Friday, November 24, 2017

the thirteenth

oh hello there

one of the most enduring, and indeed endearing, myths of modern British society is the existence of a 13th episode of the celebrated TV show Fawlty Towers. and let me make something clear at the start, look you see. absolutely no evidence exists which says that this is so. if you have come to this post via one of them Google things hoping to find it, no.

instead, then, this is a post looking at the myth. whilst it won't be an extensive, definitive or exhaustive look, it will i trust be of interest to fans of this show, or those who, like me, keep hearing all about this bizarrely legendary episode. or, indeed, episodes, as we shall see.

to start with, the "facts". only two series of Fawlty Towers were made, with each featuring six episodes. six priceless, wonderful episodes of comedy gold. the first series was broadcast for the first time in 1975, with the second and final being broadcast in 1979. an important thing to note is that the screening of the second was disjointed, with the final episode being shown several months after the first five. this was down to virtually every aspect of British life being affected by industrial action here, there and everywhere.

exactly where did the idea of a 13th episode existing come from? quite possibly the creators of the whole thing. when John Cleese and Connie Booth announced the second series it is reported that they said they'd written "several" scripts. perhaps this all started by the more literal members of the world taking "several" to mean "exactly seven". 

as we will get to, there are people out there who claim to have "seen" this thirteenth episode. so, then, surely we know what the plot or premise of it must be or must have been? yes. and no. different accounts speak of entirely different episodes. should all of these incidents of people seeing a "never screened" episode of Fawlty Towers be accurate, then as point of fact there is one half of an entire series sat unshown to us, the simple public.

the most popular three, with my comments, are -

The Robbers - as in a robbery takes place at the hotel, and the episode is all the comical farce which could surround it. plausible, but i am not certain that Mr Cleese and Ms Booth would have written an episode bearing similarity to an earlier one, in this instance that one with the confidence trickster.

The Blackout - a topical episode, where the entire thing happens mostly with just voices over a black screen. if this existed, it would have been a sharp and timely comment or "dig" on the power cuts (and cuts to everything else) that affected Britain in the late 70s due to rampant industrial action. all episodes were, however, written quite some time before such things became part of life.

The Demolition - which would be the episode to end it all, with the plot being that the hotel was demolished. not much room for comedy, you would think, and interestingly this only got mooted as the 13th episode around the time of the "real" hotel actually being demolished, i think in the late 90s or at some stage in the 2000s

what of those who "swear down" or in other ways with "no word of a lie" claim to have, honest, seen this 13th episode of Fawlty Towers, irrespective of which of the three? invariably it is always at the house of a friend, who had a friend that worked for the BBC and had smuggled a video cassette of it out. usually this is always a friend that cannot for some reason be reached, and no details of the miscreant BBC employee were ever obtained.

quite a flight of fancy, designed to make the storyteller sound cool and well in on a top level secret that much of the nation would like to be part of.

the stories told could be manipulations of time and memories. under no circumstances would i ever claim that i saw anything rare or out of the ordinary regarding Fawlty Towers. i do, however, have distinct memories of seeing John Cleese and Andrew Sachs perform in character outside of the show in the late 70s or early 80s. my memory is of them doing a very short, comedy snippet thing, playing golf near where some cars pass. i think it was shown on Grandstand, which would make sense as they did things like that - i think they had Mike Yarwood do an impression of Brian Clough at one stage.

however, i may well be mistaken. i've searched the internet and cannot find a single word written by anyone which suggests they saw the very same thing. 

so how do we know for sure that there really is not a 13th episode of Fawlty Towers? purely because we have not seen it. such a thing would be, due to the enduring and perpetually increasing popularity of the show, be worth a goldmine. had it existed, it would have been the crown jewel what John Cleese would have cashed in when his Ronnie Wood style divorce caused him all sorts of financial problems.

also, people have actively looked for it and not found it. there are accounts of people who trained and worked at the BBC purely so that they may access the vaults and find this episode. all that has come from that is long and fruitful careers, forever tainted with not finding what would surely be the veritable holy grail of British television.

beyond all of that, a cast and crew and audience would have been involved in making this 13th episode. and yet no confirmed or proven case has ever come up in regards of accounts of it. you can conspiracy theory this all you like, but there would be absolutely no value in the effort or cost involved in keeping all involved in a presumably buried 13th episode a secret.

the desire for a 13th episode to really exist is such that something of a cottage industry has stemmed from it. over the years some have dined out on the fact that they can tell the story of seeing it. someone took it as far, at one stage, to write a book on the subject, complete with what they claimed was the "legit and true, honest, no word of a lie" script for the episode.

as someone who is effectively a lifelong fan of the show i would like nothing more than most of this article to be wrong. it would be amazing, man, if one day all of a sudden the shroud of secrecy was dropped, and that the unscreened episode or indeed episodes of Fawlty Towers were shown. alas, this simply isn't going to happen as they simply seem not to exist.

one of the golden rules of entertainment - a law that is frequently ignored or broken - is to always leave your audience longing for more rather than having them bored. the twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers that are real and exist are the personification of this. with that in mind, it is of little or no surprise that many fans over the year have hoped, dreamed and fantasised over more existing.

well, there you go. hopefully this has been of interest to some, and sorry that it's conclusion about any episode existing being a disappointment!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

debated day of release

howdy pop pickers

so, another day of release adventure. to be sure. yes, look you see, this all did happen, as it were, on the actual day of release - i am just a trifle late on reporting on it, i suppose. which is kind of fitting, as it was somewhere north of 36 hours after purchase before i got to actually hear it.

what, or if it is right to say it as such which, record was the object of my attention to purchase on its day of release, via HMV? the new album off of Morrissey, entitled Low In High School. despite England, nor the wider UK, not having "high school" as such, but rather comprehensive or these new fangled "academy" things.

something, perhaps, of an unexpected new album off of Morrissey. why? well, from what i can remember he's had a bit of a health scare in recent times. also, of course, a bit of a battle with his previous record label, Harvest, who released his last album, World Peace Is None Of Your Business back in 2014. i say "battle"; from what i remember Morrissey took to wearing t-shirts and such telling the record label to f*** off. even by his confrontational standards that didn't quite bode well for him securing a new deal. but, Morrissey is Morrissey, there is an audience, someone will invest to sell his records.

