio in London’s Canary Wharf, the year is 1984, the occasion is the filming of some spurious, un-Google-able European TV show that will feature live performances from Simple Minds, Big Country, Spandau Ballet and Simply Red. I was at this exclusive event courtesy of my membership of the Big Country Fan Club©, and I’m still a member. No, you fuck off.
Anyways, the entire evening was in a whole new stratosphere of tedious. They had two songs each to play but it took over four hours. There were technical problems, wardrobe malfunctions, all sorts going on. Hucknall wasn’t happy with the monochrome manner in which the studio lights danced upon his hair, Kemp (G) wasn’t happy with the weft on the tartan carpet he’d fashioned into a poncho, yada yada yada, it was the 1980s, these were common problems.

Cut a long story short, I was 15 and had been drinking Woodpecker cider with various other of my brothers from the Big Country Fan Club© for about seven hours. So while Simply Red were ejaculating all over the history of all recorded music, l found myself (as would you if you had any sense) pinned to a public urinal, flanked to my left by none other than Spandau Ballet’s chief crooning ponce, Tony Hadley. He saw me looking at him and said “Hey?” … ‘Hey’ (but with a question mark) … so I said “hey” back, but with a full stop, my “hey” had an unintentional sense of finality, thus our conversation ended there.

Between that bookend and the next one I had various other unlikely celebrity encounters but none of them involve urine or Tony Hadley so I’ve edited them out. Think of them as books you don’t need to read, like Jeffrey Archer books.

Bookend #2: Fast forward three years to David Bowie’s hugely disappointing ‘Glass Spider’ Wembley Stadium concert. No fan club membership was required for Wembley Stadium in the late 1980s, If five hundred of you stormed the fence simultaneously, four hundred of you were in. We saw U2, Springsteen, Queen, Bowie, Wham, Kershaw (all the greats), and never paid a penny. The new Wembley Stadium is rubbish, you either need a ticket or you have to pay to get in, even if it’s Bowie in one of his ‘couldn’t give a shit’ periods, you’d still have to pay.

Anyways, cut a long story short, at some point in the evening I found myself in the public urinals, not in the spiritual sense, I mean I needed a piss, I was in the lavs just beneath the old Olympic gallery where all the corporates hung out, and who is pissing next to me?, only Tony pissing Hadley. Remembering our previous encounter I confidently offered a knowing “Hey?” … he looked at me like I was shit on his shoe, spat in the urinal and walked out. He didn’t even wash his hands, which was originally what this blog was going to be about but it’s gone in a different direction now. Never mind, I’ll do that one next time.

That’s right, I have pissed flanked by Tony Hadley. TWICE. What are the chances? Good question, and thanks to a good friend of mine at Matchodds.com I can tell you, once is about six million to one, twice he calculated at a staggering 40 million to one. He said if I’d slashed next to Slash (twice) those odds would double. He was also more impressed by someone he knew who drove a van, and had seen Van Morrisson in Morrissons three times, and they were all different branches. I know when I’m beat. Still, 40 million to one is pretty steep odds though, for context, your chances of winning the lottery are 14 million to one. Exactly, who’s the mug now? you may have inexplicably become a multi millionaire for a third time over but have you pissed next to Tony Hadley twice?
COMING UP NEXT TIME: New Romantics With Pissy Fingers.

A PARTY WITHOUT MUSIC.

 

In case you don’t know, Labour lost the election, or to give it its full title: ‘The Conservatives swept to power©’. That’s right, the Conservatives swept all before them when roughly one in four people voted for them, but hey, that’s democracy!. Cheers Greece, cheers for tragedies too, feel free to send us any more of your crap ideas, no wonder you’re going bust, trigonometry went out in the ’70s and John Travolta is a major arsehole. Apologies for the lazy stereotypes, we shouldn’t pick on the Greeks, they’ve got enough on their plates, if they’ve got any plates left!!!. Sorry, I’m done.

