Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"...brainy brainy brainy"

16.44 On Time
I thought the whole point of University Challenge was to answer as many questions as you could, as quickly as you could, and to give as many right answers as possible.

Turns out maybe not, if you're a girl.

I started off applying the 'furthest north/not Oxbridge' rule and cheered on Manchester. Especially the normal looking lad on the end who was obviously only there in case any sport/popular culture questions came up (when Paxo pronounced the music question to be 'classical' the poor sap visibly wilted).

Anyway, their captain was pretty much carrying them, so what's the big deal when the girl finally gets into her stride and starts hitting that buzzer?

*UPDATE* Common sense prevails.

And for the sake of completeness....

Brainy - The National
Get Smart - Cinerama
Beaten To The Punch - Elvis Costello
Lost - The Cure


Thursday, February 19, 2009

"...what really matters is what you like, not what you are like"

8.38 On Time
While delving back to find some proof of exactly how much half a cider used to cost I came across:

Feb 19th 1981
"Yesterday I bought Talking Heads and he bought The Stray Cats".

I should have been warned.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

16:44 On Time
As rash statements go telling your toddler that, while the juice has run out and the crisps have run out "the tickles will never run out" is a bit of a hostage to fortune.

Sure enough, before we draw up to the platform, the tickles are over.


"...but we seemed to grow up in a bus shelter"

7.38 On Time
I loved The Jam. Even if I didn't always get the lyrics right.

At first I luurved Bruce Foxton best - not sure why, was it about the hair? did it remind me of Eric out of the Bay City Rollers? But then, I only liked Eric because his favourite book was 'Lord of the Rings', it was nothing to do with his hair, so it makes no sense - but, on realising where the talent lay, quickly transferred my affections. They broke up before I could fall out of love, which is a smart move.

It perturbs me that Paul Weller appears to be a bit of an arse. However, I asked Google and the results were inconclusive.

Setting Sons - The Jam


"...that I was on fire for you"

We're both awake at 3:00am, but this is not about apportioning blame. He tells me he's been dreaming about Jeff Stelling Twittering about Chewits which, and I think it's to my credit, I'm able to find funny.

At 4:00am the cough mixture appears to be working and, were it not for the frustrating fragment of a song rattling around my head, there's no reason why I shouldn't be asleep again soon. I chase it round and round, tantalisingly close to grabbing the tail of the line. I'm almost there - no - it vanishes. I repeat the seven words I've got and then 'something something something' as the chorus disappears round the bend.

I overtake a couple more words "something 'Poet's Rest'" and am suddenly confident that it won't get away now. One final circuit and I've caught up:

"...well, if you must, you must, I suppose that...."

As I begin to relax on the home straight, a gentle snoring begins.

"you need the sleep of the just..."

Sleep Of The Just - Elvis Costello


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

14:53 Thirty Minutes Late
Compensating for the fact that lunch was nothing special The Course finished early.

It wasn't bad. I didn't scribble anything snide, or even doodle much, on my Holiday Inn notepad. Oh, unless "Future Proofing!!!!" counts. But that was ExLineManager.

The Trainer knew both what he was talking about and who he was talking too, which is uncommon. We are now all fired up and full of enthusiasm, which is also uncommon.

Setting Sons - The Jam


8.41 Two Minutes Late
But it all counts because I forgot, until I was a minute away from the station, that today I am on A Course. A Course which will begin at 9:15.

I send the same text to three people (on purpose) explaining that I might be a bit late and a strange calm settles over me. It's really most unusual. I'm not good at being late or unprepared, or not knowing exactly where I'm going, yet here I am: late, unprepared, not knowing exactly where I'm going, quite unfazed by it. There's absolutely nothing I can do and ... I like it!

When I arrive (9:14 - still time for coffee) I find a piece of paper in my pocket. It's from last night. Mantras to use in times of stress.

She didn't mention that you don't even have to say them.

Tales Of The Riverbank
Dreams Of Children
In The City
Smithers- Jones
Absolute Beginners


Monday, February 16, 2009

"...we've got a lot to learn from each other, we have got to stick together"

Watch out for Ra Ra Riot :all set to be this year's Vampire Weekend.
And I mean that in a good way.

(although the pictures will be of no help - guess I got too close again)

The Rhumb Line - Ra Ra Riot


Friday, February 13, 2009

"...do you still see the same old crowd, the ones who used to meet every Friday?"

21.45 Fifteen Minute Late - Waiting For A Driver
We'd been drinking and we'd been talking about drinking.

About how, when we were students (not all together, and not all at the same time, it was a work night out not a reunion. Except that it was a sort of reunion because of Charlie having left us in January) it wasn't really a case of deciding what you'd like to drink, it was a matter of choosing the lesser evil: crap cider, crap lager, crap white wine from the Offy before the event. It was very definitely a means to an end - except for ThesaurusBoy, who claimed to have enjoyed the taste of beer even then. Maybe it was different in Kent?

Charlie had recounted how great nights out in late nineties Reading could be got for under a fiver (50p for the cloakroom, £1 to get into the disco, £2 for two pints of snakebite and £1 for the taxi home) and I was thinking (while we were waiting for that driver) that I was pretty sure that £1 of your grant money was all that was needed to procure a great Ormskirk night in 1980: four halves of cider at 20p a go and 20p for three songs on the jukebox. Unless it was a Wednesday: Disco in the coffee bar. For free! Some weeks were better than others.