if at this stage you are in a bit of a rush and just want to know whether or not the record is any good, the answer is yes, very. probably the best off of Morrissey since the much vaunted and heralded "comeback" album, the superb You Are The Quarry.

for those not in a rush, or just who for some reason quite like reading my musings on subjects such as this, let us have a look at some more about it then. or, at the least, the experience of buying and listening.  to start with here we go with the confusion of where one may find the record for purchase within the realm of HMV.

no, indeed yes, music seems to have become that little but more marginalised by HMV. whereas once you walked in an the new music releases confronted you straight away, now they are shoved in a corner, with the previous "trending", "hot" and "chart" sections all consolidated into one. the net effect of this confusion for me was to think perhaps i had got it wrong, that Morrissey put his new album out the friday before and it was now in the top ten. no, it's there, sort of in the middle, suspiciously wedged between Roy Orbison and ELO,  presumably because that was where HMV thought it best to place it. or assumed that it would be just fine there.

actually there was some debate as to whether HMV would stock this record. yes, in this day and age a record shop contemplated not stocking an album which had a market. why had they considered this? a concern that the cover, featuring a child holding a placard saying "axe the monarchy", whilst clutching an axe outside what would seem to be Buckingham Palace, "might cause offence".

echoes of the infamous Journal For Plague Lovers off of the Manic Street Preachers, then, where apparently there was a concern that some people might view the record cover as something that it was clearly not. in the case of the Manics it was sold in a slip case to cover the "offending" art; Morrissey as you can see is just sold as-is.

this is not the debated part i speak of in the title, though. no. more of a monetary, fiscal and committent one. let me not bore you with my plight or the sorry state of my life, but a reality is that december, which dawns soon, for me represents a need of expenditure on such things as birthdays and that whole Christmas business. my dedication to Morrissey would surely test all of this, and put a dent in it. but i did it anyway, hence the fact that this post exists.

when the tracklisting was announced it was declared, by such luminaries as those who dispense the benefits of their wisdom via that twitter business, to be "the most Morrissey set of song names ever". does it follow up on that, if we for the sake of a quiet life accept that to be the case, by being "the most Morrissey sounding record ever"? partially, yes.

the first two tracks, which i first heard when i first heard the album as late as the sunday afternoon coming after the friday day of release, are superb. My Love, I'd Do Anything For You and I Wish You Lonely are belting, full on glam rock sound loving Moz. the quality, of not the overt glam influenced sound as such, carry on all the way to and through Spent The Day In Bed, which was the first "single" off the record, or should i say song available for a digital download thing.

one review i saw suggested it's a case of "first half great, second half not so much". i am not entirely sure i agree. yes, the better songs are within the first half of this recording, but that does not mean what follows towards the end is bad. they are just not as immediately genius or as strikingly brilliant.

if i were pushed and requested to highlight the low point of the album then it probably would be When You Open Your Legs. just dull, really. but even then, i suspect that this might well have been the entire point of it.

quite a nice chat with the lady in HMV who accepted my coins of money in exchange for me being able to take ownership of the record. in this day and age of "streaming" and various less than legal downloads she asked if i had heard the record. i said no, bar the single / "digital download" what i bought earlier in the year. further, i explained that i had pretty much been purchasing any and all Morrissey releases, including his disastrous debut novel,  on autopilot since days before she was born. in turn she advised me that she was looking forward to hearing it (as with all stores at present HMV is a bastion to the sounds of Christmas music), and was off to see the man himself in concert with her dad next year.

a partially amusing thought here would be the notion of taking my dad to a Morrissey concert. other than it being wonderful to see my dad, i suspect the evening would be a lot of hearing "what the bloody hell is he on about", "why is it so loud" and "why is everyone just stood chanting his name". my mum, however, as i recall, considered Morrissey, as do many others, to be rather handsome, and would no doubt enjoy the experience.

beyond that, it is splendid to know that there is a generation - not just one that came after The Smiths but also realistically after the halcyon, celebrated (i would say right up to about 94, 95) early stages of his solo career that are "in" to Morrissey and excited to be seeing him still on the go.

will this record please the locked in, existing Morrissey audience? yes, i would think so. could this record win him any new fans? maybe, i am not sure where them kids of today get to hear "new" music. any chance of this record making a high chart position, as HMV seem to have already given it? unlikely. excellent if it makes it into the top ten, but right now the sales push seems to be for an assortment of younger pop stars with records out, as well as the inevitable Christmas theme releases or albums, looking at the Roy Orbison dubbed over an orchestra shenanigans, that immediately suggest they are ideal "this will do" Christmas gifts for the elders of assorted families.

having a new Morrissey album in the world is a most splendid thing. from my side i am not inclined to take it off the stereo, having listened to it somewhere north of half a dozen times in the last two or so days. which is a shame, as i suppose i should be listening to something for the next edition of my unusually popular random bowie series, but no matter.

unless at the last minute The Stone Roses take my advice (from the last 2 or 3 years) and release Christmas With The Stone Roses, just one more day of release ahead for me this year, then - U2 on the very first day of December. i am giving Noel Gallagher a miss, then. other than the first two songs to emerge from it not being all that inspiring, i note with interest that he has taken to telling fans to "f*** off and not buy it", so i won't.

it would be decidedly pleasant if for some reason all of this was of interest to someone somewhere out there reading this.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

an important message from ant or dec out of ant and dec

hello again

celebrity endorsements are, look you see, nothing new. each and every one of us, to be sure, needs to make some coins of money. this rather distorted way of life we have made for ourselves, whether our contribution to that is tacit or explicit, demands such. whilst some accuse artists and celebrities who do endorsements as "sell outs", i tend to be perfectly agreeable with this move. if someone felt they could use my endorsement to sell something then i would surely sign up, happily accepting the payment to promote whatever it is.

the nature of endorsements changes over the years. one can see this quite clearly when it comes to the promotion of cigarettes and other such tobacco or nicotine related products. whereas once the famous were called on to show of smoking as a very, very good thing, evidently now in this more informed and enlightened age they are utilised to show that it is in fact quite a bad thing.

it was quite a surprise to see either Ant or Dec out of Ant and Dec take the decision to appear in one of the latter examples of that paragraph above.