I digress. Anyway Labour lost the election, they lost it because they didn’t have a song. I don’t mean they didn’t have a chance of winning (although that’s a debatable point), I mean they didn’t have a signature anthem. Not since D:REAM songsmith Brian Cox took out an injunction forbidding the Labour Party from using his piece of shit song have the Labour Party ever laid claim to their own rousing theme tune.
N.B. Please do not confuse ’90s musical ponce Brian Cox with Professor Brian Cox, the star nut, or the actor Brian Cox, him who’s in all the films, or indeed Huddersfield Town’s 1920s midfield general, Brian Cox. They’re different people.

I digress. The Welsh mob had their own anthem, Catatonia’s ‘International Velvet’ featuring the line “everyday I wake up I thank the Lord that I’m Welsh”, yeah, that one. The SNP went similarly route one with The Proclaimers. The Greens (unofficially) had some dirge by The Levellers. I’m not making this up you know. Much as I’d like to be Richard Littlejohn I’m not, honestly I’m not. These are facts. The Greens wanted to use a song by Chumbawumba, I forget which one, where do you start?, but the Chumbs said “No”.

The Lib Dems apparently used ‘library music’, so at least they got one man back in to work, specifically that ponytailed guy who no doubt benefited from zero tuition fees and carved out a lucrative career knocking out wallpaper music for Ceefax back in the day. Did the Greeks invent irony too?
Moving on, almost best of all is UKIP. they had no music at all played on their battle bus or at any of their pre election conferences because, and you might want to sit down for this bit … because … according to their press office … “UKIP is a serious party, music is not important.”
Those two statements again just in case you didn’t fully digest them the first time: “UKIP is a serious party” and “music is not important”.

At least the Tories understand that you can’t have a party without music, so they pinned their blue rosettes to ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ by The Killers, mainly because David Cameron was told to say he likes that song, in much the same way that he was told to say that he likes Aston Villa, or whoever it is he supports, it’s so hard these days to differentiate between the team you’ve followed all your life and shed tears for and another team two hundred miles away who play in vaguely similar colours, don’t you find? especially in moments of stress. We’ve all been there.

Cameron also included that self same crap song in his now infamous ‘Desert Island Discs’ selection. Apparently he likes the lyrics. “I’ve got a mole but I’m not a molester” or something like that. He doesn’t of course, he’s been given a list of ‘edgy’ songs by some young Conservatives and been told to pretend he likes them. He’s also been told he likes Radiohead, early R.E.M. and The Smiths. Poor Jonny Marr was so distraught he nearly quit show business. Anyway, that’s your new prime minister, a man who will tell you exactly what he likes just as soon as it’s been workshopped by some teenagers and he’s been fully briefed. Good luck everyone.

Let’s celebrate by listening to David Cameron’s favourite song: http://youtu.be/jP52cgknJUU

SPOON FACE.

We don’t hear much from Uri Geller anymore. In fact we only hear from him when there’s a current news narrative to which he feels his ‘skills’ could positively affect the outcome. Happily this week was one such occasion as Uri popped up to offer his ‘services’ to his local football club Reading, who as huge underdogs were preparing to take on Arsenal in the FA Cup. He said this: “I want to invite the team to my home and show them that anything is possible, I will bend some spoons.”

Of course he will because that’s pretty much all he does. He’s the spoon bending guy, right? There is other stuff he pretends he can do but to you and me Geller is the slimy spoon bending merchant. He calls this unique ability ‘psychokinesis’, I call it ‘fucking pointless’. I can bend spoons too, I use my hands but the outcome is the same, fucked up spoons. While the greatest minds of our time are exploring bending things like time, Uri has spent fifty years bending cutlery.
Apparently he can’t actually bend the spoon back into shape afterwards either, that would actually be useful, if he could bend vast quantities of metal his skills could be invaluable in any number of industries, he could build ships, he could mine for oil but he can’t do that. Even if he could unbend things that could probably be useful too but he can’t do that either. No, his ability to bend (but not unbend) solid matter by harnessing the power of psychokinesis only works singularly and inexplicably on spoons. That’s why they call it ‘the unexplained’.

