Monday, April 30, 2007

"It's four in the morning and once more the dawning..."

7.31 On Time
The milkman woke me up at four, and I've got both the songs in my head now.

Somewhere between 'Faron Young' and 'Goodbye Lucille' I realise it's 1985. I've been reading Clare's diary, where it's also 1985, and although both she and the maths tell me that's 22 years ago I know it isn't.

In 1985, through the points system and pestering the housing officer, I came to the top of the Council's list and got my own keys to my own front door. 1985 was all about decorating. About finding my feet and failing and succeeding - two steps forward one step back. Stock car racing and sherbet strawberries. Standing by the river in the rain, on the off-chance.

1985 was the real beginning.

Steve McQueen - Prefab Sprout


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sugar, We're Going Down

For a combination of reasons, at around 12 minutes past 3 on Saturday afternoon we found ourselves in a cheese shop in Wensleydale.

We sampled Wensleydale with blueberries and Wensleydale with ginger and Wensleydale with optimism as behind the counter the Saturday boy fiddled with the dial and attempted to tease an audible Radio Five out of the crackle and distortion. We left the cheese shop in an unsustainably positive frame of mind.

For tea it was Wensleydale with ashes and the bitter taste of defeat.

Sometimes I wish I could’ve grown up into one of those people who grow out of football.


Friday, April 27, 2007

7.31 Three Minutes Late
I am an idiot.
I have picked up the jukebox from my desk, where It has been recharging overnight, but it is only when the train rattles into action that I realise I have left the earphones behind.

It turns out not to matter in the least

GirlWhoTalksWithHerHands and ManWhoTalksToGirlWhoTalksWithHerHands fill the journey with an argument over whether it is or, whether it is not, possible to both sing and dance at the same time. The debate may have been instigated by Jamiroquai.
GWTWHH is a staunch defender of the sing & dance brigade.

MWTTGWTWHH scores an early own goal by citing several acts who dance, but obviously couldn’t summon up a tune if they swallowed a Berkeley Square of nightingales.
GWTWHH points out the obvious “Of course they’re miming! They can't sing!.”
On her team she has Kylie, Madonna & Take That.
MWTTGWTWHH insists that singing and dancing simultaneously is physically impossible and produces his big gun: Opera.
GWTWHH says they don’t dance in opera because there isn’t any dancing in opera. And brings on 'Cats'.
MWTTGWTWHH decrees that the ones who are singing in musicals are not the ones who are dancing, they are the ones who are standing in front of the ones who are dancing.

GWTWHH unveils her trump card: "Aguilera!".
MWTTGWTWHH skilfully moves the goalposts and introduces the concept of 'proper' singing and 'proper' dancing. He theorises at some length concluding "Proper dancing - Not this waving an arm around or dangling a leg about". He has come over all Alan Sugar. There can only be one winner here.

(Apologies to anyone who may have misread the penultimate sentence)


Thursday, April 26, 2007

17.12 On Time
We gathered around the water cooler (or we would've done, had it not been taken away last month in a bid to prove that if you look after the pennies the pounds will take care of themselves) to pool our thoughts:

We agreed that you can't go wrong with 'Horses', that Tre's re-interpretation of the 'fish and tits' pictures was impressive, that the 'Lips' woman was a bit of a princess (her opinion of blu tack? "It's a bit tacky" ... yeah, and it's, well, blue too, if you think about it) who was being indulged by her (much?) older husband, that Adam was being picked on because he's from The North, and that Katie's superiority complex will ultimately be her downfall.

...but they thought I was joking when I said I liked Nigel Grimmer's
RoadKill Family Album.

Good News For People Who Like Bad News - Modest Mouse


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Week 5 - I still don't like any of them

Well, TheAirHostess - what a bitch!

I can't say I'm Adam's biggest fan (can't tell you why, I'd have to kill you) but it just looked like a bunch of Poshies ganging up on the Northern Lad to me.

And what's all this about him moaning and being negative?

Is he not just saying "This is a stupid idea and we are wasting time" when the rest of them are running about like headless chickens. Or does running about like headless chickens count as 'energy'?

Still, there's one less interchangeable blonde to worry about.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

17.12 On Time
And today; the man who got barred from Boots for being too fragrant.

It seems he tested too many of the sample man-perfumes on display.
Now, me, I'd be banning the people who didn't use enough of the stuff.

(We don't know if it's just the one store, or the whole chain. )

Man Of Constant Sorrow - Soggy Bottom Boys
More Than I Miss You Ben Weaver
You Are The Everything - REM
Mrs Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel
Watercolours - Janis Ian
It's A Hit - Rilo Kiley
American Trilogy - Delgados


Monday, April 23, 2007

17.12 On Time
Overheard in the office: "He's getting too tall for tobacco. We need to start him on alcohol soon"

While on the train: "30p...That was six bob in Old Money".