rather like a substantial number of the UK population i neither know nor care which one exactly is Ant and which one is Dec out of Ant and Dec, but i can recognize them on sight, so to speak. as far as i am aware it is not like they are apart all that often, except i think one is in a clinic, so it's not like you would need to know which is which. yes, you can in this respect think Jedward, but without the singing and rather hyperactive overtures.

as you can see quite clearly above, and perhaps a little clearer below, behind that oxygen mask, laid in what is ostensibly a hospital bed or similar in a medical facility, Ant or Dec out of Ant and Dec is showing one of the potential down sides to smoking. which is to say a painful illness, most likely followed by a demise or if you like death.

quite why Ant or Dec out of Ant and Dec would be so enthusiastic to promote the dangers of smoking on warning packs for cigarettes is something i do not know. but, on the whole, you would have to say that this is admirable and quite public spirited of them. assuming, of course, agreeing to do this hasn't seen them make too much money off of the NHS for agreeing to appear.

what or who is an Ant and Dec, my many non-UK based readers might be asking? apparently they are quite popular light entertainers. normally they can be found endorsing and advertising gambling things such as casinos, the money from which is presumably helping pay for 50% of Ant and Dec to be in a clinic to battle various addictions.

i do know that the career, or careers, of Ant and Dec started in controversy. they rose to fame in a late 80s TV show called Byker Grove. it was a show that was passed off as a "homage" to the infinitely superior The Kids Of Degrassi Street out of Canada,  but for fans was seen as little more of a rip off. some suggested that all they really did was just replace the cosmopolitan mix of Jewish, Italian and maybe French kids with a bunch of Geordies.

anyhow, they have had a far more successful dramatic and light entertainment career than what i have had, so please don't see any of this as a dig or slur on their good name and character. by doing what they do they entertain millions, no matter whatever the hell it is that they actually do.

curiously in this day and age i note a common trend across the pictures they use as warnings on cigarette packets. this is the unmistakable trend that each and every person who appears in such images is white, or should you prefer classical definitions Caucasian or  European.

i don't get how they get away with this. we live in an era when and where, rightly and wrongly in certain instances, each and every element of modern life stands open to the accusation of racism or some form of cultural appropriation. and yet no one seems interested in the fact that ll cigarette warnings show just white people suffering the commonly accepted bad side effects of smoking.

why is this, i wonder? do they think people would not take warnings seriously if they featured non-white people? is it more sinister, in that the powers that be only care of warning the white members of the human race that smoking is bad? or do they maybe think that it is only white people what smoke?

no matter. we are here to observe the celebrity endorsement what Ant or Dec out of Ant and Dec are doing to warn people about the dangers of smoking.

well, at the least i think it is Ant or Dec out of Ant and Dec. it certainly looks like one of them. if it isn't, well, sorry for wasting some of your time here.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

hola, por favor, ven a que me digan que me vaya a la mierda otra vez, gracias

hola querido lector

i confess culpability here. perhaps it is the case, look you see, that the little "think piece" i wrote on how the two (or so) hour war with Spain that loomed over Gibraltar would affect my quality haircare products that's upset them. no, i am not linking it, you can find it if interested.

who knew the Spanish could be so sensitive? so much for that matador, bullfighting spirit and sense of independence they are supposed to have.

yes, this is all to do with that bank who do not like me, save to use me as a conduit to waste their own time and resources. Santander, they are called. in a change from the above here is the link to the last episode with them, one that i vowed would be final. or so i thought.

yes, perhaps i should "opt out" via the link i have deleted. why, though, should i waste so much as a single kilobyte of data in doing that? not when the increasingly desperate texts such as these provide some mild interest.

going on my experiences, and here i would say it is worth clicking on the link in red above, any offer or requirement made in these messages is entirely irrelevant. from the 'Empire Building' approach of their HR staff to the decided lack of interest in the skills and abilities people as individuals have, they are simply not going to find the employees they want and clearly need with this harvesting approach.

my my, they are quite keen to let me know the contempt they hold me in. as i sat and wrote this an email followed the text message, just to make absolutely sure that they wanted me to know that they wished for me to come in and be ignored by them again.

maybe one day the penny shall drop for the Spanish; or otherwise whatever coins they use now. if that happens then i really rather suspect an advert will come out with this banking giant announcing that they are urgently looking for HR and recruitment staff - ideally people who understand that if you want to know what someone can do it is better to ask and see than it is to have them sit around a table and shout a very great deal.

no, i am not going to call or apply. they have farmed and harvested my details, to do what with i know not. but it certainly is not to get the right people for the job within the confines of their organization.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

random bowie - 1. outside

Howdy Pop Pickers

And so here we are again. Edition 11 of this series, look you see, which has proven to be more popular than I had imagined. Thank you one and all, to be sure, for taking an interest in my musings via the means of reading this.

In this edition, then, we return to 90's Bowie. The middle of the 90's to be exact, with the 1995 album 1. Outside. And a note on that here. Pedantic people will say that the album is supposed to be called 1. Outside. The even more pedantic people will say that the full title, as point of fact, is 1. Outside The Nathan Adler Diaries : a hyper cycle (lower case as per the spine of the CD). For ease of reading, let's just all accept that yes, that's the case, but from here on out in this article, or if you like blog post, it shall be known as Outside.

For fun, and as a kind of thank you to all of you who read these posts, there's a sort of "one of a kind" giveaway in this blog post. But we will get to that later on.

To start with (sort), then, as usual some fantastic facts on this record. Outside was the 19th studio album by David Bowie as per the commonly agreed method of counting and cataloguing them. It came out in 1995, two years after the double whammy of excellence that was The Buddha Of Suburbia and the better known Black Tie White Noise.  It marked a reunification, of sorts, with Brian Eno, with the two of them not being widely credited as working together since the "Berlin Trilogy" of the late 70s. At just slightly south of 75 minutes Outside is, by some distance, the longest David Bowie album to be released that was neither compilation nor a live recording.

Where to begin with this one? Sorry, this is quite likely to be all over the place. I am writing this a bit late into the month compared to others, so it's "on the fly". As is much of the album, I suppose.

It's what you could call a flawed album, where the many great parts do not add up to the superb whole those parts suggest. Far be it from me to be making this accusation - Bowie himself spoke of it as being "a bit too much" and expressed the notion that he should have released it as a double album, so as to give listeners a pause or break.

