A failure in representation…

Apparently, TV in the UK is ‘failing to represent society‘. This is problematic for me for a couple of reasons:

  1. For the most part, TV programming in the UK appeals to those with the lowest artistic and intellectual capacity. The schedules are crammed so full of utter tripe that the whole nation comes to a standstill just to watch people baking cakes during prime time. When did we all get so dumb?
  2. If you are part of an under-represented demographic, do you really want to be a part of the above? Do you need to swim in that stream of steaming effluent? Will adding another shade of skin to the dispiriting catalogue of crap that is fed through our TV tubes enrich your community?

Surely you’ll just be sucked into the mire with the rest of the loons who are content that Chris Evans and Claudia Winkleman earn what they do for just turning up.

You’re best off staying clear of the whole miasma…


Portable magic…

IMG_0132I’m raking in the coals of memory again.

An aunt had given us books as presents for Christmas. I got Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

They were all abridged versions, and must have been from one of those cheap imprints where the classics cost a pound each. The covers were off-white and upon opening, already had that musty, ancient book smell – they must have sat upon a shelf in a warehouse for some time.

But the enchantment contained therein was rich and potent. I had classics in my hand and I would read them all. I would smell them and read them, and stare for what seemed like hours at the cover images before I even dared to open them and suckle at the dark nipple of gothic romance.

And, despite what christians will tell you, Dickens’ Christmas classic is the ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’ – a tale of self-discovery and redemption that never gets old, and which is constantly re-told and re-invented. Stephen King’s utterance on books being a kind of ‘portable magic’ never rang so true as in my days and weeks with those volumes.

While visiting my parents, I found two of the books amongst dozens, possibly hundreds from my childhood on some shelves in the basement. They were part of the ‘Minster Classics’ range, and my missing version of Frankenstein is still available online second-hand (just ordered myself a copy!).

Another realisation (for classic horror movie fans only), is that the cover image the Minster edition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde seems to be a combination of Fredric March’s Dr. Jekyll from 1932, and John Barrymore’s Mr. Hyde from 1920 – currently available to watch for free.


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…