The more things change the more they stay the same. Some of my best nights are still on a couple of pints of cider and a handful of songs proving, I suppose, that it's not what you drink but who you drink it with.

Setting Sons - The Jam


Thursday, February 12, 2009

17.28 On Time
Thankfully, on time.
I'm tired. Light headed. I can't get warm. I'm soooo hungry.
And I've got another bloody cold.

I choose the uncomfortable, crowded, slooooooow train because of it setting off thirteen minutes before the comfortable, quiet, fast train. Perhaps that was a mistake, because now I'm sitting hemmed into a corner, with my knees pressed up against the rather chunkier knees of a woman dementedly intent on a word search, but I just wanted to get home.

When I get home I want to be made a fuss of, but unobtrusively, without the need for me to reciprocate or even acknowledge that any fuss is being made. I want solicitous (but restrained) attention: cups of tea, hot water bottles and chocolate. I want a deep, hot bath - with half a bottle of bubbles - but not the bother of running it. Then I want to be left alone, but not ignored.

All of which is a bit of a shame really as, tonight, it's just me. I get off the train and head for the chippy, prepared to wallow in vinegary self-pity and boil my own kettle.

Big Tears - Elvis Costello
Acid Test - Emma Pollock
Silent Sigh - Badly Drawn Boy
Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken - Camera Obscura


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

7.57 On Time
My lovely jukebox currently holds five thousand seven hundred and twenty five songs.

Of those five thousand seven hundred and twenty five only two of them are by Idlewild and only one is by Boo Hewerdine yet, since going to The Grand on Monday to see the catchily named trio 'Drever, McCusker & Woomble' (with Heidi Talbot and Boo Hewerdine), the jukebox - in approximately fifty minutes of play - has 'randomly' thrown up each of those three tunes.

Don't mean nuthin'.

American English - Idlewild
You Held The World In Your Arms - Idlewild
Patience Of Angels - Boo Hewerdine
Strange Things Happen - Billy Bragg


Thursday, February 05, 2009

7:57 Four Minutes Late
So, there I was, gazing out of the window and thinking about 'records' and the days of ‘I’ll do you a tape, if you like’ and about how illegal downloading isn’t killing music any more than home taping killed music because people who think music is important will always find ways to spend their money on it. And that led me to thinking about how expensive records seemed back then, how £2.49 was five weeks pocket money, and how the 50p a week I got from my Mum & Dad was supplemented by the 50p a week I got for going round to my Grandma and Granddad's after school every night to do their shopping. Then, before I knew it, I was remembering the awkward 10 minutes or so I used to spend, after the shopping was bought and put away, standing on the rug in front of the fire trying to think of things to say and wondering if I could leave yet.


Always standing because there was never anywhere to sit. The chairs, like every other surface, were cluttered with the things they had to keep within easy reach – not being particularly mobile, either of them - paperback westerns, knitting needles, oranges, The Yorkshire Post, a pack of cards, an ash tray – the fabulous, magic ashtray which opened up when you pushed down on the plunger and the ash and dog ends whirled down into it. It didn't, but really should have, played 'The Carousel Waltz at the same time – a tea caddy full of cigarette cards, custard creams, raffia, bundles of co op stamp books, wool, the current Empire Stores catalogue. And, beneath these essential day-to-day items, hoarded layers of randomly accumulated stuff that 'might come in'. From time to time there would be an avalanche.

Sometimes I had to get their tea as well. Sardines on toast or a sullenly scrambled egg. The kitchen was as cluttered as the rest of the tiny flat, and the surfaces always slightly sticky.

My Uncle Bob lived in the flat too. He used to climb telegraph poles for Norweb, until he went mad. He didn’t speak much. My Mum said that, when they were tiny, him and his twin brother developed a private language. Once they were apart he didn’t really communicate with anyone.

Because just getting up, never mind moving around, was a struggle, the fire was always on. Because my granddad chain smoked the walls were always yellow. Because my Mum did their laundry for them at the weekends there were always piles of unwashed clothes around.

Because of all these things, it was a flat you could barely breath in.

My Dad's mum lived in a house on the older estate, across the other side of the road, with a garage and a well tended garden. My Nana was the very definition of sprightly. Fastidious, abstemious, proper to a fault. She was climbing on chairs to dust the pelmets into her eighties but, because she didn’t need to offer me 50p a week to do her shopping, I saw far less of her.

And all because Rol mentioned 'records'.

The Old Church Is Still Standing – Martin Stephenson & the Daintees
My Little Town - Simon & Garfunkel

Costafine Town - Splinter
Hello In There - 10,000 Maniacs


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"You're older than you've ever been...and now you're even older"

16.53 On Time
I can't deny that things have become much clearer since the day Ahmed’s smiling eyes looked deep into mine. “You have a small face” he said. “Now: stare at this light. Now, follow my finger...”.

Over the last twelve months I've bought a sideboard, decided that maybe olives are not vile after all, joined the civic society and now: I own a pair of
reading glasses.

Grown up? Finally?

Older - They Might Be Giants
Growin' Up - Bruce Springsteen
A Lady Of A Certain Age - Divine Comedy
Help The Aged - Pulp


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