Saturday, March 29, 2003

The Garraway experience

Recent phrases upon which this site have been found include “my sister has very big boobs”, “Vicki little biggest boobs” (twice), “Michael Jackson with boobs” and just to prove they aren’t all about boobs, “New builds in Rickmansworth”.

However, in recent weeks I have enjoyed somewhat of a spike in my stats. I now attract about 50 visitors a day; this is not just down to my biting yet hilariously comical views on life and its absurdities. This is down to Kate Garraway.

Kate, GMTV’s second string Couch Cookie, Settee Siren, Chaise Longe Chanteuse, is the reason for no less than 30% of my search engine referrals. She attracts more than the next twenty-two most popular subjects put together – including her arch nemesis Fiona Philips, Blazin’ Squad, Amanda Holden, Michael Jackson (with or without boobs), and SAS Are You Tough Enough?

So why is this GMTV Sofa Sexpot playing second fiddle on Britain’s favourite morning TV programme? Clearly her popularity is not being exploited to it’s fullest. I decided that these stats needed a wider airing so I’ve written to her agent Jayne Roseman.

Dear Jayne
In the course of writing an online log for my web site I have come across some very interesting information, which you may find useful in developing the career of your client Kate Garraway.

To provide you with some background, I recently critiqued a web site that referred to Kate and her GMTV colleague Fiona Phillips rather ungraciously, as “Big Titted”. My view being that this was a sad reflection of the FHM/Loaded world we live in, one which defines the complexities of personality in terms of physical attributes and sex.

The mere mention of Kate’s name on the site caused in a leap in the number of people visiting. 30% of referrals from sites like Google come through people searching her name. Fiona Phillips, by comparison, has attracted just two visitors in the same period of time.

It strikes me that when negotiating for a client you are probably often required to call upon subjective notions of popularity and ability in trying to secure a deal. However, saying it and proving it after very different things. The statistics surrounding Kate appear to be a very useful objective measure of her popularity and may prove to be useful in providing leverage in any future negotiations you may hold on her behalf.

I personally find Kate to be a pleasant, bright and able presenter, comfortably able to deal with the complex demands of a magazine show like GMTV. As such she is surely well positioned to occupy, what might be described as the Yummy Mumsy niche previously occupied by Judy Finnigan, Fern Britton (another of your clients I notice) and perhaps most recently by Carol Smilie. Clearly these people have developed lucrative and successful careers on the back of a wholesome image and a certain degree of sassyness. I think that Kate is in good stead to step into their shoes, or at least into a role with more prominence at GMTV.

Whilst my site is hardly a barometer for the nations affections, the popularity of Kate is so overwhelming, I thought it was worth letting you know to arm you with additional objective material in future contract negotiations. I hope this helps.

Kind regards


Thursday, March 27, 2003

Dance of the mad

My dad said the sheer size of the British economy truly struck home when he saw an articulated truck full of Halls Mentholyptus. Imagine the number of packets that truck contained, consider how many people are required to eat those packets, and yet consider still the absolute inconsequence of cough sweets. Vast numbers consuming inconsequential produce = UK Plc.

You get similar awe (but, alas, no shock) hanging around the Olympia Exhibition Centre for a week.

My week has been spent at Olympia exhibiting at a rather dull show, it wasn’t an IT show, as the tarty yet strangely attractive girl in the tight top, short skirt and long boots claimed as she handed out leaflets to anyone who would stop and stare, but it wasn’t far off. As an aside, yes, the trick of using dolly birds to sell products still works an absolute charm. My exhibition contained people in suits, or if they were really modern, in polo shirts and slacks.

The other events going on were more interesting. Professional Beauty 2003 featured a host of satellite exhibitions including The Vitality Show, and my personal favourite, the Professional Spa Exhibition. Replacing that was the opening day of Stitch 2003, the national sewing show, and, incidentally the flagship event of National Stitching Week.

To appreciate the impact of these shows in terms of economic worth, you have to appreciate the role of the exhibition. Exhibitors buy stands for as much as £400 a square metre. This must be paid for through sales they wouldn’t have otherwise got, to a value over the cost of the stand. Put it this way, you don’t get much change from £5,000 for an exhibition stand. You have to sell an awful lot of string and needles to justify that.