In 2007 Spoon Face bent some of his spoons before the disbelieving eyes of the United Kingdom’s Eurovision Song Contest hopefuls, Scooch. It almost worked too, but agonisingly they came in 22nd out of 24.
His Wikipedia page makes for an interesting read. It basically lists all his feats, hastily followed by all the explanations of how it all was bollocks. He could stop clocks and speed them up again, except he couldn’t without magnetic cuff links. He could tell a member of his live audience what the registration number of their car was, but only because his manager had been hanging out in the car park for two hours. Anyway I already know my car registration number. Another pointless skill that he hasn’t actually got in the fist place. What a dick, if you’re gonna pretend to be able to do something, why not make it something useful or at least interesting?. By the way I can impregnate any woman within a five mile radius by simply strumming a C sharp major on a Spanish guitar. Fact.

Returning to the the story, on hearing of Geller’s offer to the Reading football team, their manager Steve Clarke said this: “sounds like Uri’s after a bit of publicity, tell him no thanks”. Steve Clarke, a sensible man, a man who if he ever felt the need to ruin a perfectly good piece of cutlery, would do do so with his hands. Though to be fair to Spoon Features, he said he would be using his psychic abilities to guide Reading to the Cup Final anyway. You’ve guessed the rest. They lost. Who saw that coming?
Poor Reading, not only have they missed out on a cup final, they also missed out on a night out at Spoon Man’s notoriously tasteful Berkshire mansion. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for that one. “Hey guys, come on in and welcome to by beaudiful home. I’d love to offer you all a cup of tea but y’know … no spoons.”

Baby On Board?

Here’s a funny thing, the other day i was on a tube train just minding my own business like you do, checking out other peoples newspapers whilst internally judging them and generally minding my own business and I was thinking that people who don’t live in London (apparently there’s still a handful) don’t actually know what tubes trains is. Other people just call them trains. If you’re one of those other people, tubes are just like trains but they travel underground, it’s okay, they’re quite safe (bombs notwithstanding). On Virgin Trains free wi-fi will cost you £3.99 and then it doesn’t work, tubes have no wi-fi whatsoever either but it’s genuinely free. On the downside though a seat on the tube requires a massive deposit and is way beyond the means of most first time buyers. This is due to London’s population crisis, dubbed by the London media as: ‘The Population crisis of London.

The last time I got a seat on the tube was April the 17th 2008, I’ll never forget it because it was the day I last got a seat on on the tube. It was a gloriously sunny day and I’d camped out overnight outside Tufnell Park station. At 6:05am on the dot I was up as the doors of the station creaked open and I somehow fought my way through the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan to secure one entire seat all to myself. I still have the scrapbook to prove it.
That was until last Thursday when somehow I inexplicably got a seat. It was more luck than judgement to be honest. The tube had slammed its brakes on just outside Finsbury Park propelling an elderly lady from her seat and straight into a steel door, simultaneously I was thrown forward and landed on her very recently vacated seat. how’s your luck? What a time to be alive. I’d never been so happy.

Reader, my elation was short lived. For as I sat taking selfies to prove to people I’d secured my very own seat on a London tube train in 2015 I heard a gentle coughing sound just above me, I looked up to be greeted by the sight that all Londoners fear more than any other, a pale looking woman cupping her hands, coughing and hinting and pointing, her eyes all flickering and motioning towards her ‘Baby On Board’ badge. Oh for fucks sake I thought, what a kick in the balls. Imagine winning the Lottery and being diagnosed with terminal cancer two minutes later, it was that. “Would you like my seat?” I simpered through gritted teeth. She bloody took it too. From rags to riches to rags.

Look, I’m not saying anything here but she didn’t even look that pregnant. She was kinda plump all over, enjoys a cake or three plump, shall we say. Every time she looked up and caught my eye she offered a little grateful smile, I smiled back but tried hard to imbue my smile with a clear sense of deep suspicion, she didn’t care, she had a seat, why should she care?.
The other thing to point out is, and I’m not saying anything here, but there’s a lot of these badges on the underground these days, it’s almost as if, and I’m not saying anything here, but it’s almost as if London’s female population is feigning pregnancy just to secure a seat on public transport. Or worse, families are deliberately ‘trying for another child’ just so madam can get a bloody seat. No wonder there’s a population crisis.

