Thursday, April 27, 2006

"Equal parts malice and orgiastic delight"


The very idea of John Prescott having sex makes me want to vom. It’s really not a huge effort to imagine the bruiser’s bulldog-licking-piss-off-a-nettle face contorted into a sex-grimace, equal parts malice and orgiastic delight – a vile image. A real erection-killer. I wish I’d been able to visualise it when I was a bit younger and my private parts were considerably less in my control. That time on the trampoline, for example, which to this day I haven’t quite managed to live down.

What is it about politicians that makes them all want to fuck each other / their staff / their guide dog? God knows that as a breed they’re a pretty repugnant lot. Whilst I’m sure that, say, John Major* may have many redeeming qualities, raw sexual magnetism isn’t one of them. Is it? Or have I missed something?

In a way I suppose it’s quite nice (maybe nice is the wrong word: ‘apposite’ is better) that our elected representatives are just as lowdown and sleazy as the rest of us. This is, after all, a nation that cares more about what size tits Chantelle from Big Brother has, or about who the next England manager’s going to be, than the 35,000 innocent people who’ve died in US-whipped hostilities in Iraq since 2003. For example.

* heh. Can I do my “What’s grey and tastes of Currie” joke now?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Don't say 'for the craic'"

It’s St Patrick’s Day this Friday. Give a fuck about St Patrick’s Day.

I mean, what: am I Irish? Do I seem Irish to you? I was born in England, you fuckers, and I still live in England now, and apart from a brief stint in Edinburgh (which is, let’s face it, virtually England anyway) I’ve lived in England my whole entire life. So why on Earth should I feel any compulsion to drag myself to a horrendous tar-stained bar, bedeck myself in green and orange, and sing along like some kind of barely-conscious chimp to mock-Mick songs? And don’t say “for the craic”, you stupid, gullible, manipulated idiot.

It’s always the same. I resist fearsomely, noting to all and sundry that I consider the commemoration of the Irish’s ritual nationalistic hoo-ha to be about as relevant to my life as the Black Death. But accusations of spoilsportiness eventually see me standing in the local faux-Paddy pub, rubbing shoulders with drunk tarts, smelly leprechauns and the homeless, drinking Guinness from plastic glasses. And hating it.

What a waste of time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not getting all raw-knuckles and BNP about this. I consider all nationalism to be preposterous, not least that of the land of my birth. But if there’s one thing more ridiculous than celebrating a xenophobic, thuggish and primitive concept of national pride, it’s celebrating someone else’s – and doing so only because business people in suits think it’s a good way to shift stout. Guinness is, in my opinion, if anyone cares, a very nice drink, but one I wish to consume when I wish to consume it. Not merely when Diageo’s marketing wankers decide that their coffers need boosting.

Don’t you people realise what’s going on?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Foot in Mouth

I had a job interview today.

My prospective employers told me that I had a good CV, but I was overqualified and might get bored with the routine.

"Don't worry," I said. "It's the same problem with my current job."


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"Only influenced everything that’s a bit shit"

Come on. The Beatles were a bit shit, weren’t they?

I don’t mean in the same way that, say, Cast were a bit shit – or indeed in the same way that getting stabbed in the eyes with a steak knife is a bit shit. I just mean that if you add up all of their distinctly unimpressive parts, you don’t – despite all the hoo-ha and the wibbling of hands in the air – really get anything of any critical note whatsoever.

Sure, they knew how to bash out a good tune occasionally, but it should be pointed out that for every Hey Jude there was a Maxwell’s Silver Hammer to fuck up the balance. And you can chuck out anything pre-Rubber Soul right now. I was listening to She Loves You and Love Me Do today, and my ears threw up.

Then take the individuals concerned. (No please: take them). What were The Beatles, really? A drummer who couldn’t drum, a pair of singer-songwriters with the quality control and vocal ability of a tramp going through a bin, and another bloke who people only remember because he was once alive and now he’s dead. Chuck in dodgy barnets and rampant egos all-round, and it’s a matter of some stultifying alarm that this decidedly average quartet are revered in some quarters as simply the utterest rock colossi that ever did bestride.

Some define their greatness by their influence on the shape of 20th Century pop music. Well, fine – I take that to a point. It’s the reason that my stupid A-level music textbook featured, alongside Mozart, Liszt and Beethoven, Eleanor Rigby. But it’s arguable that The Beatles only influenced everything that’s a bit shit about modern music: Keane, the Stereophonics, James sodding Blunt. Simple chord progressions, lyrics about love and tweeness, style over substance; fame by being in the right place at the right time and looking a bit pretty.