The anthropological slant on exhibitions is also worth noting. The shows are honey pots around which cluster like-minded individuals. As I travelled in to set up my stand on Monday, the train was full of glamorous women. I would call them beautiful, but they were only beautiful in a caricatured way. The application of copious amounts of make-up was impressive, but the resulting look was, well, a bit plastic. My nostrils singed with the stench of perfume, and that peculiar smell of what I’ve always assumed, without foundation, to be foundation. If you were to score them for their looks against the classic beauty traits, they’d do well – red lips, glowing skin, long eyelashes. To look at them less objectively, you’d realise there were quite a lot of pigs amongst them.

More interesting still was the clientele of Stitch 2003. They were either over weight, or worryingly emaciated. Either way they all looked troubled and worn down by life. Perhaps entering Stitch 2003 relieved them from their troubles. Indeed looking over the shoulder of the doorman as I walked towards Kensington High Street for a sandwich, the hall was full to the rafters. It was like witnessing the movements of an Orc mine, only with ambient lighting and shopping trolleys.

At the end of each day these people spill back onto the streets and gradually dissipate throughout the city, and eventually the country. So rarely are they quorate, you hardly notice their contribution to the world that turns.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Emma's big pun

Emma’s assistant at school is a master at turning molehills into mountains; the simple task of organising children to get ready for PE becomes the equivalent of organising the Million Man March and The Poll Tax Riot in the Sahara, and then coinciding that with the first Saharan Winter Olympic Games. She has been charged with putting together the school summer concert. According to Emma…

“She’s making a right song and dance about it”

Saturday, March 22, 2003

War war is stupid and people are stupid

That’s my second favourite Rubbish Lyric With A Sensible Sentiment (RLWASS). My favourite RLWASS is on People are People by Depeche Mode; “People are people so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully”.

Nobby has made an interesting comment on his web site that him and the wife (Vicki) are ‘pro war’. Because he’s chosen not to elaborate, is a startling and jarring statement. I know he likes military history, but this is taking it rather too far.

I’m sure it’s not as simple as that, and that the Dobscrubs are not essentially ‘Pro War’, unlike Colonel Bob on GMTV yesterday who described the arrowhead positioning of British tanks, a classic attack formation, as giving him a “Soldierly excitement”. He also described the death of eight service men in a helicopter crash as “Lousy”. Colonel Bob could provide good value during this war.

It made me think about my stance, and that being anti-war/pro-war is really not enough to define how I feel. I’m not a cabbage munching pinko commie, I actually believe there is such a thing as a ‘just war’. I believe the first Gulf conflict was a “just war”, because a. the invasion of Kuwait, and b. Oil. The protection of oil is a valid reason for going to war. Conflicts only ever arise over two things, ideology, and resources. For some reason, according to anti-war protestors the protection of resources is no longer a valid reason for going to war. Which bucks the whole of human history.

With the exception of Colonel Bob and his soldierly excitement, I don’t think that many people are “pro-war”; few are excited by the prospect of wading in with tanks and planes bombing the hell out of Baghdad. I know I’m not, but the warmongering stick is convenient for anti-war protestors looking to simplify the argument to suit their ideal.

In isolation, I believe the current conflict is a just war. It is widely accepted that Saddam Hussain and the higher echelons of the Iraqi regime are a brutal lot and that rest of Iraq is probably politically moderate, preferring to get on with their lives. Unfortunately these people probably can’t because they live under Saddam’s hammer. I also believe that it’s not all about oil. If it was, we’d be invading Venezuela, who’s oil supplies are probably bigger than Saudi Arabia and therefore have a huge impact on the US economy.

Added to this, is something that stuck in my mind on September 11th; academics and middle east experts claiming that they had warned the US and UK of the Al Queda threat and that there had been no reaction. Anti war protestors indulge in hindsight management all the time, i.e. ‘you should have done this, you shouldn’t have done that’ but if you’re making the decisions without that benefit, then sometimes, the decisions will carry a significant risk. Bush was damned when he did, and damned when he didn’t.