Anyhoo, I promised myself that the next supposedly knocked-up hussy that demanded my seat would not get it before close cross examination and I didn’t have to wait long.
Two days later I was on the Piccadilly line when luckily an old man slumped to the floor suffering from heat exhaustion and I miraculously found myself in his seat. Two in a week. Unreal. Then three stops later it was like déjà vu all over again.

*cough, cough* “erm excuse me, I’m erm *motions at badge* … with child”.
– “really? That’s fantastic, when’s it due?”
“In June, why?”
– “Three months gone then, interesting”
“Can I just sit down please, I’m very tired”
– “Not so fast, lady, so you’ve already had two ultrasound scans then, correct?”
“What?”
– “You’ll have my seat when I’ve seen a date encrypted print of your most recent ultrasound scan.”
“But I don’t have one on me”
– “Then you madam are a liar, what kind of expecting mother does not carry with her a photograph from her latest ultrasound scan?”.

I’d nailed her. She turned and fought her way through the train, humiliated and defeated, and with that the other passengers cheered and whooped deliriously, then a gang of racist Chelsea fans picked me up and carried me above their heads in triumph but that was only so one of them could nick my bloody seat. True story.

Anyway I’m gonna make some badges of my own …

image

THE IDIOT STRIPE MURDER MYSTERY

It was late, the snow laid thick on the ground and a mist hung over the city like a blanket on a cage. A bewildered man trudged aimlessly through a dimly lit street bleeding heavily from one leg, he muttered and spat, he then stopped and appeared to issue instructions to an imaginary dog before sinking to his knees and in a final desperate act, he cried out, who knows what demons plagued him in that final moment before he slumped forward and yielded to the oncoming traffic, he never knew what hit him. (It was a bus).

Four hours earlier … * harp music* … 🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶 ….

Here’s a funny thing, the other day I was watching the Darts, y’know because it was Christmas, so I was having a little whiskey, y’know because it was the Grand Final, and the big drunk fella with the tattoos was playing the big drunk fella with the tattoos and the glasses and it was bloody gripping. They were both undeniably brilliant at Darts. @Jean_9 agreed with me, her message “#LoveTheDarts – Amazing darts tonight, best final ever!!!” gently scrolled across the bottom of the screen to confirm what I’d hitherto suspected. Then @FittyFee5 boasted about actually being at the Darts by adding “#LoveTheDarts – can u c me on the box? lol”, at least @GrahamD77 had some thoughts on the actual game: “#LoveTheDarts – If da big guy turns dis round, wud b the best arrows evs”.

Solid Darts banter gently floating harmlessly just below the actual Darts action. Great. But then this from @ScaryMary: “#LoveTheDarts … but luv u more Terry. Marry me! x”. I’ll be honest I’d kind of lost track of the game at this point, moments later @Trish_074 got involved: “#LoveTheDarts – come on terry, r u gonna marry her? lol”. Then a lot of stuff about Darts or something scrolled by but tellingly, nothing from Terry. “Come on Terry, there’s an incomplete subtext here mate, don’t leave us hanging” I tweeted in. It didn’t make the cut. Sad face.
Anyway, the messages continued to scroll as I continued to gawp, I think the game had finished some hours ago, apparently the big guy won. Who cares?. Still nothing from Terry and the messages were increasingly more about Darts so I got bored and turned over.

The News was on and it had been snowing, so the News guy was saying “hey, it’s snowing” and then the lady News guy was saying “that’s right, it’s snowing, send us your pictures of snow, so we can show pictures of snow, get in touch if you’ve ever seen snow”, and gently and harmlessly scrolling across bottom of the screen was information such as this from @Gen81: “#snow It’s SNOWING!!!” along with other contributions of a similar ilk and of course, pictures of snow. It was all strangely hypnotic, a bit too hypnotic in fact so I turned over.

Downton. Excellent I thought. I’m in safe hands here, I thought. TV like they used to make it, I thought. Not according to @KevD_159 though, who’s opinion was gently and harmlessly, if in this context perhaps slightly inappropriately scrolling across the bottom of the screen. “#TweetDownton – tryin 2 hard 2 make it all fukin modern”, @BigBaz6 added: “#TweetDownton – Lady Mary is my bae, but WTF she playin at?”. I wish I knew, I’d for some reason inexplicably lost the plot, both plots, Downton’s and mine. The whiskey was flowing nicely though so I turned over to Film 4 to catch Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, mercifully Film 4 don’t have an idiot stripe floating across the bottom of their screen, no, theirs is floating across the top of the screen, it’s much artier. Incidentally @Ginger_Jeff thought the movie was “existential bollox”. Amen to that.

