Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The one which starts as a chat and ends in a rant

It's clearly rock-u-mentary time on telly at the moment, with BBC, ITV and Channel 4 all screening big behind the scenes documentaries of three of the big pop music stories of the year.

First up was Madonna's 'I going to tell you a secret' all exquisitely shot in black and white real-o-vision. Aside from the introduction of the children Lourdes and Gastap, she rather neglected to tell any of her secrets. In fact it was basically a complete re-run of her previous backstage documentary; Truth or Dare, albeit with a Guy Ritchie cameo replacing Madonna deep throating a coke bottle. We pretty much learnt that she still hangs out with greased up gay teens and burlesque dancers, she still does a silly prayer before each show "Please let God protect our hairstyles whilst we fornicate and blaspheme on stage", and that's pretty much it. Although you can't deny she puts on a good show for an old bird.

The jury remains out on whether Take That can recreate the magic as a foursome without the charismatic one. It's a shame they feel the need to reform because they carry the grace of people who have been there, done that, and moved onto other things. Recreating teen pop magic seems all a little tragic. On the other hand, the one who won't be there, Williams, is a desperado when it comes to being loved by crowds of 30 somethings. In response to the question 'are you jealous of Gary Barlow' he responded with "14 Brits? Fuck off", because that's how he values his life it seems. Barlow's life nowadays revolves around his mansion, home studio where he still make diabolical MOR pop, his beautiful ex-dancer wife and his three year old daughter. Their former manager, Nigel Martin Smith nailed it when he said that Williams' obsession with discrediting Barlow after the split did Barlow a favour; it drove him off the popstar treadmill away from all the paranoia, obsession and isolation that fame provides.

Then there's the story of Live8; or, the story of how Richard Curtis, Bono and, of course, Bob Geldof slipped from a good cause into narcissism. Geldof's contradictions were writ large; whilst trying to convince people that Live8 had nothing to do with a rock show, he was also obsessional about avoiding being viewed as naff. Curtis and Bono, who have made careers out of naff-ness, had no such pretensions. They wanted to recreate Live Aid for their nebulous 'poverty' cause (poverty is bad, bad things are bad, bad things shouldn't happen, let's stop bad things), and slide into the history books whilst they were at it. To his credit Geldof's resistance was fierce; he wanted "something different" eventually caved-in when Bono painted his 'different' vision. 63 year old Paul McCartney on-stage with 45 year old Bono and U2 who released their first album in 1979, singing the 1968 hit Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band. Fuck yes, that's different.

Once Geldof was on board however, his obsessional induglencies took over. It was all wrapped up in a fiery exchange between Geldof and Harvey Goldsmith. Goldsmith was sitting with a list of bands that looked like one of those GQ greatest ever trad rock band lists. Geldof was insistent that The Killers had to be fitted in somewhere. They couldn't, it was a physical impossibility. They had to, said Geldof, The Killers are the coolest band on the planet (really?), Goldsmith said that something had to give, suggesting The Cure or UB40 could make way. Geldof obsessed that both bands we integral to the whole plot. I wouldn't like to underestimate the power of the cod reggae massive or the balding goth community in making poverty history, but surely Geldof had to get real. "we can create our own reality" he said. If you like, Bob.

So, how come the three biggest events in pop last year involved a 47 year old mother of two, a band reforming after 10 years and the most middle of the road social protest in history (backed by the prime minister for christsakes)? Music and television needs to constantly evolve. That means people with new ideas need to come in all the time. The problem is that the people who were the cutting edge in the mid eighties, early nineties are now 30 and 40-somethings with kids and mortgages. So no longer do you get programmes like the Tube and The Word, you get Location Location Location and House of Tiny Tearaways. Interesting to adults trying to bring up their kids and move up the property ladder. Dull as ditchwater to teenagers. There's no chance of another Acid House or Madchester because we're too busy re-inventing the last 10 years and presenting it to the Kids as something new. The drive to eradicate poverty is being done in a thoroughly sensible way, Pink Floyd and The Who and Madonna and Take That are the kings of pop and rock? How can I think differently if all I'm hearing and seeing is the same old stuff. I don't want to understand today's music, I want it to be noise, but it's all so lovely and palatable, how will we ever progress if everyone is so bloody nice about it.