This was also an album Bowie was fond and steadfastly proud of. Brian Eno has spoken of how, somewhere around a year before Bowie passed away, the two of them chatting about the album. Both of them expressed regret that it appeared to have been "forgotten" about when people spoke of Bowie's illustrious catalogue. Well then, let this in some small way be a means of reminder.

When I first heard this record I didn't really like it. The opening was strange, the first two songs (Outside and The Heart's Filthy Lesson) were excellent,  then A Small Plot Of Land came along. It was monotonous, tinny "jazz odyssey" stuff and gave one a headache. And then you got the excellence of Hallo Spaceboy, only for it to be followed by more tinny "jazz odyssey" in the form of The Motel.

And then I read an interview with Neil Tennant out of the Pet Shop Boys. It was in NME. Two things stuck with me. One was an unsolicited spoiler he gave for the film The Crying Game, although in fairness the film had been out for some 2 - 3 years by then. The second was a comment on Outside.

By this stage the album Outside had been met with some criticism, or "meh" responses. In the interview Neil championed it. He declared it to be "the perfect album for headphones whilst jobbing". Now, then, I thought, or thought I. Whilst jogging has not ever really been a thing of mine, headphones have been. I made a tape of it, listened to it on my walkman and found it to be much, much better as a listening experience than on the stereo.

The above is of relevance to the giveaway promised to be part of this post. Stay tuned!

So anyway, the album. A concept album it is, or "hyper cycle", as David would have wished for it to reference. The premise is that society (not necessarily of the future, "it's happening now, not tomorrow" is a key lyric) has come to accept murder as socially acceptable in some cases. Should the nature of a murder be "artistic" in the eyes of a judging panel then the murderer would be celebrated and praised rather than sentenced and condemned. Ostensibly Outside tells a story of such an incident, as investigated by Nathan Adler.

What inspired this narrative? Bowie never said directly or overtly, but for those of us there at the time the influences are fairly obvious. Outside came in the way of things like the OJ Simpson murder trial - and indeed the trial of the Menendez brothers. Both became media circuses, making a mockery of the judicial system to varying degrees. Also, art was changing. Tarantino had changed things. He did this directly with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, indirectly with the scripts for True Romance and, of most relevance, Natural Born Killers. After a short period - say 1990 to 1992 - of Hollywood shying away from making violent movies, they were back in a way not seen before.

Of those influences Natural Born Killers is perhaps the most relevant. Certainly it is in terms of the audacious and brilliant soundtrack, curated and created by Trent Reznor. Musically, when not being all "jazz odyssey", the biggest influence on the sound of Outside is clearly Nine inch Nails, with many of the songs (chapters?) echoing the sinister, threatening, aggressive mechanical scope of The Downward Spiral.

No surprise, then, that Trent Reznor was called upon to deliver a remix - labelled the "alt remix" - of The Heart's Filthy Lesson for the first single. And yes, indeed, this was the song that was used for the end credits of Se7en, a film we are perhaps no longer allowed to watch due to certain allegations against one of the actors in it. But if we are, you will note that the opening credit music was Trent, with Closer by Nine Inch Nails being used. 

One of my favourite moments on Outside is Hallo Spaceboy. Which is interesting, as one of the least favourite things to do with the record is the Pet Shop Boys single release. The original on the album is an overwhelming blast of raw, audacious and aggressive sound, touching on drum and bass greatness. By contrast the single is an underwhelming, subdued affair with the song turned into a rather soft, banal Pet Shop Boys b-side. 

I suspect, however, that the remix was done with reason. This is all my own theory, so blame me if not so. My guess is that we were all supposed to understand Hallo Spaceboy as being "the third Major Tom song", following Space Oddity and Ashes To Ashes. That would explain the mashed up lyrics from Space Oddity appearing. Also, all of the song seems to reference earlier Bowie songs. The line "do you like girls or boys? it's confusing these days" echoes Rebel Rebel, and I have every confidence you can by yourself tie the "moon dust" references to another celebrated Bowie outing. 

The above I took in HMV, I suspect when I went to go and buy Liam Gallagher's debut solo album on the day after the day of release. If you can get the CD at that price new, then go for it. The penny south of £4 for it is all the more worth it when you learn that the cover is in fact a self portrait work of art by David.

Getting the album? OK. Let's take a break - and I promise I will discuss some more of the music as we go - and have a look at this "giveaway" I am offering. No idea if it is special or worthwhile or if anyone will take me up on it, but here goes.

Remember the part earlier on (as opposed to one you have not read) about how headphones seem to make Outside all the more better a listening experience? Well, as you can see in the picture above, I elected to honour that. Yes, I made a tape of the record to listen to again before writing this. Sure, it might have been easier to stick it on an iPod, but the tape is done now.

If for some reason you would like this tape, you are welcome to it. Please note it is strictly first come first served - I can't go making copies of this to give away.

Some rules? Sure. As postage for such would be south of £5 for me, what the heck, this is open to the entire planet. Please do not - and I mean this - leave any contact details on the comments section of this post. Rather just leave a comment saying "I am interested" (unless someone else has) and we can connect to get details via Google+. Alternatively, I suppose, you could get in touch with me via either of my verk websites, The Taper and Best Write. Great also, by the way, if you use my verk services - that's how I make my living, and that's how I am able to keep doing this, making it all free and clear of adverts appearing.

Yes, that is an excerpt from Outside off of the album Outside, playing on the tape which could be yours if for some reason you want it. No, absolutely not, the stereo is not included. You will have to sort out your own cassette deck to play the tape.

Right, hopefully will hear from at least someone and back to the album. And a return to the origins of it. Which are, frankly, a mixture of confusion and what can only be described as bullsh!t.

To start with the latter, the recording process. For some reason Bowie made a lot of noise about how this was all "done in the studio" with "no plans or preconceived ideas" brought in. This claim is utter nonsense. For a start the last song, Strangers When We Meet, is a re-recording of the song from 1993's The Buddha Of Suburbia.

Also, the whole concept and idea seems to stem from one of Bowie's more Spinal Tap moments. When Q magazine, back when it was good, asked Bowie to keep a diary for them, he decided his life was "too boring". Instead, then, he created a diary of someone called Nathan Adler. Whilst it has been some time since I read it, from what I recall yes, most of that diary ended up being the linear notes to this record, as well as making "a substantial" appearance in the lyrics.