On the seat across from me a bunch of pensioners reminisce about the big con that was Decimalisation. I sneer inwardly at their inability to get over 1971. Then I remember how long it took me to get over 1981 and don't feel quite so clever.

Belong - REM
Bitchenostrophy - Rickie Lee Jones
Both Sides Now - Joni Mitchell
Hallelujah - k d Lang
When I Dream - Teardrop Explodes
Is She Really Going Out With Him? - Joe Jackson
They'll Hang Flags From Cranes On My Wedding Day - Ballboy

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Friday, April 20, 2007

17.12 On Time
Today, there is neither sight nor sound of I'mOnTheJuryMe, for which I am relived.

It means I can listen uninterrupted to my new favourites, round and round and round, all the way home.

Keep The Car Running - Arcade Fire
Antichrist Television Blues - Arcade Fire


Thursday, April 19, 2007

17.12 On Time.
He's on the platform, I'm in my seat; but even at this distance I can tell he's one to watch. He bellows at his mobile:

"... so I've got to fill in loads more forms tomorrow...yeah, they want my normal working hours not what's on the contract... Court says I've got to sort it all out for the pension an' that, yeah? ... Yeah! Brian went ballistic." He sniggers.

My first impression, given his general demeanour, is that he's got himself some kind of employment tribunal.

"Heh, they laughed at work and said 'You'll end up in a long case you will' ...and I have...Brian went totally ballistic man. It's a major case. Sixteen weeks I'm going to be off work. I was sworn in this afternoon"

I hurriedly adjust my assumptions.

"I tell you man, it's huge. Sixteen weeks. There's extra police and the news. It's going to break all over the telly tomorrow. You should see the pile of evidence they've got ... I won't be back at work till August. Brian went b..."

Yes, I think we all know by now exactly how Brian feels about it.

"Four months it's going to be on. Its trafficking and prostitution and heavy shit...nah, won't bother me, but there's some girls on the jury going to find it hard ... there's four charges of rape...I'll just do what I've got to do me... "

At this point he discusses, at some length, the places of employment and appearance of a couple of the 'girls' on the jury. This is immediately followed by a reiteration of the seriousness of the case and the serious nastiness of the defendants.

"...No, but I can't tell you anything about it though man. The last thing the judge said was "You must not discuss this case with anyone". I'm on it for sixteen weeks now."

I can't help but think he probably isn't going to be, and that Brian will be seeing him back at work much, much sooner than anticipated.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


7.31 On Time
This won't be happening after all.
For I have allowed myself to be fleeced by a tout and I d o n 't c a r e.

Neon Bible - Arcade Fire


Monday, April 16, 2007

17.12 On Time
There was a buzz around the office this morning. BottomOfTheBarrel have been filming ThesaurusBoy and the Thespians. All reports are that it was one of the best shows ever and that ThesaurusBoy was outstanding. For once he seems comfortable with the plaudits and able to accept that he was involved in something which was actually not an unmitigated disaster.

His confidence is a joy to behold.

Later, we receive a letter from a man who caused a ruckus and got barred from Vision Express. ThesaurusBoy says: "He must've made a spectacle of himself."

Diamonds Are Forever - Cinerama
Love Story - Tilly & the Wall
Andy You're A Star - The Killers
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynryd Skynyrd
Dear Head On The Door - Alejandro Escovedo
To Cut A Long Story Short - Spandau Ballet
You Get What You Give - New Radicals
The Imposter - Elvis Costello
Man, It's So Loud In Here - They Might Be Giants


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Just don't mention the diet...

Had a lovely weekend sampling some Art, some Architecture and imbibing some local culture.

It's grim oop north in't it?


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Found this and the afternoon disappeared...


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Exercise Bike: 500 Calories - 45:03
I am becoming obsessed. The shadow of the exercise bike darkens my entire day.

Until I do it.

And then I am hungry.

Careless - Cinerama
Gin Soaked Boy - The Divine Comedy
Girl From Mars - Ash
My Life - Billy Joel
Reelin' In The Years - Steely Dan
16 Military Wives - The Decemberists
Gone For Good - The Shins
Straight And Narrow - Teenage Fanclub
Lovers Walk - Elvis Costello
Live & Let Die - Wings
My Wandering Days Are Over - Belle & Sebastian
Sometimes - James


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Exercise Bike: 500 calories - 45:16
Proof, if proof were needed, that I know a thing or two about lost causes and can be quite stubborn should the need arise. After all the effort (and there was effort) and all the abstinence (and there was abstinence) I lost a grand total of ZERO pounds last week. No pounds. Nothing. None at all.

I persist because I have told myself that the scales are broken. And, anyway, I feel thinner and, actually, my jeans are looser (so it is working) and, also, out of sheer bloody-mindedness because I have set myself a target and am not to be thwarted.