So I’m pro-war. Or am I? The flipside is the way it’s been done. The bulldozing of the UN Security Council sets a precedent. Firstly it takes the power out of the hands of “the world”, secondly, it will inevitably force many nations to line up behind the US on issues they may not agree with but feel they have to support for fear of reprisals (economic reprisals principally). Perhaps this is why Tone has lead the UK to align with the US. He has flaunted public opinion (both popular opinion, and the government elected to represent public opinion) and continued to back aggression. Maybe he knows something we don’t; maybe he doesn’t need covert US sanctions effecting what is already a shaky economy and has decided this is the way to avoid them.

By flaunting the proper procedures to gain support from the UN, the US becomes a unilateral aggressor. Taking me back to my point of we play by the rules most of the time, but we’re all in a position to decide the rules aren’t worth playing by. The US did just this, they decided the UN, and the principles upon which it is founded, no longer suited their needs. If I walked into a supermarket and walked out with a basket of food because I decided that the universal principle of allowing people access to food based only on their ability to pay was unjust, would I be able to get away with it? Of course not.

Now we’re actually underway, I hope they achieve all their objectives quickly, protecting oil reserves, and ousting Saddam. But if, once this is over, we find that all the things Bush and Blair have been saying proven to be wrong (weapons of mass destruction, huge human rights violations etc) then they must surely be accountable for their actions. If they are right, then they should be applauded for their conviction and decisive action. After all is that not the result of taking great risks?

Is there any chance of a mass demonstration for people who see both sides of the argument?

Friday, March 21, 2003

Be the drummer

My How To DJ Properly book talks about how to listen to records. Anyone who has been into a record shop recently will be familiar with the scenario of the spotty teenager armed with 150 records, all of which he listens to, all of which he buys, just to have an armful of banging tunes. In truth 99% of those records are likely to be awful.

The book suggests when you listen to a record you should imagine the people playing the music, listening to each instrument. This actually works, the music becomes more defined and layered and you get a much better sense of what works and has lasting appeal.

Obviously you sometimes just want to let it wash over you, but recently I’ve been driving quite a lot and trying to work out why certain records work and some don’t (resulting from the fact, I realise I don’t really like The Clash very much).

This has evolved into a game I’ve devised called ‘Be the drummer’. To play, you have to imagine the album you are listening to is being recorded in the studio. You are the drummer and having laid down your patterns you are sitting nonchalantly at the mixing desk as the lead vocals are being recorded. Listen to the vocals and imagine the lead singer in his booth getting down and doing his thing. Remember, you’re the drummer listening to his singing, you simply have to react to as you see fit.

Try it, especially with Hatful of Hollow by the Smiths. Morrissey’s bizarre falsettos, slurs and lah lah lah’s, make you just jump around doing double takes, raising your eyebrows and screaming “WHAT THE FUCK DID HE DO THAT FOR?”

It changes the whole listening experience, and is great in rush hour traffic.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Keep it simple

Last week I had to go to a black tie do at the Savoy Hotel. This sounds rather grand, and I suppose it was, but I’d have much preferred to watch Liverpool versus Celtic on the telly. It was work related, so I was working, I drank 1 glass of water, 1 glass of lemonade, and watched my P’s and Q’s all night. It was unpleasantly boy-ish with plenty of toilet humour and talk of “totty”. Dull.

The highlight was the food; Tuna steak, Beef thingamabob, and vanilla whatjumacallit. I’m no culinary expert, but I know what I like. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by good cooks. Emma’s cakes and desserts are fairly awesome, the Dobscrubs never fail to rustle up a fine meal, Penny’s Thai Curry on Saturday was delicious as was the Smarties Ice Cream straight from the bucket.

There’s very little food I don’t like. I love a quintessentially English curry, and am quite a Dhansak connoisseur (well defined fruity taste, lentils should add texture, the chillies should be a noticeable background noise on the pallet). I would never turn down a Chinese takeaway.

Tonight I am going out for dinner with work people to celebrate the impending retirement of one of the ladies here. Breaking with the traditional sandwiches and wine farewell on a Friday afternoon, she was asked where she wanted to go out to dinner. Would it be Chinese (or er, Cantonese), Malayan, or Thai fusion? The choice was hers.

“I want to go somewhere with plain food” she said.


I heart 1991

I'm feeling rather good at the moment, the sun is shining, George Bush is president of the USA, the Wonder Stuff and the Inspiral Carpets are on tour and we're at war with Iraq There was an American General on telly gee'ing up his troops by claiming the order to go was ¡°Hammer Time. Good lord, even Sonia's back on our screens ARRRGH!. Exactly like the year I did my A Levels.