Why is this Spinal Tap? If you can find the magnificent book Inside Spinal Tap. This contains a "diary" from Nigel Tufnel. He was also asked to write a diary for a magazine. When confused about what that should be, they showed him a sample of someone else, who had been skiing. Nigel misunderstood the example somewhat and so fabricated a story of him skiing for the magazine, instead of the hoped for diary.

The fact that Bowie also intended to do one of these albums a year for the next five years shows that some planning was involved. But, for reasons best known by Bowie alone (maybe it just amused him) he wished the world to think that Outside was the product of him and his musicians "slumming it" in a recording studio in Switzerland, with it all created by role playing scenarios.

One of the most exciting aspects of Outside was the "db" logo what David came up with for the single and album artwork. It's a great shame that it was not used any more after the Telling Lies single which preceded Earthling, an album I am trying to build up the courage to cover here one day. The logo is unmistakably priapic in nature, as if David was just saying "cock" to anyone at all who noticed it or thoroughly deserved to be told such.

An expressed intention of Bowie was that Outside, and the following four albums, would address and explore "pre-millennium tension". Perhaps this is why no further volumes ever came out. David was quite ahead in this respect, you see, as in 1995 virtually no one was aware of "pre-millennium tension". The year 2000 still seemed so very far away.

In retrospect 1995 was a peculiar, halcyon time. The Cold War was gone, with Russia neutered under the rule of comic figure Boris Yeltsin. After the early 90s Gulf War the Middle East appeared to have been "put in place" and posed no threat. China was really, really good at making shiny things cheap and selling them cheaper. Our friends in the USA felt so relaxed that they elected musician and prolific sexualist Bill Clinton to be President, rather than a politician. South Africa had Nelson Mandela as President and seemed at peace as a "rainbow nation". Here in the UK, we were all counting down to the next election, where it seemed a formality that bright young thing Tony Blair would become our leader and deliver wonderful days.Computers were not a standard in homes, either. They were not relied on for work. So there was no fear at all over something called a "Y2K bug" when Outside came along.

Thus, so it came to pass that David Bowie presented a, on the whole, collection of good to great songs to an audience which, in a sense, simply did not exist. Except maybe pop star jogging enthusiasts.

How does the album hold up today? Very well. But perhaps not as intended. I mean, I still have absolutely no idea what the story is behind this "concept album", let alone what the conclusion is. For telling a story, Tommy it most decidedly is not. The songs are, however, excellent.

An outstanding display of Bowie's vocals are here to be had. Oddly this is not so much the case on the two well known singles. Although the delivery of the line "daddy will you carry me, i think i've lost my way" on Heart's Filthy Lesson is a distinct high. No, instead discover his singing on songs such as Thru These Architect's Eyes, No Control, I Have Not Been To Oxford Town and the re-recording of Strangers When We Meet. There is the voice we all fell in love with. Or, if you like, there is the voice that I fell in love with.

Touring Outside looks like it was excellent. Alas, no, I did not get to see it. I should say now that this tour is very well documented. No official recordings have been released, although there are "quasi unofficial blind eye turned" bootleg CDs available on the web. Ultimately, You Tube is your friend - most if not all feature there.

A highlight of the Outside tour for many was the joint Bowie & Nine Inch Nails concerts. Nine Inch Nails were ostensibly the support band, but concerts featured Bowie singing some NIN songs, and indeed NIN providing the music for some Bowie songs.

The tour seems to have carried on all the way to just about the time David was ready to release Earthling. Some of the later shows featured songs that would be, or were intended for, that album. On this superb TV broadcast you should be able to hear I'm Telling Lies performed, ultimately released as simply Telling Lies. Bowie also performed the Tin Machine song Baby Universal on the later dates, as there was an intention to re-record it for Earthling. This was never released, and thus far no copy of the re-recorded song has surfaced. Reeves, if you are reading, share it, man.

So, is Outside a David Bowie album worth getting by you, the person who does not presently own it but are reading up and considering? Yes, I suppose, if you are the first to get in touch for the tape copy on offer. Also yes if you can find it at the price HMV were selling it for, or less. The whole album in its entirety is, as Bowie said, "rather too much" to listen to at once. There are far more good songs than average or poor on it; it's just that if you listen to it in one go the weaker songs feel like they drag on, dominating and distracting.

A curiosity, really. The sum is somehow less than the parts in isolation would suggest. It feels far too harsh to say it was a "failed experiment", then, although the lack of any further such "hyper cycles" suggest that Bowie saw it as such or simply got bored. To my mind "flawed experiment" feels about right.

Well, there you go. Episode 11 all done, and it has just dawned on me that I have referenced Bowie's Spinal Tap inclination on an album for this number that puts it into perspective, perhaps too much perspective. At the least, Bowie avoided going full tilt Spinal Tap by ditching plans for a "concept show" to tour the record with. What the world did not need was Glass Spider 2.

I have absolutely no idea what Episode 12 of this shall feature. Let me look at the collection and see what strikes me as one to listen to again and consider. Until then, then.......

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

starring Val Kilmer


for reasons i am not prepared to go into, look you see, i happened to be on the American version of that there 'Amazon' website. yes, i suppose you could also refer to that as either the original or main web presence, for as far as i am aware that is where it all began. if not commenced.

so, anyway, right, as i was doing this i happened to look at the USA Blu Ray "steelbook" edition of the ever popular documentary Top Gun. i noted with some interest their description of this product and i liked what i saw.

yes, quite. whilst purists might argue that this documentary was most ostensibly known for bringing Tom Cruise to an increased level of prominence, for Amazon it would seem it was all about the Val. and why not, for his dramatic recreation of important historical figure Iceman was most splendid.

being a product description writer must be amazing, man. if i had that kind of gig i would probably also push through my own agenda on certain cultural items. for a start i suppose i would go along to edit them Star Wars films, identifying which ones do and which ones do not feature Lobot. due to an alarming lack of vision from the people what make them films, sadly "does not contain Lobot" will feature more than him being in it.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

i need a dragon slayer who can save me from myself


a little while ago i, in an entirely unsolicited way, shared my genius, or perhaps ingenious means and way of quitting or cutting down considerably on all things cigarettes. that clever idea can be found, if you are so interested, by clicking here, look you see. or striking there, i suppose, to be sure.