Look, I’m not saying they were awful. Skunk Anansie and Belle & Sebastian are awful. The Beatles were merely bland: average look, average sound, average songs. The fact they endure to this day is testament not to some ethereal greatness on their part, but merely forty years of brilliant and opportune marketing, a wagon's worth of middle-aged nostalgia, and a rather willful tendency amongst many to overlook the great big buckets of cack that comprise much of their back catalogue.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy New Year!

Remember kids, don't get into strange cars with strange men.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Although, yes, I'd love a pint. If you're buying"

Last night I stood on a hot stage in a crowded pub and sang my little heart out. Hit my notes, the band kept time perfectly, and I didn’t forget many of my words. Even when I did it didn’t seem to matter, because the crowd kept going fucking bananas.

I swear, it was like I was Tom Jones or something. Girls and boys alike whooped and hollered and begged – begged! – for more. Knickers were thrown and everything*.

And I stood there, bathed in red and yellow lights, sweating like a nonce on the run, being treated like some kind of God. And thought: How peculiar. I mean, I’m only me. Radiohead song ‘How To Disappear Completely’ is about just that feeling. You catch your own eye from a different perspective, and ask yourself: what the hell is going on?

Sure, it’s seductive, this being the centre of attention lark. For the rest of the evening I was bought drinks for and celebrated. One very drunk man described it as 'the best live gig he'd ever been to', which presumably says much more about his social life and blurred senses than any particular genius on our part. But whoop: it was great, man. Easy to see why people leave their jobs and go on the road in cacky Volkswagens in search of it.

But it’s not real. It’s all just part of the lunatic miasma in which we cover ourselves, just so that we as a species can get through the day. It doesn’t mean anything, nothing at all. It’s false, it’s fake. I’m no better a person than I was before I got up in front of everyone and trilled along for a bit. But now because everyone’s seen me singing a high E flat it seems I’m worth so much more to people. Well, fuck you all. Although, yes, I'd love a pint. If you're buying.

I couldn’t do it for a living, not that I’m pretending to be remotely good enough to, anyway. The buzz of performance is amazing. The thrill of getting things right in front of people will never die. But just self-indulgent, selfish, nonsense. No way to live your life. Ego injection. Meaningless.

There are more important things.

* OK, so not really. But it’s the sort of thing that might have happened.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Italian Job

Last weekend I went to Italy, to the Apulia region in the south. A family friend is renovating a house in Fasano, so I went with my dad and my brother-in-law to see how things were going. I won't bore you with every little detail about the trip, but I wanted to note down a couple of interesting things. Humour me.

Firstly, there were olive trees everywhere I looked. In the fields, in the town squares, in my hotel room... EVERYWHERE! Apparently - though I can't verify if this is true - it's illegal to chop down an olive tree; they're too precious a national resource. If you don't pull it up by the root when it first starts to sprout, then you're stuck with it forever, even if it's growing in your hotel room. Myself, I love olive oil, can't get enough of it in my cooking, but not sure if this law makes a lot of sense. Like I said, I couldn't verify it, so it might be bollocks.

Secondly, the region of Apulia is famous for these funky little buildings called Trulli. They have a distinctive conical shape, they're made of limestone, and they'd make a perfect home for a hobbit. UNESCO has labelled the region a world heritage site on the basis that Trulli are "an exceptional example of a form of building construction deriving from prehistoric construction techniques that have survived intact and functioning into the modern world." Couldn't have put it better myself.

Thirdly, Italian TV is shockingly awful. I had the misfortune to sit through a variety show where Patrick Swayze was wheeled onto a stage and several hysterical women competed for a dance. The Dirty One didn't speak a word of Italian and looked dazed and confused, like he'd been knocked over the head and abducted beforehand. One of the trials was to walk across a log. Another was to kiss and fondle a life-size cardboard prop. When the "lucky" finalist got to do the tango with Swayze, he took a couple of faltering steps and fell over. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion. I think the kidnappers were a touch overzealous when they bagged 'im.

Fourth, the weather. It was early December, and the sun was still shining and the sky was a clear blue. Not a cloud in sight. The temperature took a steep drop in the evening, but that's about as extreme as it got. Meanwhile, back in London, you got rained on. Repeatedly.

Finally, the FOOD. It was DELICIOUS. A typical meal was four or five courses and took place over three hours. It was a challenge, but I acquitted myself admirably. On the final day my dad and I visited a supermarket to empty our wallets and fill our arms - olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, pesto, pasta, panettone, the works. Smuggling it back into the UK proved troublesome because the airline had some bullshit policy of baggage limitation, but I stuffed it all under my jumper and the woman at the check-in didn't even notice. It was the perfect crime, except now my clothes smell of cheese and vinegar.

It was a nice little break, and I'm definitely going back soon.

Italy, I love you.