I'm not feeling good because of the war; I have resigned myself to a fuck 'em mentality relieving some of the pressure of my recent Big Thoughts. Let them do what the hell they like, and let us enjoy the sun whilst it's out. I have been liberated from the social and cultural responsibility which goes hand in hand with being white and from the west, oh, and being British, oh and being middle class, oh and being someone who voted in the wide-eyed warring maniac.

Monday, March 17, 2003


There has been a running joke and a little concern that Sophie (my niece, star of my first ever post and as old, to the day, as this web site) cries every time she sees me. She is a naturally inquisitive and knows no fear, which means she busies herself until she is tired, then continues to busy herself until she’s overtired and cries in frustration. I rarely see her when there are less than 10 people in the house so there’s usually far too much for her to be inquisitive about, which means she gets even more tired than usual, and cries more than usual. It just so happens she usually cries when she’s sitting on my lap.

It is for this reason, and the simple reason that we don’t do it enough, yesterday Kirsty, Dudley and Sophie came over for a relaxing un-pressured Sunday away from the crowds of family and friends which overload Sophie’s brain.

And what a great day it was. The house was basked in sunshine all day and as long as you turned Sophie upside-down every couple of minutes she was happy to play, she smiled and laughed and shouted all day, crying only when she when she crawled into the door. She hasn’t yet learnt to look up whilst she’s going to wherever it is she’s going.

She crawled, played with things that rattled, read her book “That’s Not My Lion”, smashed the living daylights out of her toy telephone, and beached herself on a toy which made loads of different noises. Every time she kicked and struggled to free herself she set off another noise, PARP, WHISTLE, MIAOW, BRRRRING, WOOF she sounded like an eight month old Three Stooges fan. She fell asleep on the settee, flat on her back, star shaped, woke up shouted a bit, stuck her tongue out, ate yoghurt and sucked on a banana. Then she pooed her nappy, got changed, did it again, got changed again, put her coat on got into her chair and went home.

She’s welcome anytime.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Which odious nineties dullard do you support

George Michael recently gave his superstar backing to the stop the war campaign with a spectacularly ostentatious and tuneless performance on Top of the Pops of Don Mclean’s ‘The Grave’. Before he was finished I was forcing my way into Aylesbury Territorial Army base trying to hotwire a tank to drive to Iraq myself.

This morning, Mick Hucknall was on GMTV giving a pro-war stance (and talking about his brand new album “Dull Soul”). At which point I drove up to Strike Command on the edge of Wycombe and tied myself to the nose of a F16 Fighter plane chanting ‘Don’t attack, don’t attack Iraq”.

Why do celebrities do this? What added credibility for either argument really comes from celebrity endorsement? Perhaps if the UN Security Council’s impasse continues they’ll use album sales as a count back mechanism.

Germany: No
UK: Yes
USA: Yes
France: No
George Michael’s record sales: 25 million
Mick Hucknall’s record sales: 18 million

Pack your bags fellas there ain’t going to be no war on this watch.

Is the celebrity of these people strong enough to sway national opinion either way? Their musical influence is virtually nil nowadays, where does their political credibility come from?

Mick: “Well, when I was snorting cocaine off the breasts of Alicia Duvall whilst on tour in Australia, and I was looking at her naked on the bed and thought, man, it would be a tragedy if Saddam Hussain had Alicia in his bed, that cat’s gotta be stopped. Then we shagged all night.”

George: “I’ve seen the effect of authoritarian aggression, that policeman who caught me with my willy out was really really mean. Tee hee wasn’t I naughty, did I mention I’m gay, and I mean really really gay.”

This issue is complicated enough without these two dirtying both sides arguments.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

It only takes a second the change your mind

I am in a rather perplexing malaise at the moment. I’m having such very big thoughts, that the sniping at the minutiae of the world that has become the stock in trade for this site has become somewhat, well, fudged.

With war and economic crises knocking on the door, I’ve been contemplating my very own existence. Well, not existence so much as welfare.