something has dawned or otherwise occurred to me in the interim, which is to say i thought of it since. no, i don't like writing like that. it's a bit wanky, really. like those pompous people who use some latin phrase to describe something - normally a legal term - and then follow it with "which is to say" and give the (proper) (and easy to understand) english translation. why not just say it in english at the start, then?

anyway, the thoughts. what i did not consider was that my no longer buying cigarette lighters would be a disruptor to the economy. and, in this instance, a negative disruptor.

yes, indeed, the short version as pictured above - if one can call it short after such a lengthy and distracting introduction - is that i elected to reverse the decision and buy four rather splendid cigarette lighters off of Poundland. yes, all 4 cost £1. which is a bargain, as back in the 80s before there was Poundland there were independent traders who stood around in the town shouting "lighters three for a pound", so you get more value now.

the disruption, then. or if you like the justification and vindication for this decision, or reversal, what i made. it dawned on me that not buying cigarette lighters was detrimental to "the economy" in a three pronged way, should that be the correct way of saying it. as in, i was doing terrible if not great harm to the economic model locally, nationally and indeed internationally or globally, depending on which of those terms for worldwide you prefer.

closer to home and not buying lighters for £1 off of Poundland would mean a fall in profits for them. this could lead to a harsh business decision, where they sack someone and install another self serve terminal. as you hardly need me to tell you, that would be one more unemployed person for the national economy to absorb and support.

internationally, well, dangerous times. a lack of demand for packs of four brightly coloured cigarette lighters would lead to a fall in production. for all i know this could have been the straw that broke the back of a camel which for some reason the country wherever these are made use to illustrate their economy. it might be that, in order to make up for the shortfall in exports, the country what makes them goes to war or invades a neighbouring sovereign state to address the balance.

all of that might, if you are in any way cynical or doubting in nature, seem like an elaborate and far too overthought excuse. you might assume that the reality, hinted at by the title of this post, is that i am a hopeless, pathetic addict that simply cannot successfully quit or cut down considerably on cigarettes.

well, yes. there is no way i can argue too hard against such. one has to have the psychological reserves and sheer willpower to do it, i suppose. in this area i have been found to be decidedly lacking and somewhat wanting. but, for now, let us look at how pretty the lighters are.

them there above are my two favourites, then. i would think the first is obvious, for it looks like a most dapper magic bus; the likes of which The Who celebrated on their song Magic Bus. the other one was the deal clincher, though, as it has a toucan on it.

as regular readers of this blog will be aware, the toucan is my most favourite bird, right after the kookaburra, the flamingo, the pelican, the hawk, the swallow, the kestrel, the eagle and that other one what i have forgotten the proper name of. it is a delight to at last celebrate the toucan in such a way.

so, anyway, let me press onwards with whatever it is that i am supposed to be doing in this world. by a certain interpretation of some aspects of this post, that could well be seen as in some small way trying to save the economy.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 13, 2017

music of the Spiros


just recently i had reason to, look you see, go through one of several boxes i have in storage. this was a most specific box, for it had housed within it a recording on a compact disc that i wished to hear. it was during obtaining this specific disc that i, to be sure, unearthed some briefly forgotten musical gems.

the "gem" part of this comes, perhaps, in the form of their source or if you like provenance. it was that i had obtained these joyful discs of my own choosing. no. instead these just so happen to be gifts off of the Spiros. given, presumably, so that i may too listen to the music what he did, or does.

whilst the generosity of Spiros extends to a far higher number i felt it best, for the sake of simplicity, to limit this blog post to just four of the discs what Spiros has given me over the years. to cover them all would see us here for quite some time. besides, i am not sure there is much to say in respect of what is on display here, never mind them all.

no, then. well, yes. let us look at these four in somewhat more detail, so far as i can. which is really rather tricky when it comes to the first one.

indeed yes, quite, that is Racey, arguably the biggest band ever to be off of Weston Super Mare. for many, many years, or perhaps just fleetingly, Spiros was well into the Weston Super Mare scene, man. i think he bought this at the height of his digging the scene.

this is the quite controversial mid-90s "second" album by Racey, Lay Your Love On Me. i say controversial for, as all fans of the band will know, it is more of a "compilation" of recordings made between 1978 and the year of release. a follow up to their 1979 album Smash And Grab, then, with the peculiar case of some of the follow up being recorded first.

no, absolutely no idea what it is like. i have not played this CD and have never found any good reason to do so. consideration was given to playing it prior to writing this but then i thought no. if you happen to be a really big, or just in passing, fan of Racey well then that's just great to hear.

possibly the single most controversial of the discs Spiros has given me, this. although he claims it was "not him but someone else" what gave it to me. modesty and unassuming at the forefront, there, then. no matter, i can confirm that yes, this is a CD-R of Flying Away by Michael Saltino. not just any CD-R, though. history somewhat clouds matters from time to time, but either this was taken directly from the studio where Michael Saltino recorded this, his opus, or otherwise it was handed to someone what Spiros knows who was given it by a radio station.

i dare say that i need not give any of you further information about Michael Saltino, for he is widely known. several people have suggested that he is the greatest and most important singer ever to come from South Africa. others have challenged that, saying he is in fact that of the entire southern hemisphere. i'm not sure, but to say more would be overtly critical.

should for some reason you not have ever heard Flying Away, here you go, here's the You Tube link to it. many of you will be aware of the controversy surrounding Michael Saltino and would like to learn more. here is a link to the documentary around it. who knows, perhaps this CD i have is one of the ones mentioned in the early stages of that documentary.

oh yes, this one. at one stage - it might have been when we were at University - Spiros got it into his head that he would really like to be one of them "West Coast Gangsta" types, involved with drive by shootings and such things. the result of this was a rather rash purchase of several albums by musicians what promoted this lifestyle. Chunk, or if you like Mr Chunk, was very much at the forefront of this. Menace To The Game, which for marketing should maybe have been called Menace 2 Da Game instead, was the personification of what put Chunk miles ahead of everyone else. 

an particular controversy surrounding this edition of Menace To The Game - outside of the latent and somewhat explicit at times misogyny - comes with track six. no one is certain what it is actually supposed to be called. on the album artwork it is named Black Man Homcide, yet on the CD face itself, as you can see in the picture, it is labelled Black Man Homocide. when we have discussed it Spiros reckons the latter, as in the name on the disc itself, is most likely correct, as he always felt the album had a decidedly homoerotic nature to it. that would certainly explain, whist most decidedly and absolutely not excuse, the apparent dislike for ladies Mr Chunk expresses on tunes such as Dirty Hoes Don't Get Chose and Treat Em Like They Act.