That ancient Chinese proverb that dictates “opinions are like arseholes, everybody’s got one” neglects to add “and most of them are full of shit”, so I have. Had. Have. Whatever. I had / have consumed almost an entire bottle of whiskey by that / this point and people’s bloody opinions had completely ruined my cracking night of Christmas telly, I’m ashamed to say that such was my frustration I put my foot straight through the screen of our brand new Black Friday television, badly gashed my leg in doing so but on the upside I was completely drunk!. Then she started: “are you mad?”, she screamed at me. “I don’t know, let’s ask the public” I screamed back, “tell you what, hashtag it ‘RUmad?’, inbox me and I’ll read out the best ones when I’m back from walking the dog”. “We haven’t got a dog” she countered. More bloody opinions. Anyway, it was my opinion that we did have a dog and I stormed out of the house with him / her. Well, fell out. Smashed the whiskey bottle too. Don’t worry, Rex was fine.

Anyway, my street has now got one of those little red neon stripes floating by at approximately knee level, you’ve probably seen them, just so people can share their thoughts as you go about your business. @Carlo_Fukz reckoned: “#RUmad? – OMG! adam dont even hav a dog lol” and @Kazzz45 who was more upbeat, added: “#RUmad? – gr8 to c Adam havin a L8 nite walk”.

I honestly don’t know what happened after that.

Ho Ho No!

🎼 “It’s Christmastime, and there’s no need to be afraid 🎶 …” firstly, with all due respect to Paul Young, it isn’t. Christmastime starts on the 25th of December and ends with the Epiphany on the 6th of January. The epiphany is the day you realise you’re fat and unhealthy and resolve to do something about it. But don’t.

Anyway, just to reassure you “🎶 There’s no need to be afraid 🎶” … unless of course you have Ebola, in which case you’re probably shitting yourself, both figuratively and literally but that’s not very Christmasy so we’ll gloss over Ebola for now.
*glosses over Ebola*…

Because: “🎶 At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade 🎶” … again, it isn’t, furthermore the letting in of light and banishing of shade does sound a bit UKIPy, in fact even UKIP aren’t so keen on letting in the light ones anymore, never mind banishing the shades, not very festive eh? Don’t expect to find them at many parties. Unless it’s the Nazi party of course.

Pressing on then … “🎶 And in our world of plenty 🎶” … at last a truth bomb from Boy George, it certainly is a world of plenty, especially if you’re Boy George but for the purposes of this experiment I’ll pretend that you’re not, in any case, even the poor can now get their hands on a slice of the “plenty” by fighting each other to the death for a cut price gogglebox.
Yes, our finest retail cathedrals of despair have declined the option of conducting their ‘Black Friday’ trade on-line because that’d be boring, they also ignored the recommendations of the police (not the band), who suggested perhaps giving people numbered tickets in an organised queuing system, but that was dismissed as too ‘low-key’. No, what they decided to do instead was invite the world’s media into their stores, arm their staff with semi-automatic assault rifles and simply fling the doors open to the baying mob to see what might happen.
That way anyone fortunate enough to survive the carnage and bag a bargain TV would be home in time to watch the ‘demonisation of the poor©’ on the 6 o’ clock news in glorious high definition. Yay for Black Friday! … the greatest story ever sold. Cheap.