Here’s the rub. September 11th and all that jazz told us but one thing. People don’t all think the same. Osama and his buddies are not cackling fiendishly at the evilness of their doings, as we are commonly led to believe. They fundamentally believe that what they’re doing is fighting for good. They are Good, and we are Evil. Whereas to them ‘We’ are Evil and they are Good. Some of us think we are flawed and they are flawed. Never the twain and all that.

Goodness is defined in terms of a series of generally accepted ideals. In the west, the one thing that rules our principals is that the accumulation of things is good. This has extended beyond the accumulation of objects, to the commodity of experience. That is, if you’ve had more, or ‘better’ experience than the person next to you. You win. Religion, new agedness, and vegetarianism are included in those virtuous ‘better’ experiences.

The commodification of experience is, in effect, the service industry. A box of popcorn at the cinema costs 6p to produce. That’s everything from the box to the food. To get it into your hand is 6p. Cinemas sell this stuff for upwards of £2.50. The product is 6p, the experience of eating it at the cinema, is £2.44. People eat it because it’s all part of the cinema ‘experience’.

So experience has been codified into accepted, valued practices. These have been given a monetary value that we trade and subsequently rely on. In the popcorn example, 98% of the value is experience. Extrapolated across the whole economy, 98% of what we do relies not on need, but accepted codified experiences.

We are free thinking beings, what happens when we change our minds? What happens, some bloke decides he doesn’t want the cinema popcorn experience, but wants to fly fuck-off big planes into the World Trade Center?

Our world, I call it our world, not because of separatist notions of them, and us but just because it’s easier that way, relies on us not changing our minds, examining our needs or re-evaluating our value of our experience. As we’ve seen, if we change our minds and our values, we are given a completely different world, requiring different skills to survive. Skills that have been taken out of us through thousands of years of domesticity. In the popcorn industry, 98% of popcorn sellers welfare, existence, comfort, warmth, and shelter relies on people believing the cinema popcorn experience to the value of £2.44 a box. If you decide the experience is valued at less than that, or indeed is worthless, the people who sell popcorn lose 98% of their livelihoods. That's all the Playstations, Ford Mondeos, Holidays in Malaga, and Organic food, gone. If you decide that flying planes into buildings as part of a jihad is the valued experience instead, that that is Good, the axis shifts violently.

The premise of valued experiences is so flimsy; I just can’t see us getting away with it for much longer. I for one will not be able to cope in a world focussed on need, on hunting and gathering or strength, stamina and survival. Or even a world which moves towards that. I cope very well in a world which values experience, something that drives western defined notions of intelligence and creativity. I don’t actually know whether what I do is right or wrong, I just do what I do and enough people believe me to value it. I’ve got to convince people for perhaps 35 years that this remains the case. The pressure is unbearable. It only takes one person to step back and realise that I’m contributing nothing to their need (eating, having shelter and warmth), just a bit to their experience of eating cinema popcorn.

The day people realise this, me, and millions of others like me, will be doomed.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Michael and Don

"Is Walt Disney really called Walter"
"I suppose so"
"So is Mickey really Michael Mouse?"
"Only in contract negotiations"
"And Donald Duck?"
"Known as Don down the golf club"

As is only right and proper, we went to Disney with dark cynicism in our hearts. Disney is, after all, one of the main pillars in America's consumer lead imperialism - an evil cell holed up on the edge of Paris eating away at thousands of years of European culture, conditioning people to the laws of Americana.

Someone at work told me that anyone who didn't enjoy Disney needed their head seeing to, she also told me she'd walked out on a Whitney Houston concert because it wasn't as good as Celine Dion. It strengthened my resolve.

But Disney was great, it was saccharine and idealistic, but that is what they do, they're just not trying to be anything else. The parades are all about how everyone should love each other and get on, we can mock, but it's a fine sentiment. People may say that its unreal, and typically American - the Rough Guide was scathing, snottily proclaiming it to be fine for kids and stupid people, but anyone with a brain, i.e. anyone who reads the Rough Guide and who has kept it real by spending their holidays in small jazz clubs, will hate it.

But going to Disney is what people do, it's as valid as walking in the Andes or Yack herding in Peru, or any of those more 'real' pursuits people do in an attempt to justify their proclaimed eclecticism.

