I arrived for lunch at The Woodman like a hero. Apparently the Kronenbourg 1664 pipe had just been cleaned (just for me) and Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas is blaring out in the background – on of my all-time favourite tunes. The overall experience is only sullied slightly by the sound of one of the older regulars who likes occasionally to clear his throat (and possibly his lungs!) in the loudest and most mucousy way possible.

Then comes I’m a Believer by The Monkees and my heroic mood subsides at the sheer beige-ness of the music.

Tiny Dancer by Elton John grinds its heels into the charred remains of my former elation and I’m back to trying to pick out distant conversations while people-watching over my notebook.

Oh fuck! Cat Stevens!

I don’t know the name of the song but I know it and I hate it. He was the archetypal merchant of what someone once described as ‘music for bed-wetters’. I’d rope a fair few other ‘artists’ into that category, including the current apotheosis, Ed Sheeran. On the one hand, I’m happy that an average-looking and gawky bloke can have the opportunity to be the biggest pop star in the world without having to trade on looks, but on the other, did he have to do it all with such bland music?

Ah, Creedence Clearwater Revival improves things, ‘I wanna know, did you ever feel the rain…’

This is what was commonly referred to once as a ‘Choon!’ – an exclamatory ejaculation best delivered out of a car window with the stereo cranked up to 10!

Unfortunately, most people seem to play shit choons this way. I mean, when was the last time that some idiot pulled up at the traffic lights with music blaring, and you wanted them to turn it up some more?

Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Hated it in 1982 when it topped the hit parade, but now it’s a part of the nostalgic landscape (or soundscape).

Bollocks! Returning from the loo, UB40’s Red, Red, Wine (whine?) has just started. Regardless of the decade though, I’ve always thought that they were the sound of boredom. Maybe it’s just because that reggae rhythm seems to be the same for every song in the genre – or is that the point of it? Just something to nod your head to while you get high?

The music then subsides and my next pint is slipping down to the accompaniment of the raucous braying from a bunch of young suits at the first table in the restaurant area next door.

Suddenly I’m hoping for more UB40 to drown out their noise…

(And yes, the sobriety only lasted 11 days!)

Day of the dead…

So, George A. Romero and Martin Landau both gone within a day or so of each other: the former played a big part in my teenage years as a horror movie fan, with Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and Creepshow among others. All were VHS staples in my house, and all were probably well worn out by the time I got to replace them on DVD.

The latter was a hero earlier in my childhood as Commander Koenig in my favourite childhood sci-fi TV show (apart from Doctor Who), Space 1999.

Landau of course, won an Oscar for his betrayal of another of my heroes, Bela Lugosi, in Ed Wood.

Zombies and sci-fi – there goes my youth!


This is the wagon…

…upon which I now find myself:


I don’t like to post personal ‘poor me’ stuff, but in giving up the booze for the foreseeable future, it seemed sensible to say it publically. This way, friends that drop by this blog can hold me to account if they see me with a drink in my hand.

Charles Bukowski said it better than I ever could:

“Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you’re allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It’s like killing yourself, and then you’re reborn. I guess I’ve lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now.”

No more killing myself…

The Beat(en) Generation…

Some songs are timeless:

When you cast your eyes upon the skylines of this …
Once proud nation
Can you sense the fear and the hatred
Growing in the hearts of it’s population?

And our youth, oh youth, are being seduced
By the greedy hands of politics and half truths

The beaten generation, the beaten generation
Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation
The beaten generation, the beaten generation
Open your eyes, open your imagination

We’re being sedated by the gasoline fumes
And hypnotised by the satellites
Into believing what is good and what is right

You may be worshipping the temples of mammon
Or lost in the prisons of religion
But can you still walk back to happiness
When you’ve nowhere left to run?

If they send in the special police
To deliver us from evil and keep us from peace

Then won’t the words sit ill upon their tongues
When they tell us justice is being done
That freedom lives in the barrels of a warm gun?

The beaten generation, the beaten generation
Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation
The beaten generation, the beaten generation
Open your eyes, open your imagination

Formerly forbidden fruit…

asterixWhen at primary school, we’d visit the local library every two weeks. You could borrow up to six books, but only from the children’s section. This was good, as it contained all the Doctor Who novelisations and ghost story anthologies that I loved to read, but access to the adult and young adult sections was strictly forbidden. These contained the horror books that I craved, and also the comic books – specifically Asterix and Tin Tin. Marvel and DC were great for action, but if you wanted something funny and clever, then it had to be one of the aforesaid.

It’s taken about forty years, but I’ve finally got my own collection of Asterix books started with the first three omnibus editions that I received for my recent birthday. So I’ve matured (slightly!) since last reading them, but I’d managed to remember the names of all the main characters and the stories are still great fun (if filled with torturous Latin puns!). And, owning them now brings so much satisfaction after being repeatedly told ‘no’ at school. It was snobbery really – comics and graphic novels weren’t considered real books, and certainly weren’t recognised as literature.

Thankfully attitudes are changing…