Etc, etc “🎶 We can spread a smile of joy 🎶” … well, some of us can, anyone who witnessed Barry Manilow’s recent chat show appearances will know that he can’t. His face can’t smile at all, it also can’t sing, in fact it’s finding it hard to do anything. Cheers.
Now then … “🎶 Throw your arms around the world this Christmastime 🎶” … I won’t be attempting that either as I’ll have a large sherry in one hand and a ‘Kerry Katona’s Festive Fishy Ring’ in the other. I’m pretty sure the world doesn’t want to be covered in the contents of Kerry Katona’s Festive Fishy Ring. Moving on …

“🎶 But say a prayer (bom-didi-bom-didi-bom-didi-bom) to pray for the other one 🎶” … That’s Georgie Michaels there singing about Andrew Ridgeley if memory serves, Georgie was pretty toasted at the time though so who knows?. Never mind …
Because more importantly “🎶 There’s a world outside your window 🎶” … stay there, I’ll have a look … just opening the curtains … nah, just a street really, it’s a pretty small street too, nonetheless … “🎶 it’s a world of dread and fear 🎶” … as I live in North East London and only have one remaining window intact post Tottenham Riots I am at least inclined to agree with that bit.
Yada, yada, “🎶 Where the only water flowing is the bitter Sting© of tears 🎶”, as Sting© will only sing lines on charity records that deploy the cunning double meaning of his ridiculous name I’m going to ignore this bit. Prick. You’ve got 13,000 olive farms and a fleet of helicopters mate, you go feed the world, arsehole. Sorry. Anyway … Blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, “🎶 The clanging chimes of doom 🎶” … if you’re not familiar with The Clanging Chimes Of Doom, they were this year’s token goth band on X-crement Factory, or to give it its full title: ‘THE’ X-crement Factory. Now at least we are getting a little closer to the true meaning of Christmas.

“🎶 Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you 🎶” (he means him) … cries a relieved Bono, ditto that though eh?, yeah, isn’t it great that other people are dying of starvation and ravenous diseases and not us? Thank God eh? Come on, let’s party! Woo-Hoo!!!. Whatever happened to Bono by the way? No time for that now because apparently … “🎶 There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime (oh-no-no) 🎶” … Right, firstly, yes there fucking will, you’d think Midge Ure would know that having spent many a Winter on the ski slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, and secondly, a continent blighted by a crippling drought might actually (if you really think about it) quite welcome a bit more snow, especially when it all melts “underneath that burning sun”, y’know, if you really think about it.
Apparently Midge Ure was so ashamed of his geophysical ignorance, he’s spent much of the past 30 years claiming that Phil Collins came up with that bit, well he is a drummer. Apparently when they all rocked up to the studio that day they knew it was Phil at the door trying to get in because he knocked three times and then came in late. (BOOM-TISH!)

Anyway … “🎶 The greatest gift they’ll get this year is one of them dolls off of Frozen or an X-Box One Consul with ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’ and ‘FIFA 15’🎶”, pretty sure that’s what they meant even if wasn’t explicitly expressed in the lyric.
“🎶 Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow 🎶” … again this has got Collins’ fingerprints (though curiously no thumbprints) all over it as even in 1984 there were over 30,000 rivers in Africa, the majority of which did in fact flow. It also rains.
Yada, yada, yada, “🎶 Do they know it’s Christmastime at all? 🎶” … no, because they’re probably pointing out that isn’t Christmastime until the 25th of December, and even if it was Christmastime, they’d probably know that too, they’re hungry, not fucking stupid.
So there you have it, the true meaning of Christmas, patronising and factual inaccuracies all wrapped up in glib romanticism, a bit like the birth of Christ itself, y’know? if you really think about it. Ho-Ho-Ho.

What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?

In light of recent events, these are some hastily cobbled together words composed in order to make sense of a few days that have resonated with me in a profound sense. I appreciate that you don’t read this blog for all things profound. I’ll be dealing with Kim Kardashian’s ample posterior at a later date, so for now rest your pint glasses on it please.

Last weekend five teenage pupils from the same school were all killed in a horrific car crash in Yorkshire, and as I followed that gut wrenching story I got that shiver, that shiver born of sadness, grief, empathy, sympathy, familiarity and all its other less definable composite elements, that shiver that I’ve felt before.
When I was at college, two fellow pupils, one of whom was a friend of mine were killed on New Years Eve in 1988, their car had hit a tree on Ealing Common. Wayne Brown and Steven Shakespeare were both 17 years old. The sense of not knowing how to process that awful information was something that has stayed with me. I thought of them this week, their families, that horrendous time and I felt that shiver.