no, i don't believe i have ever played this CD either. perhaps i will, as a quick glance around the internet suggests it attracts some good reviews. an even better idea might be to sell it, though, as it seems copies of this CD fetch a handsome price these days. 

would it be fair to call Chunk, indeed Mr Chunk, the "Michael Saltino of the West Coast Gangsta" scene? it would be better to ask someone who has heard both artists. sadly, at this stage, that would be someone else not me.

finally, then, the album that proved highly influential to Spiros. this is the celebrated Misfits compilation, featuring an eclectic if not cosmopolitan range of artists. pictured here is one of the artists to feature, Vic Lambrusco.

it so happened to be that Spiros was quite enamoured by the words of Vic Lambrusco. on his two tracks of Misfits Mr Lambrusco speaks fondly of starting fights with people, with the refrain "oooo wants some" being of particular appeal. the life of lager and fighting which Vic speaks so solemnly of is, i have every reason to suspect, one of the major reasons why Spiros elected to base himself in London.

what's the rest of Misfits like? not bad really. some entertaining stuff on it and some quite good songs too. i think there is one that goes on about a trifle, which was smart. the book it comes with is lovely too, and i am not just saying that on account of the partial nudies what feature. well maybe i am.

anyway, hopefully that has been of interest to someone somewhere. let me leave it there, then. but it is possible that i might go and have a listen to this Mr Chunk, see (or rather hear) what is ideas are all about.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

a different approach to rememberance


one of the most interesting and exciting things to happen at home whilst i was away from home, look you see, was the launch of many new television stations. the most unexpected and informative of these, to be sure, is one you may be familiar. i believe it is called Babestation, with the focus of the show being on the marvels of modern telecommunications.

this fascinating channel seems to be quite a lot like the BBC, as in it does not show commercials. one could, i suppose, argue that it is in essence the "anti-BBC", with some speculating that what it does show is, as point of fact, 100% commercials. to say such would, i suspect, serve only to devalue the documentary information they present.

let it not be said that this Babestation documentary channel is not aware of what is going on in the world. although (ahem) it is quite rare for me to look at what they are showing - as a know it all i seldom have need for documentaries - i noted something of a different appearance in the presenters of the telecommunications documentaries they show.

yes. you are quite correct, that is indeed a poppy being worn by one of the presenters. apologies on offer come from me as i failed to catch what exactly the particular documentary was on, so distracted was i by how splendid it was to see a poppy on display.

as you hardly need me to say, this will have been worn ahead of, or due to, Remembrance Sunday. should you be unaware of the significance of this day, the definition from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport of our popular government is as follows - to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. it is held on the Sunday nearest to 11 November each year, for this is the historical date of Armistice Day.

controversy has come about of late in respect of wearing a poppy to commemorate the day. there are some who voice an opinion that wearing a poppy is in some way advocating war, or being "pro" armed conflict". i would like to consider myself anti-war, but have to disagree with this view.

to me the poppy is a way to pay respect to those who have served our great country and fallen in doing so. it also, for me, represents respect for those who have sacrificed all they have for that ideal we all wish to keep - freedom. the soldiers did not ask for the wars they fought it. 

the above does show how quite remarkable the documentaries on this Babestation channel can really be. as you can see, in this particular documentary the host, whose name i failed to catch, is teaching the audience about tea drinking, telecommunications operative concerns and the reasons why one would wear a poppy during the early stages of November. wonderful stuff.

a word of caution, dear reader. it is quite likely, as enthusiastic for education as you are, that you may wish to tune in to this Babestation channel so that you may learn from the documentaries. later on in the evening it seems the dress code goes from "smart casual" to "optional". several of the presenters, and this i assume is to symbolise the spirit of freedom, disrobe all together as they present factual information. such a spectacle may not be suitable for all.

yes, another look at that most splendid poppy on display for you.

anyway, i suppose there really is not a great deal more i could add to this post. let me leave it there, then, so that you may contemplate it all. or, you know, simply move on to another aspect of this wonderful "internet" thing.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

reflections on that time i got a little carried away watching chuck norris fight a bear


in certain circles the concept of confession is spoken of as a good thing. for many it is, look you see, a healing form of catharsis. admissions of things that play on your mind in a real, vocal sense can clear the doubt, indeed guilt, from your mind.

whilst i am not certain that i subscribe to this i all the same, to be sure, feel that it is worth a go. of particular benefit is that no constraint in terms of time limitation is spoken in such circles, so it is no bad thing that this all relates to something that happened some 18 months ago. a year and a half or more, then.

this all happened, as mentioned, some 18 or so months ago. it was around about that point of a year when Spring feels sufficiently strong enough to truly break free from the constraints imposed by Winter; what with the chains of cold snapping with warmth.

for some reason, and i fail to recall just what this might be, i, or rather we for this happened in the welcome companionship of my (considerably) better half, was/were watching an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. this is somewhat unusual for me. whilst i, like most of the civilised world, profess an admiration for the many great things what Chuck Norris has done (it is all written on the internet so it must be true), i was never much of a fan of this show.

anyway, no matter, that i was watching an episode is of relevance and the reason for doing so is not. it was to be, or simply was, the case that in this particular episode, Ranger Walker (as portrayed by Chuck Norris) was in a situation in which he found himself getting attacked. this is nothing unusual as such, as fans of the show will know much of the plot of any given episode of Walker, Texas Ranger invariably hinges on some form of attack. what made this interesting, though, was that he was getting attacked off of an absolutely massive bear rather than some sort of criminal degenerate.

it is fitting that i cannot recall the plot as such, for i simply lost the plot. yes, i suspect the confession aspect of this shall commence now. but first, some guidance. if there is a massive gap between these words and the previous paragraph then you are missing some smart video i added. sorry, your browser and/or device is not compatible.

when the bear unleashed a ferocious attack on Ranger Chuck i took leave of my senses. for inexplicable reasons i got carried away, and started screaming in a quite giddy way at the television.

kill it, i wailed in my disgrace. kick it, knowing how Chuck is smart at all that kung fu kicking stuff and what have you, kick it's f*****g head in. these specific and such other words, i admit, flowed rather too freely from my mouth as i watched this battle. 