And breathe.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ker-ha-boom shanka

I was the only person in the south of the country who didn’t hear the oil explosion at the Buncefield Depot. Emma remembers hearing what she thought was thunder. Otherwise, all was quiet in our house.

Although I do feel I’ve missed out, I’m pleased so many other people around me experienced the blast. Listening to their harrowing stories brings a chill to my bones. Their graphic accounts have given me the feeling of almost being there. They go a little something like this…

“I woke up and I thought a plane had crashed, I turned to [insert partners name here] and said ‘what’s that’ and they said ‘I dunno, what do you think it is’ and I said ‘I dunno’ and I got out of bed to see what I could see and I couldn’t see anything. So I went back to bed, but in the morning I saw [insert name/relative or neighbours name here] and they said did you hear that explosion last night, and they said ‘yeah, what was it?’ and I said ‘I dunno, what do you think it was’ and they said ‘I dunno’.”

This type of story goes on for a while before concluding with a few tasty facts plagarised from the BBC’s new coverage (they heard it in the Netherlands, the atmospheric conditions are making it a nightmare, they need 32,000 litres of water per minute to put it out). I don’t know, surely everyone knows the way to put out a oil fire is to place a damp tea towel over it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pride before a fall

The Thatchers, a summary: Denis, the father, self made multi-millionaire. Margaret, the mother, iconic global figurehead, an idealogue who left an indelible mark on British culture and world affairs.

Mark, the son, arrested for his part in planning a military coup. Carol, the daughter, winner of 2005 I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here reality TV show.

If I were their parents, know how proud I'd be.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

And finally, here is the news

Having put the test in her “urine flow” as the instructions so quaintly put it, we waited four minutes. I flicked through teletext whilst keeping an eye on the clock, rounding it up to the next minute to be certain.

We shook hands, turned the stick over and it was positive. Within the next hour both sets of parents, Emma’s sister and best friend were all on the phone asking about the holiday we’d just got back from. Emma bit her lip and kept a straight face. She spent the rest of the day reassuring herself that she was “having a baby” by imitating what it'll be like to stroke the cat when it sits on her tummy eight months from now. We order the Rough Guide to Pregnancy (and a copy of Bloc Party’s remix album for good luck); the Rough Guide served us well in Cuba and Vegas and Toronto and Boston and Florence and Dubrovnik and New York. It's rubbish, of course. We decided the next step was to get everything confirmed and checked out with the doctor. We also decided we need plans for money, the house and who we told and when. Then we got on with today's life.

That was the end of August, we'd just got back from Havana, we'd sat for nearly 36 hours in a terminal full of cigar smoke where the rain was coming in through the light fittings. Unbeknown to us, Emma was 5 weeks pregnant; it would have been safer if she'd injected MRSA bug in her eyeballs.

Telling people has been a long process; it's hard, we've waited for the conversation to come around, we've stopped other conversations mid-flow, we've tried being direct, we've tried being cryptic, we've even told people straight away to avoid "spoiling a perfectly good night out". We've tried telling people face to face, by email, by telephone. In groups, one to one. Over Thai food, Italian and good old fashioned English pub grub. We had to delay telling the people who we knew couldn't keep a secret until we'd told the people who could. Eventually we got everyone; not always how we wanted to, but we did it.

The technicalities; 20 weeks gone, due 22nd April, Sex: unknown (we both thought we'd spotted some boy-like elements on the scan, but it turns out it's the umbilical cord - like a bad joke, but true). We've had 2 scans and everything is going dandy. Emma's in excellent shape. She's developed a multi-dimensional sense of smell and sleeps a lot. But she hasn't been sick. There's already a wardrobe full of maternity wear from Isabella Oliver and La Redoute, not that any of it is needed at the moment. Her initial concerns that she'd lose her shape have been replaced with the realisation it offers a whole new set of shopping opportunities.

Me? Well, apparently I'm instantly more attractive to woman, my evident virility releases chemicals that make me a more appealing catch. Apparently, I'm more likely to spread my seed (done it once, can do it again, see?). The truth is more prosaic, we're hurrying along a few outstanding jobs, we're getting a bigger car, we've got a baby bank account. And then we wait; we wait for the baby to grow. I go to football, we've got tickets for Depeche Mode 2 weeks before the due date, we carry on doing what we're doing. To quote my dad; "You need to be ready because nothing can prepare you". And nothing can, so I won't be ready, I'll just be there waiting for it to leap on me. I can't wait.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home