Sadly most people have a similar experience they can call to mind, almost everyone I’ve spoken to on this subject can remember a fatality of some description in their formative years and the feeling of having to rationalise something so awful at such an inappropriate and unforgiving age. Life and death is ultimately a numbers game, I remember barely anything my teachers told me at school but I do remember my sociology teacher Mr Stower once counting the heads in our classroom before announcing that of the 32 of us, three of us would be dead before the age of 30.

Also this week the soul singer Jimmy Ruffin passed away, he was 78 so his passing can’t be described as tragic but to me at least it was significant. He is one of my earliest memories of watching ‘Top Of The Pops’, a show I was obsessed with as a child. Thanks to YouTube I’ve worked out that it would have been Christmas 1975 when I saw him performing ‘What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?’, how pertinent.
Why pop music does not count as one of the seven wonders of the world is beyond me, but if ever it should and perhaps be defined by one crystalline moment or one song, I can’t think of a better one. It has to be Jimmy singing it though, everyone’s had their hands on that exquisite song and most have murdered it including me in a few karaoke bars. Jimmy didn’t shout it, his vocal was graceful and restrained and trembled in all the right places with not a single sentiment left unexpressed by the soul in his timbre.

Those two events are the melancholy bookends to a strange few days, between them is the death of Jeff Fletcher, the 36 year old ex guitarist of the band Northern Uproar. He was killed in a tragic road accident on Tuesday afternoon as he walked to the shops. On hearing the news I didn’t just shiver, I was stopped in my tracks. I then started seeing the headlines: ‘Ex Britpop Guitarist Tragically Killed’, I found it eerie. I’m an ex Britpop Guitarist. I also went to the shops on Tuesday afternoon but I made it home again. I don’t know why, I must be blessed.
I didn’t know Jeff personally but I met him several times as our paths crossed in the world of minor showbiz, the most significant in this context being when we both lived out our childhood dreams of actually performing on Top Of The Pops, we appeared on the same episode in 1997, in the same studio Jimmy had 22 years earlier. We spoke in the green room about being nervous and not knowing what to wear, and we smoked a joint in Albert Square as was traditional when appearing on Top Of The Pops. He seemed so ridiculously young. That thought echoed more profoundly this week.

As I walked my son home from school yesterday I held his hand so tightly that he had to ask me to let go, I didn’t even realise I was doing it, my internal mechanism had taken over, to cherish, protect, maybe just stop the shiver, who knows.
I can’t comprehend what Jeff’s loved ones are going through now, or those of the five students killed last weekend, if I can’t make sense of it, how do they even begin to?. What becomes of the broken hearted? (who had love that’s now departed) I don’t know that either. This blog probably doesn’t make much sense too but the intertwined elements of all of the above compelled me to write it all down, part cathartic, part thankful I suppose. It’s good to feel blessed, that’s about all the solace you can get from such tragedies but only because they’re not your tragedies.

REST IN PEACE:

Blake Cairns
Jordanna Goodwin
Arpad Kore
Megan Storey
Bartosz Bortniczak
Jeff Fletcher and
Jimmy Ruffin

BOOK CLUB!

Welcome to my new book club, where I’ll be delving into the world of looking at the world of looking at books, and boy there’s a lot of books out there to look at, all sorts of books, books about stuff but mainly books about autobiographies, so I’ve looked at those (in a broad sense). I can’t pretend to have read them but that’s not important in my book club. No snobbery here.
Now then, Socrates once claimed that “the unexamined life is not worth living”, not sure when he came up with that nugget but it would definitely have been in the period Boyd Hilton would refer to as ‘pre-Peter Andre’. Andre, the least enigmatic man since the dawn of time has had his life examined so thoroughly that ITV2 are now hiring cameramen with a background in proctology so that they can really, literally, physically get inside Andre, let’s face it, they’ve pretty much covered everything else, ‘What’s Inside Peter Andre?’ (Spoiler Alert: it’s chips and tears) airs in January with a book to follow. (ed: check this fact). No doubt Andre would claim his life is absolutely worth living and then he’d probably cry about it. Amazing.