my (considerably) better half? she looked at me horrified, displaying concern, contempt, dismay and some slight disgust in her eyes as she gazed upon me being so excited by all of this. it would be fair, indeed true, to say that at most times i don't have all that a good standing in her eyes, but at this moment i fear it fell to the lowest such level.

it is quite likely that as i got all carried away she expressed concern, asking what the matter was with me and being puzzled as to what had gotten in to me. i cannot recall such. my exuberance blinded me to all other concerns, leaving me deaf to any possible expressions of care or words of caution to setlle down a little bit. all i know is that i was besotted with the idea of watching Chuck Norris kick in the head of this bear.

a retrospective consideration of all this renders my ambitions and aspirations as foolish. of the many things what Chuck Norris is known for a love, appreciation and admiration for nature and wildlife is very much at the forefront. he would not willingly harm an animal and would further go out of his way to ensure such did not happen by chance or accident.

this of course serves to make me all the more retrospectively horrified as to just how badly i lost all sense of control and went totally overboard. perhaps confessing this matter here shall be taken as the first step to some form of redemption. 

no, then. Chuck did not harm the bar as such. much of it in my guilt is blocked out, but from what i can recall - and as observed in these pictures and videos - Ranger Walker simply chased the bear away with an eco-friendly combination of fire and a rifle.

the confession does not cease there, dear reader. no. in a full and frank confession i will admit to, and do remember this is relevant to that moment, feeling let down, deflated, disappointed and cheated that i did not get to see Chuck do a smart roundhouse kick which culminated in his boot connecting with the head of the bear.

yes, i do feel this incident is a blight on my life. it weighs heavily on my thoughts, and i (perhaps rightly) feel nothing but guilt about my behaviour in this sorry incident. to have reacted in such a way leaves me open to being accused of existing as a blight on society; an embarrassment and shame.

do i have issues with bears? not particularly. back in the 80s i wore one of them smart NFL Chicago Bears shirts, but that was mostly as it was the only one they sold here in England. outside of the confines of a zoo or similar i am not sure that i have ever seen an actual bear. you could say oh, i saw a koala in the outback of Australia, but i am assured that a koala is a marsupial, not a bear as such.

it would be agreeable, and perhaps a little redemptive, if i could say that i wished to see Ranger Walker battle the bear with some smart karate so that i may learn how to deal with circumstances in which i was faced with a bear. alas, no. it was, to my shame, pure bloodlust.

no, i am not at all sure i feel all that much better after this confession. this was, up until now, a distinctly private guilt, a burned which weighed so heavily on my mind alone. every chance now exists that, with this in the open, people will view me in an even more harsh tone than before.

overall yes, i am very pleased that no harm came to the bear. had Chuck roundhouse kicked it in the head i suspect i would be wrought with guilt until the end of my days. instead, i contend only with my guilt for momentarily losing my senses and wishing that to be.

should this all have inspired you to confess your own shame in the hope that it has in some way made you feel a sense of relief, well then so much the better.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 10, 2017

simply superb stickers available


time for not one, not four, not too, but three, look you see, questions. indeed they are ones posed here, for you to answer internally. here they are -

are YOU based in the UK?

do YOU like stickers?

are YOU a fan of them first three Star Wars films?

if you can answer YES to all of the above, but in particular the first, then there is a bargain for you to be having.

yes, to use that word again, yes. not one, not three, but an incredible two sets of Star Wars stickers are available to UK enthusiasts, with each set containing no more and no less than 12 (twelve) stickers.

right now, i know, you want less of my writing, more of the details where you can get them. well then here you go, here are the links......

Star Wars stickers set one 

Star Wars stickers set two

with the auctions for both ending on 17 November 2017, now is the time to go and place a bid in order to secure them. not later, now. assuming you are reading this before that date.

the stickers all represent or if you like portray, to be sure, scenes from the first thee Star Wars films proper, which is to say the cinematic ones and the much loved Christmas Special is excluded.

each of the stickers has a bespoke, lavish and decidedly artisan description written for them. they are, i am assured, well worth your time reading. 

one downside to these stickers is that none of them feature the second best ever Star Wars character, Lobot. but fear not! fans of Lobot, and there are many, can still secure some smart Lobot stickers off of that eBay thing right here

there is not all that much else i can add, really. anyway, or besides, for me to write something here would mean for you to read it, and that would just delay you from placing a bid to secure your taking ownership of these smart stickers.

good luck, and i wish you lots of happy sticker fun!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

betrayal, and a traitor, maybe

hello there

in all likelihood this post is, look you see, more of a confession than it is anything else. or perhaps not, to be sure. more i think it is a stark, brave and bold look at the harsh realities of one of the single most important things to exist in this world.

yes, The Ashes. with the next chapter of this magnificent story about to commence the BBC has, in their wisdom, encouraged all to participate in selecting the "greatest ever" combined Ashes XI, or if you like consolidated team of English and Australian players who are the very finest. i think this closes at 10am British (as in proper) time, so if you want a go yourself here is the link.

i did this, selecting only players that i had actually seen play. i did this with complete honesty as i wished to create the greatest team ever, and yet i am sad and horrified by the build up of the team i, of Yorkshire, have wrought.

yes, look at it. no, that is not a mistake, or error. just north of a paltry 27% of my Ashes"dream team" come from the English side of this contest. this does indeed make me sad. even sadder is that Bob Willis is "only" in to shore up some defences, as a couple of those bowlers will give away a few runs as they take wickets. 

the only clear cut, first English name on the sheet - in terms of players to have taken part in the Ashes during my cricketing lifetime - is Ian Botham. even then, a lot of that is that Sir Ian is one of about three non-Australian cricketers that the Australians have said they "wished was born an Aussie". 

how did this happen? i suppose likely, since a far higher number of Australians consider the Ashes to be of greatest importance compared to us here in England. if you carried out a survey about which is the most important sporting event to win, i would say in England the answer would feature "world cup" and "football" to an overwhelming degree. i would brashly, in an appropriately Aussie way, suggest that somewhere north of 80% of Australians would instantly answer "The Ashes". they are quite right and correct to do so. 

my choice of captain? let me disgrace myself further. i cannot choose between Border or Waugh. both are as fearless as they are ruthless, and superb cricketers. either would have the resolve to lead this most ferocious of teams. 

anyway, have fun selection your own!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!