Mickey is, of course, an obvious presence, but disappointingly Donald Duck appears to be ostracised in favour of Winnie the Poo and his friends. I was shocked to see Ee Aww doing the running man dance during a parade rather than concerning himself with blustery days, but generally Disney have retained the values of Poo - which is to be applauded.

What you don't get from the Disney films is how close together all the characters live to each other. Did you know that Pinocchio and Peter Pan are neighbours? If you watch the films, you never see Peter Pan in the background when Geppeto is carving the lying bastard little boy in the garden. You would expect him to appear at the window naked scratching his testicles and rubbing his eyes or something.

At the end of the day we walked back through Main Street USA trawling the parade of shops looking for something for Emma's sister. The range is bewildering, you could easily furnish your house with Disney stuff, wear Disney outfits, live a 24/7 Disney life. People were trying to do it, scooping up great hoards of merchandise, as with all merchandise you have to try and take what your buying out of its context and put it back into real life. A 24 piece Mickey dinner service may look great at Disney, but at home? Think about it.

We moved from one store to another trying to find something to suit Sara, Emma carefully examined things, pulled a face and put them back. In the final shop she stood ponderously, behind her were hundreds of Mini Mouses all piled up. There she stood, with this backdrop. She looked me in the eyes and said "I don't know it's just not DISNEY enough".

Friday, March 07, 2003

Talks about football, but not about football

My dad is, by his own admission, a democratic socialist. He doesn't look like Fidel Castro and took no part in the Poll Tax Riots, it's just an ideal that governs his ways, and although his ways have started to become set, it's served me rather well.

His belief of the inclusive rule of the people gave me a happy stable childhood which has set me up well for everything that has come at me since. That and being middle class, we middle class people are much better at being stable than the less well educated.

When I was three dad's idealism was tested to the fore. He is a lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers fan, having followed them since the 1950's when they were the mightiest force in all European football. Wolves have the best football kit in all the world - old gold shirts, black shorts, and old gold socks. It's a mighty motif, even though the club are now a shadow of their past.

Turning three dad took me to get my first football kit. He'd probably dreamt of this day since my mother announced I was "Y'know, not a girl, the other type". It was the only opportunity he'd get to bestow the religion of football into a son. This was the day his only son would wear the old gold and black of the greatest football team ever to walk the earth.

Or so he thought.

These were the days when football kits were thick cotton, and where Arsenal's red shirts with white sleeves was deemed a bit flash. Mostly kits were one colour, the shorts were a contrast, the socks, the same colour as the shirts. Football kits for men with impressive moustaches.

Dad's dream was to turn me into a Wanderer, yet it clashed with his ideal as a democratic socialist. If he was going to buy me a football kit, I would have to be allowed to choose which one it was. The ploy was simple. The shopkeeper pulled out an old gold shirt, and for comparison, a blue one.

"Which one do you want" asked dad pointing eagerly at the old gold shirt

"Blue" said I

Then came the shorts, black Wanderers shorts, or white ones?


And finally the socks, old gold or blue?


The plan had backfired, I chose the opposite to what I was supposed to choose and dad found himself father to an Ipswich Town fan. For a few years, spurred on by my kit, I followed Ipswich through one FA Cup and one UEFA Cup, and countless other glories. It wasn't that long before the Oxford bug got me, but that's another story.

In the interveneing years that kit remained the one and only complete football kit I ever had. I got new football shirts, even a cool Bayern Munich one, but I never had the complete set of shirt, shorts and socks.

For my 29th birthday Simon bought me an Oxford shirt emblazoned with Ruffles on the back. It was set to be another in a long line of football shirts. But when I started playing 5-a-side I realised I needed proper kit, I went and bought some shorts and socks from the Oxford club shop. As if by magic 27 years after my first football kit, I had my second.

A story I've depicted in this artwork I call "The tragedy of time".

Monday, March 03, 2003

Big Bad Bo Billy

I've done Glastonbury just once, y'see you don't 'go' to Glastonbury, you 'do' it. The year I did it was the year AWOL Take That dancer Fat Bob Williams appeared on stage doing the Running Man to Oasis' Cigarettes and Alcohol. Legendary in a Heat and Smash Hits kind of way.