Like most people, Andre was once married to Katie Price, Price is a behemoth in the world of autobiogs, she’s currently penning the sixth in her ‘me’ trilogy. She’d published the first five instalments before hitting the age of 35 and proved beyond doubt that you don’t necessarily need to have read a book to write six. Six bloody books?!?. Anyway, hers is a ridiculously examined life, mainly by her of course but that still counts. Far be it from me to disagree with Socrates but I disagree with Socrates, it was easy being all philosophical back then but this is 2014, shit’s more real now. At this juncture your typical student of philosophy will be scratching at a wispy beard and tutting, then she’ll be telling me I’ve missed the point. I probably have but I’m philosophical about it.

Other new books I’ve not read but are rubbish include offerings from Sir Anthony Worrall Thompson, Rio Ferdinand, Morph, Joey Essex, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Beale, Shnorbitz (ed: please check) and Roy Keane, all of which pack ‘explosive revelations’ or ‘contractual obligations’ as they’re also known.
Ferdinand’s tome ingeniously entitled ‘My Autobiography’ makes it clear from the get-go that he hasn’t written someone else’s autobiography, uh-uh, no, he’s written HIS autobiography, a refreshing spin on a tired format, I’m sure you’d agree. Although he didn’t actually write it himself of course, he’s not stupid, he paid someone even more not stupid than him to write it for him, they all do that y’know, that’s my shocking revelation.
Rio’s “sizzling” revelations were that John Terry is a bit racist and Ashley Cole is a knob. Who knew?. Roy Keane’s book ‘Mask Of Sanity’, his follow up to the best seller ‘Edge Of Reason’ is equally compelling (ed: check please), he describes how he once didn’t sign Robbie Savage because Savage is an arsehole. Imagine that if you can.
And speaking of Socrates, Joey Barton has recently aired his view that footballers who’ve achieved nothing in the game should not be writing books. No doubt he’ll include that in his book which is out next May. If you’re thinking that’s my best joke, it’s not, it’s true. Nothing funny is funnier than Joey Barton.

Kevin ‘KP’ Pietersen’s book is about other cricketers he doesn’t like and has caused shock waves in the world of people being interested in which cricketers don’t like which other cricketers. Moving on …
Ian Beale’s book ‘Bein’ Beale’ manages to be incredibly boring despite being choc full of tales of binge drinking, swingers’ sex parties, unspeakable violence, fisting and cocaine fuelled dogging benders (ed: check Ian Beale has written a book) (ed: remove these bracketed bits). Oh and I nearly forgot Harry Redknapp’s book, actually I did forget it, I can’t even remember if i read it, which means I probably did. Never mind.
Oh Christ, Russell Brand! … how could I forget Russell Brand? frankly how could anyone? he’s been on bloody everything from The Saturday Kitchen to John Craven’s Newsround furiously plugging his latest piece of merchandise whilst simultaneously raging against the capitalist model. Interesting angle. Frankly I’ve been far too busy wusy to read ‘My Revolutiony Wevolutiony’ but I did read the reviews. Apparently it’s just Karl Marx’ ‘Das Kapital’ with knob gags. Brand has also been widely accused of not having actually read the books he’s talking about. No comment on that.

A special mention at this point should go to young North West, the hilariously monikered offspring of Kanye West and her with the arse West, despite still technically being a ‘baby’, the promising infant has already drafted his first autobio, ‘North by North West’ is available exclusively at Mothercare and is actually far more readable than any of the aforementioned.

Well that concludes my book club, in short: if it’s ghost written, get someone to ghost read it for you (ed: check you didn’t steal that joke), or just don’t read it, or read a novel, even a crap one, speaking of which my book ‘The Devlin Side’ will be in all good book shops for Christmas and features a foreword from Ainsley Harriot, it’s the perfect Christmas gift for all ages at just £13.99. Ok, Join me next time for Wine Club, where I’ll be delving into the world of drinking wine in the world of wine. Chin chin.

If you’ve found these book reviews helpful, you can read some of my more ‘in depth’ material commissioned by the good people at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/cdp/member-reviews/ADD5FB2D6UV8W/ref=pdp_new_read_full_review_link?ie=UTF8&page=1&sort_by=MostRecentReview#R27Z0Z060Z6Q0C