I have also just made eaten my first last "pro biotic" yoghurt.

It was from Booths and it had a picture of rhubarb on the label, so I didn't feel the need to examine it anymore closely. Sadly, in addition to being 'pro biotic' it was VERY LOW FAT (very small letters). It had the texture of wallpaper paste and the taste of ... wallpaper paste SWEETENED WITH APPLE JUICE (very small letters). I won't be doing that again.

Roll With It - Oasis
We Are The Pipettes - The Pipettes
Sea Legs - The Shins
Next Time Round - Elvis Costello
Poison In The Well - 10,000 Maniacs
Rainy Days And Mondays - The Carpenters
Hear Me Out - Ben Kweller
Big Shot - Billy Joel
I Can't Win - The Strokes
Teenage Kicks - The Undertones
It's About Time - The Lemonheads
Ain't Ho Sunshine - Bill Withers
Dress Up In You - Belle & Sebastian
Bottle Up And Explode - Elliott Smith


Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter

We have a Plan for the Easter Weekend. Four days of wire brushes, primer, gloss paint and white spirit. We intend to spruce up The Outside.

Friday morning: the sun shines as I enthusiastically undercoat the front gate, expecting it to be only a matter of moments before I am fighting off hordes of urchins all desperate to have a go. The eager urchins don't appear, but a cheeky scamp in a tracksuit tells me: "You've missed a bit there love". I smile. At this point I am still optimistic.

Saturday afternoon: I've already done two coats of gloss round the front. Now, instead of sitting in a pub in Manchester offering up another reason why the Decemberists are ace, I am standing in the wind tunnel of eternal shade by the side gate, fingers freezing, shoulders hunched. I am beginning to lose enthusiasm.
However the results are good (and the gate looks OK from a distance).

Sunday: The novelty has clearly worn off. We are both tired and quite grumpy ('quite grumpy' may be an understatement).
I notice that, although we have become less conscientious about the cleaning of the brushes the smell of white spirit is inescapable. My head aches. It dawns on me that the paint I'm now scraping from the shed door is from the Olden Days. Little lead loaded flakes settle in my hair, nose and mouth.

Monday: We have run out of steam. I don't care about runs and brush marks. I have no pride in my work. The motto is "It'll do". At 12:35 it begins to rain. We can stop and eat chocolate. There is a god!

Alternatively. Oh. No. There isn't.

Best music for delicately applying the top coat with precision and the sun on your back while thinking about Claire Fisher: Transatlanticism - Death Cab For Cutie

Best music for slapping it on thick, not worrying about drips, just getting it done before it rains: Scumbody Told Me - Arctic Monkeys v Killers


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Exercise Bike: 500 Calories - 47:42
As I pass through the Five Phases of Exercise Bike (resentment, discomfort, boredom, resignation, relief) I pick up where I left off yesterday, and think about UnrequitedLove.

Between the ages of fourteen and sixteen he made double chemistry bearable.

I don't know what he's doing now, but I don't wonder about it.
He was insanely young when he got married, but I would be unreasonably disappointed to find out he no longer is. He won't have set the world of electrical appliances alight, but that will be because he never wanted to. He will hang curtains and put up shelves for old ladies and they will dote on him. He will be a solidly reliable committee member of LakeDistrictFC, possibly in charge of coaching the under 12's.

(It may be observed that I didn't feel the need to be attracted to 'bad' boys)

I don't regard all those hours of worship and quiet torment as wasted (especially not the ones spent on the touchlines of assorted football grounds in assorted varieties of hail and sleet) but, to misquote Billy Bragg, I found out he liked Status Quo and I stopped loving him.

You've Got Her In your Pocket - White Stripes
Paint It Black - Rolling Stones
Try Again - Keane
About You - Teenage Fanclub
The Impossible Dream - Jokers Wild
I Fought In A War - Belle & Sebastian
Blackberry Way - The Move
Idioteque - Radiohead
The Bagman's Gambit - The Decemberists
Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Why You'd Want To Live Here - Death Cab For Cutie
Losing My Religion - REM


I finished the Pie book.

I think I'm on my own in this, but I preferred it to the Cider book.
Too much space devoted to Liverpool & Manchester of course, and ever so slightly riled by the lazy reliance on the Tyke stereotype, although I feel we get the last laugh thanks to that "my other team were Leeds United" revelation. Ha! The 1975 European Cup Final. There will always be scars.

Also, the idea that Hebden Bridge is Yorkshire's answer to Austin intrigues me.

At the last page I felt ever so slightly bereft. And it made me want to go home.

[I was also happy to be reminded of having been disturbed by 'The Owl Service' at an impressionable age - 'disturbed' in a good way as well as scared stiff - there was a lot of myth-stuff going on that I didn't understand, but there were other bits I read more than once that I'd understood perfectly the first time round. If you catch my drift.]


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Exercise Bike: 500 Calories - 48:13

At 48:14 minutes I'm lying on the floor panting as Janis Ian comes on. That damn basketball line gets me every time.

Fifth Form: In the gym, warming up before the game. Split into teams by the teacher so none of that 'names never called' nonsense today. There's some pointless running about followed by some shooting practice, and for added edge 'Lets make it a competition shall we?'

I am on the same team as UnrequitedLove, but can hardly be surprised as one of the reasons I've chosen to do basketball is because of the calibre of boy who also chooses it. The other reason being that the alternative to basketball is badminton. I know I'm rubbish at sport, but being rubbish at basketball is infinitely preferable to being rubbish at badminton.

I am strangely sanguine about the impending humiliation. It's not as if me being rubbish at sport will come as shock to anyone and, thankfully, the pointless running about has seen to it that I'm already a frightening shade of red, so any tell-tale blushing will be nicely concealed.

UnrequitedLove's friend has got our team off to a flying start with three out of three. He throws the ball to me and, because he is a nice boy, is encouraging rather than intimidating.

What happens next is:

I shoot and score. I shoot and score. I shoot and score.

You weren't expecting that now were you?

...Baby One More Time - Fountains Of Wayne
With Arms Outstretched - Rilo Kiley
Can't Stop Now - Keane
Tomorrow I'll Be Nine - Eels
How Was It For You - James
Solisbury Hill - Peter Gabriel
The Happy Goth - Divine Comedy
Pyramid Song - Radiohead
Morning's Eleven - Magic Numbers
It's A Hit - Rilo Kiley
Just A Day - Feeder
Close To No One - Cure/Beatles
At 17 - Janis Ian


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It was about this time of year, maybe slightly later because the air was warmer and there were more leaves. In the memory I am standing looking out across the playing field when Lorraine’s mum stops and asks me if I’m O.K.

I don’t think I was crying then, but she could tell that I had been.

We carry on, walking towards the Estate together and, at the end of the conversation, just before she turns off into their drive, she says: “It’s not the hitting that does it. It’s the other women.”

At the time I was too grateful and too taken aback to disagree but,
although I would never admit it, I found ‘the other women’ a blessing. Someone else to share the burden. Someone else to take the pressure. Best of all, an evening free from the fear of misjudging the tone, of getting something inexplicably, horribly wrong, of saying the wrong word and watching the clouds descend and waiting to take the blame.

For me it was the hitting that did it.

This Spring the Mass Observers want to know about domestic violence. I don’t know what to tell them.


Exercise Bike: 500 Calories - 49:48
I am worse than ever!!!
I know it's because my knees hurt from cleaning floors, and my back aches from hoovering, and my legs haven't recovered from yesterday (and that Adem song is particularly useless for cycling) but it's still a rubbish time.

Fighting In A Sack - The Shins
A Case Of You - Joni Mitchell
Parliament Square - Stina Nordenstam
We're Going To Be Friends - White Stripes
I'm Lonely (but I ain't that lonely yet) - White Stripes
Waiting For The Moon To Rise - Belle & Sebastian
Say Hello To Angels - Interpol
Turn On Me - The Shins
Life In the Fast Lane - The Eagles
Happiness - Teenage Fanclub
Long Drive Home - Adem
Something's Going On - Lambchop
Greatest Living Englishman - Martin Newell
Your Love Is Like Las Vegas - The Thrills


Monday, April 02, 2007

Exercise Bike: 500 Calories - 48:53.
Not terribly impressive.

Five minutes outside my PB, but then it must be over twelve months since I set that record. I've been slacking and shirking and making excuses, but the truth must be faced - it's less than six weeks to The Holiday and, if I'm to fit into the clothes I bought for last years holiday and leave some space for those American breakfasts, I will need to take some action. Not drastic action. Six pounds should do it, though eight would be ... well, you know how it goes...

I have prepared A Plan. There's nothing cunning about it, it's totally obvious and 100% miserable. Calories out must exceed calories in and no alcohol on a week night. To help kick start the whole dreary enterprise however, I have two weeks off work - it should eliminate the need for comfort eating at least.

Let's see what happens...

(I think we can probably guess)

A Girl Like You - Edwyn Collins
Let Love Not Weight Me Down - Ed Harcourt
Truth Doesn't Make Noise - White Stripes
All You Pretty Girls - XTC
Yellow Sun - The Raconteurs
Bring It On - Gomez
Promises - Badly Drawn Boy
He Lays In The Reins - Calexico/Iron & Wine
High & Dry - Radiohead
Reckless - Tilly & The Wall
End Of The World - Skeeter Davies
Spirit Fingers - Four Tet
Moonlighting - Leo Sayer


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