Me, Chogggaz, Wiggaz, Melissa, and Glidder went. We saw thousands of bands; Tricky, Oasis, Orbital, Massive Attack, Charlatans, Elastica, Pulp and a Japanese band who had two bassists and started every song counting in with "On OOh Fee Four" before embarking on an ear-splitting sonic assault indistinguishable from any other song in their set.

One morning we made our way to the NME stage to see Shed 7 or someone, it was busy but we spotted a gap that was perfectly central to the stage. We made for it, edging our way through, the crowds cleared in our midst. Looking down we saw the reason for the apparent space. Crouching on the floor was a completely naked man having a poo in front of everyone. People didn't know whether to look and laugh, or hide and be sick. Thankfully he was just finishing when we got there, at which point he got up turned and looked me in the face said "Animals That Swim rock man" and disappeared off...

In narcotic parlance I believe he was buzzing off his tits.

I also experienced the joy of the rave at that Glastonbury, one night me and Wiggaz went for a tea, it was about 1am. We chatted and then made our way back to our camp. We turned right down the main thoroughfare into the novelty hats and veggie burgers village. The stalls had turned into sound systems and for as far as you could see there were thousands upon thousands of people dancing in the hazy light. There was something quite tribal about it. We went and had a little dance. It was ace.

Our camp was next to a group of girls who had their tent ransacked on the second day. They left a note on their tent, just in case the thieving rapscallions came back, asking for their stuff back because they were off to Cornwall and wouldn't be able to go if they didn't have their stuff. Oddly, they didn't get it back.

Our neighbourhood hadn't looked good when we first arrived, we didn't have much choice of where we went, and as we set up we heard a shout.

"I have no remorse, I'm the motherfucking murderer"

Sitting opposite was a northern beer boy, or more precisely, a northern brandy boy, he was swigging from a huge optic. He'd clearly drunk about half of it. He commentated throughout the entire construction of our tent.

"Look it was a some cloth and poles, now it's a home"

Sometimes it was funny, mostly it was threatening. It was a little unnerving for people who were quite overawed with the 100,000 plus festival site. As he bated us he told us that him and his mates had come from Bolton three weeks previously, parked up their van, and the perimeter fence had effectively been built around them. That's what he said, and who are we to argue?

"Big Bad Bo Billy, in the mother fucking house"

We hadn't spotted the half constructed two man tent with the pair of legs sticking out the end. Inside was Big Bad Bo Billy, it was difficult to tell how Big and Bad Bo Billy was, but his workman's boots suggested, fairly.

"I have no remorse I'm the motherfucking murderer" said the bloke swigging more brandy, he asked us where we were from, we said Oxford, he laughed. "Billy, they're from Orrrrkkkssfooorrrdd"

I thought we were in for trouble, and Big Bad Bo Billy hadn't even taken the stage.

It was, thankfully the hottest Glastonbury in an age, and that, plus the Brandy turned our friend a little groggy. Slowly he fell asleep on a half made camp bed. We had from rest bite. Then Big Bad Bo Billy began to stir. I expected him to emerge with a pickaxe or something. Slowly he unfolded himself from his tent, he was 48 feet tall. He stood up, stretched, adjusted his sunhat, said "'allo lads, sorry about 'im" he said nodding to his comatose friend. He then walked over. picked up a towel and gently placed it over his mate's head and arms to stop him burning.

Then he carefully undid his mate's trousers, pulled his willy out and walked off 'for a burger'. It was midday, it was 32 degrees, there wasn't a cloud in a sky and he didn't wake for another four and a half hours, by which point his willy had become a fried radish.

We had no problems with him for the rest of the weekend.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Family's different

The difference between my generation and that of my parents is the invention of the video camera. My dad can tell the story about the time he set fire to a farmer's field, but he has no proof. When Sophie and my little second cousin Harry ask about the antics of their parents, uncles, and aunties we'll just reach for the video tape.

Harry will be able to watch his dad, Jonathan, twice eating cat food, and his uncle, Jeremy, sticking his head in a garden pond or spitting a mouthful of ketchup all over a window. The stunts were done for the benefit of my dad's video camera. Jonathan was spoofing a cat food advert where the food was literally 'good enough to eat'. Jeremy was being a Blue Peter gardening expert, looking for fish. This was all part of the fun of going to see our cousins.

The same video also sees Jonathan demonstrating a recipe involving an old 7" record, a fish tank, lots of water and four bags of flour. He then pours it over himself. My sister Kirsty is seen wearing tights on her head whilst tied to a set of railings. Don't ask.

Yep, when Sophie and Harry come asking, they'll get it in spades.

Sadly though, the oddest day of them all was never recorded on video. It was Christmas, we were visiting Auntie Joanna and Uncle James as part of our Christmas family tour.

Upon arrival we were furnished with champagne, Uncle James’ default position is standing in the middle of his living room with a bottle of champagne tilted at 45 degrees. You say, can I have a drink, and he pours. For the first time my sister Annia's now fiancĂ© Chris had joined us, through a combination of paranoia and nerves, she got absolutely mullered on champagne. Chris was left to fend for himself whilst Annia lay prostrate on the couch groaning.

Auntie Joanna spent the day talking almost entirely in pidgin Italien. She had just retired and was about to buy an 'apartmento' in Italy. She also planned to rent rooms of their house out to foreign students. Jonathan and Jeremy weren't long left home, but as you know the church of your parents is a tough ministry. It was Christmas, Joanna handed out crackers. Inside were blow up toys... no no not what you're thinking, they were blow up balls and bats, tennis rackets, baseball bats etc.

The house has a long hallway, and when we were kids we'd either play football in the park opposite, or in the winter, in the hall. In the park we'd play first to 175 in an empty swimming pool. I vividly remember Jonathan, looking like a seven year old Leo Sayer, purple faced with his top off celebrating putting his team 168-165 in the lead. We were of course, too big to play in the hall now, except the blow up toys unleashed uncontrollable feelings (don't they always, fellas?). There was an impromptu game of football, four grown men; me, Jonathan, Jeremy and Dudley pushing and shoving and smashing ornaments like a bunch of eight year olds in a three foot wide hallway.

Joanna was insistent after lunch that we help her move a settee from the top floor three flights of stairs. We went upstairs to survey the work. When we got there Jonathan spotted that something wasn't right. It had been his room, and by the simple rules of displacement, his stuff had to have been put Somewhere Else. But where?

When asked, Joanna told him that they'd been thrown in the skip as part of a massive clearout. Everything had gone, teddy bears, clothes, games, books, shells collected off the beach, and two completed football Panini sticker books from the late 70's, valued of £1000 each. Gone, his childhood, gone, his heirlooms, gone. All of it in a landfill site somewhere in Hertfordshire.

Jonathan's soul was ripped right out of his throat where he stood. He was flabbergasted, devastated, and not to say a little hurt. It took Joanna a good hour to realise the extent of what she had done to him. Although she probably should have noticed him standing in the middle of the kitchen silently mouthing the word "Why?" to nobody in particular.

My dad helped, the same thing happened to him when he was a kid, he told Jonathan, that "If it's any consolation, you'll never get over it". He hasn't, we're advised not to talk about it.

All the while Jeremy had been quietly enjoying the spectacle. It wasn't that he wanted his brother hurt, but there's something satisfying in seeing it happen. He shouldn't have been quite so smug. In an attempt to get an explanation, Jonathan asked why his stuff, and not Jeremy's. Well, Joanna is nothing if not fair. She'd skipped all Jeremy's stuff too.

Jeremy couldn't believe it, by this time Joanna had become very very aware of what she'd done, she couldn't console them both at the same time. Every time she went to Jeremy, Jonathan would start mouthing "Why?" every time she went to Jonathan, Jeremy would ask about something else. All of which had gone in the skip.

"What about Sooty?"
"I threw Sooty out"
"But" he gaped with a Thousand Yard Stare "Sooty had a Sooty Passport"

Ever the pragmatist, Joanna realised even though she had placed black spots on her sons hearts, she still needed her settee moving. So we moved it, five men, three floors. Every turn we took a chunk out of the wall, we ripped wallpaper, we chipped the stairs. But we did it, eventually.

It was time to go home. We'd got drunk, had hangovers and recovered, we'd regressed back to our childhoods, then been wrenched into our present and faced with the transience and disposability of our lives. Another nice day with the family.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

You can't beat it

I've been busier than a German beaver after the Dambusters paid a visit, but in all the stresses and strains we've had the photos from New Year, and you can't beat people in wigs.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds