Saturday, October 20, 2018

oh, however will i cope?

hello there

one of the most interesting aspects of our (fairly) modern society here in England is the proliferation of the use of the word "could", look you see. this is invariably done in association with that thing called 'Brexit', and even more invariably (if such is possible) done so in as negative a way as possible.

a great many people are quite upset with the whole Brexit thing, to be sure. which is fair enough, for it is quite something to deal with when things don't go your way. certain corners are, however, going full tilt on this upset, spreading stories of doom and gloom, all justified by saying "it could happen". well, yes, anything, i suggest, could happen. with anything. but that is not to say that it will. or, indeed, won't.

the most interesting of these stories to come along of late struck a particular note with me. according to someone or other, and you can read all about it by clicking here for the BBC story, as and when (when) Brexit happens, the - get this - warning labels on fags will have to change, for the current ones are the intellectual property of the EU. .

wow. really? it would be nice if this meant that we could just go back to proper cigarette packets, but apparently we will have the "Australian system" in place, whatever that is exactly.

good riddance, i say. the warnings do not bother me in the slightest and, as per numerous previous posts, they would appear to be ever so slightly racist. and that is actual, not modern day definition. why? well, all of images used on these cigarette warning things are very decidedly white. quite amazed that our modern, with it and progressive press have not picked up on this, and further asked why it is so. do they think that it is only white people what smoke, or is it that they only want to warn / scare off white people? i am certain members of other ethnic groups smoke.

perhaps our brave new warnings will reflect the bold, multicultural and diverse dynamics of British life, then. but probably not.

yes, of course, should i, or for that matter Brexit, make it that far, then i have every intention of bringing you news of the new warnings when they come, and how i am coping with them.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

a reversal of fortune


this, i know, shall all be me late to the party, look you see. at first i had thought to have stumbled upon something curious, but then when i considered the matter some more i recalled that what is on offer here was, for the most part, covered pretty well by others at the time.

i would really rather suspect that the crystal clarity of the above means you know exactly what i am talking about. should for some reason that not, as point of fact, be the case, well then of course, yes, this indeed is to do with me getting my hands on one of them celebrated 'Twin Peaks' chocolate bar things off of Poundland.

for those (possibly blissfully) unaware of the great controversy, a little while ago Poundland announced the introduction of their twin peaks chocolate bar. no, it seems not to be based on or "inspired by" either the splendid TV series (despite certain font similarities) or for that matter the equally splendid adult film actress of this name. rather, then, the name is apparently due to being inspired by two hills or other, the names of which escape me.

the makers of that tourist trap chocolate, toblerone, were having none of this. it was them what observed a similarity, either passing or more than passing, to their apparently quite famous design. as i recall it all there was a minor legal scuffle about it, but eventually the courts clearly wished for the Poundland to sell whatever chocolate they wished to, in whatever shape and with whatever ingredients.

i do remember, now, that this was quite big news at the time. well, we have a tendency to take our chocolate quite seriously here in England. at the time, though, i did not pursue purchasing a bar. this was partially due to the fact that Poundland announced only "limited quantities" would be made and sold, and i had no wish to be part of a mad scramble for them. mostly, though, it was all due to the fact that i am not all that keen on toblerone chocolate, be it the real deal or a similar bar. very few that i know actually are, but we will get to that, but first this.

we are indeed moving towards an understanding of why this particular post is called what it is, which is a reversal of fortune, if you missed it. look, and observe, how this particular tide now turns. in earlier posts i have lamented how posh biscuits, such as Club and Viscount, have now fallen to the level of the preserve of the proletariat, with their cheaper pricing making them accessible to all. a certain level of common sense has evidently prevailed, then, and both the manufacturers and retailers of Viscount are inflating the price by some 400%. even if this is artificially, it is for the best.

the interesting part here, of course, is the whole "balance", the "ying and yang" end of it all. or is it yin and yang? anyway. if we take it as a given that we are meant to interpret these twin peaks bars as being an accessible format of toblerone, how that price has fallen when Viscount has risen.

once, you see, you couldn't really get the toblerone in England. as our superior chocolates were available everywhere, there was no particular reason for any proprietor to waste valuable shelf space with a lesser, more expensive one. unfortunately this generated the idea that toblerone was somehow elusive, posh and desirable. which meant that people on holiday abroad picked up bars of the stuff for relatives and what have you, believing themselves to be bringing a great and most precious treasure.

so is this twin peaks chocolate any good? not really. well, the boys seem to quite like it. for me, though, it was substantially enough "like" toblerone, or however you actually spell it, to feel more or less the same way about it. but, due to the name, and the fact that the boys like it, i may purchase more.

anyway, no, i have had a little think, and there is nothing else of interest i have to say on this subject. for the moment, at least, but you never know. should something concerning it come to mind, undoubtedly i will seek to share such words of it here.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

suede - the blue hour

howdy pop pickers

well, what can i say. later, look you see, has apparently become "later" with regards to my thoughts, musings or if you will review of a day of release album what i nearly missed out on. in fairness, i did make some comments back during the week of release on this one; with this one being The Blue Hour by Suede.

not that it matters too much, but there is reason or two for the delay in writing. yes, true, much of the number of reasons i could offer are time constraints. but, overall, or whilst it may be small in the grand scheme of things it is important to me - i wished to gather my thoughts and write all of this as best as i could. that would be for one of two reasons. either i have been duped by one of the most brazen efforts of taking refuge in audacity or, as i would rather think to be the case, this is one of the "most important" (whatever that means) recorded albums to be made, certainly at least as far as meanderings in that direction in this century go.

and no, i am not what you would call a "Suede obsessive". for several years my thoughts on them ranged from "pretty good" to more or less not troubling to listen to them. it is only "now", as in the two or so / and a bit years since the superb Night Thoughts, that i have come to accept that they were there all along, whether i was aware or not, whether i wanted them or not.

if you have somehow got through that rather clumsy set of paragraphs then it is possible you'd want a brief sort of overview of the album before you decide whether you care to read on or not. well, in that regard it does what it says on the box - the record is just south of an hour long, and it is blue in tone.

this record is a "concept album" in its purest form. by that i mean perhaps a story is being told, maybe it isn't, but a thematic mood prevails across all of the music which leaves you with the inescapable sense of being informed. comparisons are tricky, and something that i say i try to avoid but end up doing. not in musical or lyrical style or content, then, but think of the apparent confessional nature of Marillion's Misplaced Childhood and the (all bar one song, Sidewinder) focus on loss across REM's Automatic For The People, then you kind of have the direction here. but, all very much with the voice, the emotions and not so much what you would expect but what you would accept as being the continuation of how and what Brett Anderson and Suede have to say.

musically, the orchestral works that have always appeared on Suede's albums unmistakably come to the fore. i suppose this is perhaps an extension of Night Thoughts, but mostly it would seem its required to achieve the quasi gothic, crisp (hello, Faye) English / British countryside as it experiences autumn into winter required so as to deliver the tone wanted. and, yes, it really works. very well.

yes, indeed, that is what was on the go in the window of HMV during the week of release of The Blue Hour by Suede. no, no promotion of either that record or much in the way of music, with them instead electing to celebrate - and encourage the purchase of - one of the poorest Star Wars films ever to be made. that there are no so many options for the title one now cannot easily just name the worst Star Wars film ever should, you would think, be setting alarm bells off somewhere, but that's not for this post.

earlier in this post i mentioned i wanted so much to get what i say right, and yet i cannot feel that this is a clumsy, meandering mess of trying to write it. inevitable, perhaps, but let me press on.

i am not sure what to say of the lyrics. here, across The Blue Hour, we feel very far removed from the hedonistic sex and drugs fuelled joys of, say, Animal Nitrate and Metal Mickey. there's many, many wonderful lines across the songs, but there's also no simplistic, instantly accessible and sheer pure pop classic stuff as the was in, for instance, Trash and The Beautiful Ones. further, as was (i think) the case with night Thoughts, we are all finally free of Brett using cellophane and plastic as metaphors.

but, here's the thing. all of The Blue Hour feels inexplicably informed by the examples i have given, and beyond. the best way i can think to describe it all is that 2018 Brett Anderson got to go back to 1993 Brett Anderson, tell him tales of the future, let that Brett Anderson go through one quarter of a century (!) informed by it all, touched by a sense of desolate loss rather than assured acceptance.

growing up, maybe, you might call all of that. and in listening to it, possibly for the third or forth time i do not recall which, i became increasingly aware of it being of relevance to me too. no, not something daft or "meta" like "gee, i think Brett is speaking directly to me here", rather more i all of a sudden became aware of how he, Suede, have soundtracked my life - maybe mapped better. going back 25 years, the hedonism, the impulses, the sex, the drugs, the rock and the roll, the quasi maturing, the ageing, the ups, the downs, the lower than down, the resilience, the wish to feel, the where are we now is we are here now.

well, i did make it clear that i was struggling to find the right words to say all that i wished to say of The Blue Hour, and it feels most decidedly like i have in fact not found them. but maybe i have, you know, if to someone somewhere out there any of the above makes the slightest bit of sense. hopefully at least one of you will work out what it is i am trying to say, and go right ahead and articulate it better.

this is of little relevance to what i am saying, and i know quoting he who i am about to quote is about the least fashionable thing in the world, but i always love to throw this one in when i can. off Brett Anderson, Morrissey (yes, that one) once said "he seems continuously angry at God for not making him Angie Bowie". for some reason this has never failed to make me smile and laugh; if anyone ever had said any such thing about me i'd wear that one as a badge of honour.

at the least, then, HMV gave "pride of place" to the Suede album in the theoretical music section of the store. apparently Suede was "trending" that week, and rather thankfully HMV remembered they are British and that Suede are British (London, actually, since legally in the USA they are called The London Suede), and so had their album sat above the big selling one off of the frequently retiring Eminem.

would HMV have encouraged any increased sales, for them and indeed (The London) Suede, if the record had been advertised in the window? perhaps. in retrospect, i am not certain that Suede are now a band that inspire impulse purchases when one strolls past a window and observes a new recording is available.

on that note, a "Smiths phenomenon" has befallen the album in the charts. for those unaware of this "Smiths phenomenon", well, it really goes back to the days when the charts were proper and based on sales alone, not "streams" or other free listens. anyway, what happened when The Smiths (back in the 80s) released a new record, be it single or album, the (we) fans rushed to buy it either on the day of release or during its first week of availability, wishing and wanting to hear it as soon as possible. this caused the record to crash into the upper (northern) end of the charts. but, then it seemed everyone who wanted the record had bought it, and so it crashed south and out of the charts the very next week. to this end, if i have observed correctly, The Blue Hour by Suede entered the charts at a respectable enough number 5 position, but by week 2 was out of the top 40. oh.

if i am right about this record - and let us hope i am - then time shall be kinder to this album that the charts appear to have been. the mood, the tone and sound all to me suggest this is the album one should have a listen to on one of those cold, long and frequently lonely nights of the northern hemisphere window. but just how many, like me, still consider a fine evening to be just to listen to music? as in, do it and just that, with no other distractions. perhaps the passion for that will return, and The Blue Hour will be appreciated for what its.

so, the short, quasi executive summary of all of this is give this album a try, for it is superb. bar something like my much hoped for Christmas With The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses coming out, this is surely going to end up being my "album of the year" as and when i get around to doing that sort of post.

if you have read all of this, thank you indeed for sticking with it and trying to work out what it is i am attempting to say...........

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

and i swear i found the key to the universe

hello there

one question that almost never ever gets asked of me, look you see, is the title of this blog. superstition is all we have left. not sure if i have ever mentioned before, but probably not since i cannot recall anyone ever asking. well, it's just a line i like off of a song by the Manic Street Preachers, with the song in question being the superb, criminally not released as a single at a time when singles mattered still 1985.

since we are on the subject of superstition, then (play along), i have recently gained the power to know answers to the great mysteries. yes, i have procured, purchased or otherwise obtained one of those "see the future" devices known as the Magic 8 Ball.

quite why a billiard or snooker ball commonly used in the game of pool would be adopted as the conduit to reveal the mysteries and the secrets of life is something i do not know. but, let us go with it. everyone's got to believe in something, right?

a mere £2.99 this was, then, to be sure. you would think that such power would be priced out of the hands of the proletariat, even if only artificially. perhaps it is reverse psychology, then, with the ruling classes making this so cheap in price that the common folk mistake it for a novelty, and assume it cannot possibly be true or work or have power for such a lowly, affordable fee.

i have wanted to get one of these for a while now. however, i forgot, or simply had not seen one. why would me or anyone want such power? well, because David Thorne used a similar device to much humorous effect when responding to some verk related emails.

whereas i would advise you to get the books what he wrote and published, every now and then his own experiments with the mystical powers of the Magic 8 Ball feature on his website, found by clicking these words right here. yes, he is Australian, but the site appears to be the proper way around.

how do i propose to use this great power i have? carefully, partially responsibly, and when i remember. so yes, then, i have tested the powers of the Magic 8 Ball, as far as i dare. below are some of the questions i asked, and the answers given.

do be careful if you read on, then, for what is known may never be unknown.

Do you actually work?


Will The Stone Roses ever release an album called Christmas With The Stone Roses?


Will Britain ever have a proper Prime Minister again? 


Once lost, can happiness be found?


Am I a proper fan of Intergalactic by the Beastie Boys?


Are the French really all that bad?


i figured by that last question i had worn out the magical powers of the Magic 8 Ball, then, so i stopped. also, as you may well have worked out, i could not think of any other questions.

no instructions came with the Magic 8 Ball, bar the bits on the box which i did not read. strictly speaking i am very much a leaflet man. so, i am not sure i used it properly. no chants or incantations were made prior to summoning the answers of revelations of the Magic 8 Ball, and i did not wear a special cape or cloak. but, in truth, i am happy with the answers.

should there be any interest, or if i am short of something to write, and i remember, then the answer is yes, i will make every effort to unravel further mysteries and bring you the answers here.

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

Friday, October 12, 2018



so, then, i finally got around to watching this Solo film. or, if you will, Solo A Star Wars Story, look you see, for that appears to be its formal name. but, for the sake of typing it all, we shall simply call it Solo to be sure.

on the one side there seems to be little point in me rambling and making comments on a film that was release, what, 5 or 6 months ago. the other side, however, says that not quite so many saw it - Disney managed to pull off the presumed impossible with this and managed to make a Star Wars film that lost money, something not achieved with either the less widely loved "prequel" trilogy or, indeed, Ewoks Caravan Of Courage. maybe, then, there are a fair number who have not seen it but are for some curious reason wondering what it was like, or what my thoughts are.

to give a spoiler free (executive summary?), at a glance overview for those contemplating watching but wanting to know none of the "secrets", well, this is one boring film. had it been scripted and proposed as a movie without any Star Wars related character names, it would have been passed on. that's not the case with Rogue One, for example, which was a brilliant story and film in its own right that just happened to be set in that Star Wars universe. whereas their are some (brief) good to great moments in it, Solo is not a film you particularly need to watch in any great hurry, if at all.

right, you have had an overview. for the rest of this post there is no getting away from them - a really big, huge *** SPOILER WARNING *** is in place. seriously, read on not unless you have seen the film, have no intention of seeing it or could not care less if you knew the story and events backwards prior to seeing it.

so as we may start off on a positive note, a look at what this film gets right. and get right it does - perhaps for the first time since Disney took ownership of Star Wars, a "classic" character is presented exactly as they were and as they should be. take a bow all and sundry who ensured that Lando Calrissian was treated with the love, fondness and respect in Solo that precisely none of the other characters in the Disney era have been.

Lando - or if you will young Lando - looks, acts and behaves exactly as you would have imagined him to. every now and then someone does a list or article on actors what delivered really good performances in otherwise rubbish films. Donald Glover as Lando will forever be at the top of such a list. whereas his screentime is (infuriatingly) limited, it's easily the best parts. one really does wish they had just made a film called Lando, and had Han Solo as a bit part character in it. which gives you a clue, i suppose, as to how far wrong Solo really goes.

to this end, there is really one superb, great sequence in the film. well, sure, there are a number of ok moments, but by far the best is when Han, Chewbacca (Chewie, if you like) and Lando are pulling off a daring escape after a daring heist. never tell me the odds, etc.

really, this sequence should have been the premise for the film. the world simply did not need a Solo Origins story film. all and sundry of the target market are quite familiar with who the characters are; what we wanted was a two hour wise-cracking thrilling adventure of them in action. instead we just get a brief hint at how awesome such a film would have been.

yes, i am aware that i am treading quite dangerously close to the "fanboy" line here. hopefully i do not cross it, but let it be you, the reader, who judges and damns me if so.

what is sort of OK about the film? Alden Ehreneich (no idea how you pronounce, sorry) in the lead. but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. whichever actor took on this role was on something of a hiding to nothing, really. even aside from the fact that the part appears indelibly linked to Harrison Ford, what problem there is with the character is that everyone of my generation who loved Star Wars wanted to be Han. when, in the late 70s, it was break time in school and we were in the yard playing Star Wars, 100% of us wanted to be Han Solo, 0% wanted to be Luke or anyone else.

this Alden Ehreneich does a decent job of the lead role in the film, carrying as he does a pedestrian plot through a meandering script. alas, he does so without you (or maybe just me) ever really seeing or recognising him as Han Solo as such. he is not bad at all, he just seems to be playing some different character all together.

nothing unusual there, really, with the Disney approach to the source material. in The Force Awakens they successfully managed to make all of the "classic" characters be absolutely nothing like they were in the original films. for good measure, they then went ahead and changed them all about again in The Last Jedi, deftly undoing all of the (many) good parts of the first new sequel.

for the most part, they achieve this by simply refusing to let the characters be who they are. when all is said and done, when this new "sequel" trilogy of Star Wars Episodes 7, 8 and 9 are all done, one of the biggest retrospective complaints will come when fans at large realise they did not allow Han, Luke, Chewie, Leia and them robot things to have one last adventure together. with Solo, the major issue is that for some reason they didn't simply let Han be Han, having derring do scoundrel like adventures.

even when Disney relents and gives a bit of what i believe is commonly called "fan service", the results are somewhat mixed. one of the original films, i believe the first, makes reference to Han Solo doing something called the "Kessel Run" in a time or distance faster than anyone else, ever.

to be honest it's not really a part of Star Wars folklore, mythology or legend i have ever been all that interested in. so maybe i am not the best person to comment on it all. but, by the time it came into the film, i was rather thoroughly bored with it all, and nothing in the sequence was all that interesting or exciting. as point of fact, my abiding memories of the Kessel Run are or were that it was dark, murky and you had little or no idea what was going on, bar the much fabled Millennium Falcon sliding between two colliding planets or other such celestial bodies.

what of a big bad for the film? in this regard the makers were spoilt for choice, in truth. most would have reasonably expected Jabba The Hutt or a rival "space gangster" to be the villain of the piece, or failing that at the least some sort of encounter with Boba Fett or other such bounty hunter.

no, instead for the "big bad" they gave us a few seconds of a, surely in the eyes of many, bizarrely resurrected Darth Maul out of Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace.

oh yes, indeed. if one had watched all of the animated Star Wars The Clone Wars series, not to mention the equally animated Star Wars Rebels, one would have been aware that Darth Maul somehow survived being cut in half by Obi-Wan ("Ben") Kenobi. he got given some robot legs and then got told to just get on with it.

just exactly how many in the audience would have been aware of the above is debatable. not many, going on what i recall of reactions to it. in terms of giving "fan service", quite strange that they would cater to the few aware of the above, rather than the many by giving them a Jabba or a Boba, or any such "bad side" character what has a name that ends in the letter "a".

and even then, one wonders exactly how thrilled prequel / Maul / animated tv series fans will be with this. Darth Maul appears for a few seconds via one of them hologram thingies, and seems to be in it purely so that they can have a character ignite one of them light sabre things. even though he does nothing with it.

so, to go all over the place and make this non-linear, when Han met Chewie. strangely, this scene is one of the few highlights of the film mentioned, as it is a genuinely good set piece. unfortunately, however, it kind of undoes what a lot of my generation "knew". in the comics and books what came out after the Star Wars films in the 70s and 80s, it was made clear that Han Solo was a Tarzan like character, a human who grew up on the Wookie planet, and that was how he came to know the language and be friends with Chewie. yeah, that gets torn up and thrown out for something far more conventional in terms of American "buddy" movies.

they needlessly fiddle with other things, too. one of the most frustrating things about Solo is that one of the best moments in the film sits on disc two of the blu ray set, filed under "deleted scenes". those what grew up with it all knew that at one stage Solo was an Imperial pilot, and got kicked out or was a deserter. yes, they did indeed film all of this, in a really most excellent sequence, but didn't use it in the film, opting or electing instead to show him as a ground trooper. oh.

a "tell" for a Star Wars film is that it is supposed to be a fun (laser sword) swashbuckling adventure for the whole family, with the emphasis on giving the younger members of the family (kids) a sense of awe, wonder, and reason to dream. to this end, William got bored with it all and walked out of the room where we watched it just after an hour, James just sat and wondered why did they spend so much time and money making Solo the way they did, instead of an at least interesting thing.

the biggest gripe for the boys came in the form of the "big set piece", the "train heist". from what i recall much noise and fanfare was made about this sequence by the producers before it was released. essentially, as the boys observed, it strives to be a (quite poor) shot by shot rip off of a sequence that was great in Captain America The First Avenger.

other major issues with the film? well, i am going to leave Woody Harrelson out of it. in terms of Mr Dependable, yes indeed Woody Harrelson just turns up and stands around being Woody Harrelson. this works really, really well in something like Zombieland, where such a character makes sense, but not in Star Wars. this is with particular reference to his (or his characters) use of the word "hell". who knew that such a concept existed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?

who i will point out as being particularly bad, however, is Emilia Clarke. once again. yes, she is indeed a quite "popular" actress in that dragons thing, Game Of Thrones, but that seems to be in relation to the wardrobe decisions made for her character. here, much like in the awful Terminator Gensys, the "acting" we get is Ms Clarke having dark hair and standing around smiling a lot.

yes, that is her pictured with Paul Bettnay. he who was so good in that other Disney money machine, Avengers, and yet is suspiciously poor here in a role best described as "the big bad but not really the big bad as we are going to show you a few seconds of Darth Maul later". basically, he stands around a lot, has some weird lines on his face that glow when he gets angry, and takes the Al Pacino approach of either mumbling some words or getting quite shouty.

that Solo is a mess of a film and appears destined to not make any money for Disney probably puts paid to any idea of a Han Solo film that fans would actually want. all they had to do was have two hours of Han and Chewie running around, away from or for Jabba The Hutt and/or Boba Fett, with Lando hovering around to betray them but eventually redeem himself. instead, then, they went to an awful lot of effort to make something that seems bereft of any ideas or any sort of tangible point.

it will not happen, but perhaps Star Wars should simply be left well alone. any hope that the clumsy mess of The Last Jedi would not be allowed again fades away quite quickly into Solo. is it, i wonder, that Disney had not even ever seen a Star Wars before throwing many billions at it?

go, Disney, go and look at what made James Bond, the original Star Wars films (and the prequels) and even your own Avengers films such spectacular successes. what you will find is that all of them tell more or less identical stories again and again, just with slightly different spins and slightly different characters. and that, really, as an audience, is all we want. the safe, comfortable knowledge that we shall be entertained for a couple of hours by something which we are familiar, just with a bit of a different take on how it was presented this time.

and then you get something like where my brother reckoned Solo was excellent, and doesn't quite follow why i did not enjoy it. so there. perhaps of the small number who saw it many in fact really quite liked it, and i am in a sort of minority.

well, as ever, thanks for reading, and if this has been of use or interest to anyone anywhere, nice one!

live long and prosper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

fifth fair

hello again

one of them sort of "throwback" things, look you see. a post this month looking at something from last month, as opposed to one looking at something from next month, since i doubt i could conjure up pictures for it this far in advance. let me move on.

the drawing to a close of September means, in fairness, many things. for us, however, a key event is a nearby show and fair, with particular emphasis on the fair. off we went to it, as is something of a tradition. but, in this instance, just the 50% of us went.

yes, just William and i, or moi, this year. why, or for what reason? well, we had blistering, tree destroying winds, plus some formidable rain. my (considerably) better half elected not to stand in such for the sake of observing flashing and expensive lights. James, too, was not so keen on this. but, in fairness, he did go along to it the very next evening, with his mates, as the youth of the world are so prone to doing as and when a certain age is reached. which he nearly has.

as William had his heart set on going to the fair - for the fifth time in his life - and i for some reason clutch to a tradition of going, off we went, then. indeed, quite, yes, we had a most splendid time of it.

such a fun time, as point of fact, that i seldom took the phone with a camera welded to it out so that i may record all that much. every now and then, dear reader, one should really live for the moment, and not concern themselves too much with recording it all. but, yes, i did get some of it down, for i know friends and family around the world would wish for an update.

indeed, that is a ride fashioned in the means and manner of a "bucking bull", quite like the one what Gene Wilder rode most triumphantly in Stir Crazy, except totally different. William was a little unsure of it, but in the ended decided he wanted to have a go on it anyhow, and so he did.

do i have some video of this for you? why, yes, of course i do.

that is indeed Theme From Rawhide you can here. i am not sure if it is the legendary recording of it made by The Blues Brothers or the original, i would hope the latter but the former is good. yes, all the time the song was playing i had something of a splendid smile on the go, watching William enjoy the ride and of course remembering how splendid The Blues Brothers was, is, and always or forever shall be.

anyway, the ride above did get rather somewhat more enthusiastic as it went along. not quite bucking bull as such, sure, but the vibrations and shakes got a little bit more robust. alas no, i did not film any of that, thinking it best to hold off and see if i needed to grab William should the bull cast him off.

oh, yes, indeed - the pleasure of the bungee. i believe it was down at York a couple of years ago when both the boys discovered the joys of this. if i recall right, zero inflation too - back then it was £5 a go, here at the fair it was also £5 a go. making it the flagship, prestige and indeed premium attraction at the fair, but what the hey, you get what you pay for. sometimes.

no, a still image of any sort of thing what features the word "bungee" doesn't really cover what it all does, does it? or does it not, i am not sure how best to word that. which, i guess, makes it all the better that i have some video of it coming up next.

absolutely, what you can hear there is the classic song Disco (pronounced "dee aye ess see oh), much to my delight. some time ago i tried to explain to William that such a magnificent song really did exist, but he did not believe me. and now, then, he does.

other forms of fun and entertainment engaged in? well, William really wanted to go on the dodgems, or if you like bumper cars. i agreed, and further agreed to let William have his wish of driving. at first, that is. sadly, and this is not William's fault, dodgem car steering is not as adept as other vehicles, and so he made me quite dizzy having us spin around on the spot.

beyond that, William really liked the firearm based things - ones where you shoot paintballs and air rifles at an assortment of targets. no, i did not film or take images of that, feeling it better (safer) to watch and be alert, lest he get any "likely to cause damage or harm" ideas with such weaponry in his hands.

yeah, go on then, for that peculiar bunch of you who quite like me, a selfie of moi to finish off. indeed, that is the legendary jacket i have on - the "honest it is real and genuine" one Zama got me off of the back of Jozi taxi rank, some 5 or so (perhaps more) years ago. as it is still serving its purpose, far from me it be to argue or question the provenance. R200 or R300 it cost me, which when you translate into sterling is practically nothing for a jacket; not by UK prices.

soon, then, my time of being present at the fair each year shall be at an end. other than my age, or in consideration of it, there will be no reason nor excuse. just as is the case with James now, in a couple of years - less than a handful, assuming handfuls are measured in terms of fingers - William will want to be there with his mates, alone with them, and not having a parent "cramp his style". no, not even a cool, hip or with it one, such as i. such is how life is supposed to go, i presume.

enjoy it all whilst it lasts, then, and other such well used statements that are well used for they have much validity to them. and, indeed, thanks as ever for stopping by to read.

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

Monday, October 08, 2018

of books

hello reader

some more reading done then, to be sure. and some of it - not by choice, look you see - on one of them that there "e-reader" things, since for some reason absolutely none of the shops i went to (several branches of four distinctly different businesses) appeared to have any interest in having it on the shelf for sale. hey ho.

and so, as would be normal or if you like usual, a glance at the covers of those what i read, along with something of a quick, spoiler-free overview.

right then, as you may have worked out or ascertained it was Dragon Teeth, the 3rd or 4th "final novel, honest" from Michael Crichton. there are some plus points, but ultimately its publication kind of tarnishes his work and maybe this one should have stayed in a filing cabinet or similar. meanwhile, The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor has some flaws and faults but is ultimately breathtakingly brilliant, and is yet another strong contender for that coveted "book of the year" what i select when the year is done. no, really, that good, and you may want to skip this and simply go read that one, now.

to be clear, and to be sure, a big, massive *** MAYBE POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING *** is now in place. whereas i shall try not to give much away, for the cautious, there you go. further, or also, i have elected to drop the links i put in. well, i've proven that i do not use online retailers for novels, so it seems silly for me to imply that i would be including such links. if you wished to find any of these novels, i am confident you will.

starting where i started with the two, then, and one that i had really, really been looking forward to. so yes, then, Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton. it follows on from at least another two novels as being declared his "final one", with his Estate (i think he was married to her out of Sledge Hammer, if so nice one) sending them off for publication.

provenance of my copy? well, for three months i looked and tried to purchase at Morrison, Tesco, WH Smith and that other book chain that i cannot remember the name of. hang on let me google.....Waterstones. sight nor sound of it. no, i did not ask them to order, as that would mean to commit to coming back and my time is seldom my own. no, i did not order online, as the paperback price was even higher than what WH Smith charge for such. so, an "ereader" copy, then.

the provenance of the novel itself? well, according to information from the Estate of Michael Crichton, they believe he wrote this one in the early to mid 70s, but for some reason it was never revised or published during his lifetime. having read it, i can quite steadfastly assure you that it was perhaps not published during his lifetime because it wasn't very good. i mean, it's not bad, but it is not good.

plot? back in 1870s America a wealthy student makes a whimsical bet that he can go to the frontier that is "the West" and survive. whereas he, William Johnson, is fictitious, he encounters numerous real characters from history, notably two palaeontologists (Cope and Marsh), Custer, Wild Bill, the Earp brothers and a few more. and that's kind of it.

this is a really good idea for a novel, but alas it's just far too simplified and flimsy. nearly nothing, bar the challenges of photography in Deadwood, gets any decent detail. my biggest disappointment is the fact that the title becomes an irrelevance. i really was hoping this novel would play on one of my pet theories, that in the Dark, Middle Ages or "medieval" times, people found dinosaur bones, but not knowing why they were so black and charred assumed they breathed fire and hence the legend of dragons being born. no such luck, alas, with the dinosaur bones being kind of key to the latter plot but mostly ignored.

having had to wait to get this novel, then, i kind of find myself wishing that i had not. sure, there was potential for this to be developed and expanded into something great. the fact that Michael Crichton elected not to do that at any stage of the 70s, 80s, 90s or 00s perhaps says it all. what a shame. but, you know, if you are a fan of Crichton like me, then yeah, there are sort of enough bits in the book to make it worthwhile reading. just, not that many, at all.

not really any such problems or the like affecting a reading of The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor, then. as mentioned above, 'tis brilliant, if somewhat confused by the "rent a quote" review off of Stephen King on the front cover.

plot? the novel dips back and forth between 30 years. a childhood game which involved drawing chalk men may or may not have led to certain tragedies and events happening. after many (erm, 30) years of keeping it all buried, doing that (sometimes wise) pretend nothing happened thing, for some reason the incidents are all coming back to the fore, and could be all sorts of trouble for those involve, in particular our narrator, the protagonist Eddie......

oh yeah, provenance of my copy - Tesco, and it was either £2.50 or £3.50 as they seem to have stopped with their £2 and £3 offers. yes, indeed, i did happen to purchase this on one of several fruitless visits to see if i could not procure a paperback of Dragon Teeth, but no matter.

i have tried to be vague with the details of the novel so as not to give spoilers. that's because, overall, this is superb, and highly recommended reading. and so i would rather keep details limited. except to say yes, maybe, it is at heart a "horror" tale, i suppose, but a traditional, classical British one. no idea why they felt Stephen King was the best quote, as this is far removed from his (superb in its own right) works; this ranks up with the greats of British horror writing, in particular James Herbert and Clive Barker.

sure, there are one or two niggles and flaws with the novel. most books do have such. it is when the sheer joy and pleasure of reading outweighs all of them that you know you have found a really, really good book. and that is what has happened here. so, let me leave it at that, lest me risk waffle and spoiling anything.

anyway, as ever it would be splendid if this has been of some (or any) use to anyone out there. mostly, though, thanks for taking the time to read!

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

Sunday, October 07, 2018

double digits

hello there

did you know that only 25% of the months of any given, traditional year have double digits? yes, you probably did, look you see.

we are now into that 25%, then, for the first double digit measured month of any given year - October - is now with us. assuming you are reading this in the month what i wrote it.

indeed, this all means one thing - here, for those of you with an expression of interest, is the calendar update for the month that is this month, October 2018.

that is my Minecraft calendar, the one that cost a few pennies, for the month. as you can see, quite a lot of hue and saturation or whatever of the shade of orange to it. orange for October, perhaps, or maybe it is to be symbolic of pumpkins, what with this being the time of all that halloween business.

i really would have thought you would have all been better off just getting your own calendar, rather than rely on me to share images of mine here. but, if for some reason it is easier for you to plan your days with all of this, then so be it.

yes, the Winnie The Pooh one we have, down in the kitchen. with the bottom part cut off, sorry. that, as you can see, is Tigger cuddling up with the baby kangaroo, presumably called Roo or Joey or similar.

what is this strange world of Winnie The Pooh where tigers, kangaroos and indeed bears (or at the least one of each) all live together? i must investigate further.

anyway, with luck and good fortune this will help you plan out whatever it is you need to plan out for the remainder of the month ahead.

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

Friday, October 05, 2018

it's not where you're from it's where you're at


one of the more popular things out there - to market and sell, look you see, and not necessarily all that popular with members of the public - is, well, not what i am going to write about. now that i think on, the most (mildly) infuriating adverts on tv at present are a succession of hideous, for no apparent reason American themed things offering to send you shaving gear "cheap". so far as i can tell, absolutely none of them are cheaper than the couple of quid a chap who wished to shave would need to get some disposable razors and requisite foam off of Poundland.

to get to the point, then, as Christmas ebbs closer - or we move towards Christmas, depending entirely on how you see who or what moving when or where in respect of the commonly agreed, but without scientific foundation, means of "measuring time" - certain adverts shall appear again. some of these shall be for things what claim to be "the absolute perfect gift", but then reveal that all they want is a DNA sample off of you to give you a vague idea of where you are from.

also, in terms of Christmas advertising, i see any sort of form or semblance of intelligent journalism is now dead and gone here in England. yes, John Lewis. the British press, media and what have you are reporting "John Lewis reports 99% fall in profits" and "John Lewis pay Elton John £5million to be in advert" as two separate stories. who knows, with a bit of effort perhaps some plucky journalist, or news desk editor, might have looked at the two stories and considered the potential for some sort of link there.

yeah, that's a right foot chart, by the way, mirror it, i suppose, for your left. although if your left looks exactly like the above, perhaps consider a doctor or similar for consultation.

i am uncertain that i get the fascination with knowing where you are from in terms of centuries before you existed. also, i am uncertain that the idea of sending off personal information and a DNA sample to some sort of "honest" research lab is for me. to act as some sort of balance between the two, then, there is the above. that is, internet says, a "guide to feet", with the shape and/or size of your toes giving you a pretty good indication of which classical civilisation you hail from.

how accurate is the above? well, according to it and a cursory look at my one foot, i am of Egyptian, Arabic, Greek and possibly Celtic or Gaelic origin. no, i have absolutely no idea if i am or not, but the sort of shapes i can pull with my feet say yes. for me, though, yes, no, it's where you are at, not where you are from, that matters.

exactly where should you conduct your own test on your feet, so as you may see where you are from if you are so interested? i would totes say that on public transport is the best place, with particular emphasis on the London Underground ("tube") system. that way others may see what you are doing, and out of curiosity may well elect to join in and do the same. see, meeting new people can be easy.

let it not be said that i somehow said that these "trace your ancestry by giving us money and unrestricted condition free access to your DNA" are bad, considering the lawyers they have. far from it. pictured above is my chum Spiros, enjoying a fine meal. some of you may recall from, well, close to a couple of years ago now, that Sprios did indeed do one of them tests, and it was found that he was of nobility and royalty in at least two nations.

so yes, then, by all means go and get one of them tests done, for like Spiros it might turn out that you too, actually, are the crown prince or princess of some far off land what you have never ever heard of.

what, exactly, is Spiros doing in the above image? actually, testing out or flexing his deft culinary skills, if that is indeed the correct and proper work for cooking and that. once upon a time Spiros, before being the greatest legal mind of his or any generation, was considered as being the finest, most outstanding sauté chef (saucier) to have ever lived.

no, he never revealed the special, magical, not difficult to get but all the same quite limited daily availability secret substances he added to his sauces. whilst all but retired from this, Spiros does, from time to time, still allow certain members of the gentry to taste his special, celebrated sauce. in quite specific circumstances, which are sadly ones i am not prepared to list here.

so, anyway, yes. if you happen to have feet, a reasonable number of toes linked to those feet and a curiosity about your origins, then perhaps this has been of some help. if not, well, cheers for reading anyhow.

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

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

random bowie - space oddity

Howdy Pop Pickers

Well, here we are again, look you see. Another episode (edition) of Random Bowie for your entertainment. And mine, to be frank. I've been loving using this as an excuse to listen to one album of his for a month or so in order to compose some thoughts, words and what have you.

In this episode, then, we are off to the album (record) many would assume or take as a given as being his first ever, or if you like his debut. Not so, for to dabble in the random quick facts at first, Space Oddity, which is what we shall look at (listen to) here is, according to the standard, commonly agreed way of counting his records, David Bowie's second album. A look at that shall be had here, and indeed as and when I get around to that so-called "first" one.

So yes, then, as per the above, it is Space Oddity on the stereo for this edition. Or, is it?

Quick fire random facts to address the title. It has three - not two, not four, but three. Originally it was released as David Bowie in late 1969, but re-released in 1972 as Space Oddity. Just to add to the confusion it was initially released in the USA as Man Of Words Man Of Music. As my late 80s / early 90s CD is called Space Oddity that's what I am sticking with for this post.

Let's do this one track by track, shall we? I have not done that with one of these episodes for a while, which may well explain why the readership numbers are dropping off for them. Hey ho, they entertain me to do.

But first, an overview. Yes, there is a danger of taking this album and retrospectively saying "oh well, oh wow, it was clear that he was going to become one of the most important musicians of the century" by applying what we know now which was not known then. There is some truth in this, but I shall try to be careful or otherwise mindful as I go.

Space Oddity - Possibly the titular track and undeniably his first big hit. The song that "made" him as a musician or if you will pop star, and one that he would return to in a direct (Ashes To Ashes) and indirect (Pet Shop Boys remix of Hallo Spaceboy, the Blackstar video) way over the years. Also, easily the oldest song to have been something of a staple in live sets, perhaps because he loved it, he felt he owed it or just expected that the fans expected it. Or all three.

As this would rank as one of the most well know, and consequentially most often played, of Bowie songs, I am not sure what I can say of it. Yes, I go through periods where I am tired of the song itself. It was the thought of hearing this tune again that perhaps has had me drag my feet getting to the album. But, you know (and I know you know), it's got that stature because it really is that good a song. Fortuitous, perhaps, that the NASA Moon landings were a success and this was adopted for coverage of that by many broadcasters, but one can only play the hand they are dealt.

The common understanding is that the song was influenced greatly by Bowie's (perhaps after taking something not entirely legal) viewing of Kubrick's 2001 : A Space Odyssey. Hence the song name playing with the film title. An alternate theory exists, however, which suggests that the whole song is about someone taking heroin. Plausible? Well, Bowie played with the theory, or confirmed it, with the line we know Major Tom's a junkie on Ashes To Ashes. No idea, in truth, and I suspect no one ever shall. It kind of fits, I guess, in a similar way to the claims that Love Spreads by The Stone Roses is an ode to heroin. You can take it that way if you so wish.

Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed - Perhaps the perfect song title to describe (perfectly) every arts and literature student ever, so long as they did it properly. I certainly tried.

Most tend to see (or rather hear) this as 1969 David Bowie being "inspired" or heavily influenced by Bob Dylan. True, Bowie would go on to pay homage to Dylan (kind of) on Hunky Dory. Elements of the folk like harmonica driven song do sound a touch like this is the case, and we are in an era where David was still very much trying to find his own voice. Lyrically, I don't get the Dylan comparison, but that might be me not being as aware of Dylan's lyrics as much as I could be, should someone want to correct me.

It's a peculiar song. My instinct is to suggest an early incarnation of Bowie's passion for subverting things, but this is something he would do with his image more rather than in lyrics like here. First off, it kind of starts off creepy (quite or in passing creepy in the late 60s, very creepy in the present day), with Spy, spy, pretty girl, I see you see me through your window. For some reason this line brings to mind an inaccurate remembering of another 60s film, Blow Up. Anyway, on the song goes, with the narrator shifting from being "the cream of the Great Utopian Dream" to "a phallus in pigtails" with rotting tissue and missing eyes in the space of two verses.

Not a bad song, not a great. The music is boss, mind - simplistic but catchy, and Bowie's own voice seems to break out (arguably for the first time, maybe) when he belts out variations of the song title.

Don't Sit Down - Some have this as a separate track, some have it as just added on the end of the above or before the next. In either case, 40 seconds of musicians strumming, tapping and tinkering, Bowie giggling and saying "don't sit down".

Letter To Hermione - One thing that would become exceedingly rare in Bowie's career would be him overtly and directly saying something in his songs about his personal life. As point of fact, you could well argue that after this record it happened maybe a handful of times, until of course the ultimate display of this on Blackstar and Lazarus. Even then, you'd have to have some sort of background knowledge of Bowie's personal life to say things like, for better and for worse, Kooks, Golden Years and Jump They Say were overtly personal.

This song, or as David said letter, is then to Hermione Farthingale on the occasion of their breaking up. Depending on which account you wish to believe, she was the girl who broke David Bowie's heart. Most tend to agree that this was done by her running off with another actor on the set of a film, or simply because she was not prepared to tolerate his by that stage already legendary promiscuity, but more on that (maybe) in a bit. In terms of accounts to believe, a popular rock myth or legend is that it was this break up which made Bowie decide to give up on his original acting ambitions and concentrate purely on music.

Never mind that, is the song any good? Well, it's moping, sulking, lamenting late teens / early twenties of age desolation and despair at the end of the world of someone we're enamoured with leaving us. Most, if not all, of us have perhaps been to this state of mind; maybe more than once. Divorced from background and its own right this is no classic but it is not so bad. Perhaps the purpose is best left as pure catharsis, although again more on that in a bit. Just a special mention for all you James Blunt fans, if you liked You're Beautiful or whatever it was called, here you go, here's that sentiment recorded some 30 odd years earlier.

Cygnet Committee - At somewhere over nine minutes long I suspect, and this is off the top of my head, that this is the third longest ever David Bowie song, just behind Blackstar and Station To Station, both of which cross the ten minute mark. Perhaps it is in terms of length alone that some, over the years, have gotten carried away and declared it Bowie's "first true masterpiece". No, it isn't, if such a thing existed on this record then the test of time says it is the (possible) titular track, surely. But no, it is not a bad song.

Is this worth your investment of nearly ten minutes? Ostensibly yes, of course, any David Bowie song is ultimately worth as much of your time as he felt required. But, to address the above observation, I am not at all sold on the idea of this song being a "masterpiece".

For the sake of a brief overview, the song tells the tale of a messiah-like leader and his rise and fall. Whereas some suggest this "foreshadows" (I hate that word, too often these days "foreshadowing" gets used to describe really obvious plot set ups in films) his later work, most specifically Ziggy Stardust, I have a different take. Everything about the story, to me, says that, like me, David Bowie really liked Tommy by The Who. Unlike me, Bowie had the talent and ability to churn out "something along the lines of the conclusion of Tommy", telling a semi-similar story in a shorter space of time than a double album rock opera.

There is much of merit here. Musically there are suggestions of the sound to be found on Man Who Sold The World and indeed both Ziggy and Aladdin. Lyrically there are some wonderfully worded parts. In terms of delivery, this is a first instance of Bowie really finding his own singing voice. But, ultimately, the song feels either barely equal to, or perhaps even less than, the sum of the parts. Good, but I am not certain that I would call it great or a masterpiece.

Janine - No, no idea who Janine who or was to Bowie. Perhaps someone he knew, maybe just a creation for the purposes of the song.

This is really good. As in, very good. Wonderful music, playful lyrics, and very catchy. Listening to it again a few times of late before writing this has left me rather surprised that this didn't become a staple of his live sets, at least up to the 73 / 74 period. This is a "singalong", with it being tricky not to join in with the infectious chanting of the titular name (think Ruby by Kaiser Chiefs, but with an even better rest of the song), and, whilst confessing I am no musician, it sounds like fun to play. This would be true of the particularly quasi country and western feel to the guitar at the start.

Lyrically it goes, I suppose, into some dark places. The last lines, "But if you take an axe to me, you'll kill another man, nit me at all", has caused some interesting interpretations. Some have suggested that this is an early use of a fractured psyche as a narrator, perfected perhaps in Cracked Actor and maybe Station To Station, depending on how you hear that song. I think that's people doing that "retrospective" thing, and it feels as though it is robbing the song of some of its own character and invention. My impression is that Janine is a form of (creepy maybe) stalker figure, and the person she craves (David, perhaps) is simply not who she in her own mind thinks he is. Well worth a listen, either to figure out for yourself or just to enjoy.

An Occasional Dream - Remember the "more later" aspects of Letter To Hermione? Welcome to later. Yes, this is the second (and so far as I am aware final) song about this lady on the album. But not, it would seem, the final one of his career.

What we have here is more broody lamenting longing from David about this Hermione lady. He really did seem to have some rather strong feelings for her, and wished to be with her once more. Set out here would be some good (rose tinted, maybe) memories, all with a more poppy, yet fundamentally folksy, musical sound.

It's a good / average / acceptable song in its own right, but mostly hearing it again has prompted the question, exactly how long did this Hermione haunt or otherwise exert a presence in the mind of David Bowie? What other songs referenced her? I can recall at some stage Hermione, in a rare interview, indicated that she believed she was the "girl with the mousy hair" from Life On Mars?, for a start. Most overtly, she was referenced to in the video for Where Are We Now?, when Bowie wore a t-shirt with Song Of Norway on it. Two songs which reference Hermione, possibly the only two songs (I cannot think of another at this stage) he did which end with the punctuation of a question mark.......

Did he really long for her over the course of those many years? Or did she simply come to mind from time to time, with the strong youthful feelings he had for her never quite going away? Maybe he went years - decades, perhaps, without ever giving her the moment of a thought. I mean, usually I don't trouble myself with the personal life of Bowie or any of my "heroes" for that matter. But this is now, for the want and wish of different wording, intriguing. Exactly how much of his music, his art, that which I love so much and has meant so much to me, was formed out of the feelings he wrestled with in respect of this lady? Perhaps, or more than likely, we shall never know. Maybe we are not supposed to.

Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud - To my knowledge the "longest surviving" song from this album, as in it was played live as late as 72, 73 on the Ziggy Stardust tours of the known universe. And with good reason, for it is a most excellent song.

Honestly there's loads going on in this song, and you are better off just listening to it (or listening to it again) rather than reading my mutterings. But, you know, that is probably true of all Bowie songs on which I write, so let me just plod along now.

The conduit used for this song is a fantasy like thing. Some suggest a reference to Buddhism, I say Bowie noted how much success (and girls) Led Zeppelin enjoyed with songs of elves, wizards and other such sh!t, and fancied some of that. If not all of it.

Basically the song tells the story of an individual being persecuted for being different, and then that individual ultimately being destroyed by a rampant effort to defend and avenge him. Those keyboard warriors who rush to "social media" to bravely and anonymously get outrageously offended on behalf of others might want to listen to this song, although I suspect they may just adopt it as an anthem.

Another of those "random facts" seems appropriate to drop in here, although it's not directly relevant to the song. One thing Bowie is frequently called, other than "genius", is either "the chameleon of rock" or "the chameleon of pop", depending on the music being discussed. He once commented on this title, saying that he never quite understood it. David, showing perhaps more wisdom than those who use the phrase, suggested that the point of a chameleon was that it changed to blend in with its surroundings, whereas David felt he always stood out as a little bit different. Oh.

God Knows I'm Good - Or, if you will, Shoplifters Of The World Unite some 25 years prior to The Smiths recording that particular song.

The song tells the story of a girl out shoplifting, taking a "tin of stewing steak" if you are wondering. A point of interest is the song just tells the incident - no reason given for the theft (desperation, desire or compulsion) and no judgement, bar the girl telling herself "God knows I'm good" to if not justify what she's doing then to keep calm as she does it.

Short, to the point, top narration and it features one of the best lines by Bowie - "so she closed her eyes to keep her conscience blind". Well, one of the best lines not to have as wide an audience as, say, all them hits what he delivered.

Memory Of A Free Festival - When people have spoken of Cygnet Committee as being Bowie's "first real masterpiece", I am wondering if they are recalling the album it was on, but having a bit of a brain melt or getting confused, with the intention being to cite Memory Of A Free Festival instead.

Another song of "epic" (north of seven minutes) length, and thoroughly justified. In fact, it would not be so bad if this one went on for even longer.

Ostensibly this song is Bowie recalling an arts festival he helped organize in London during the hedonistic summer of 1969. In truth, the song rather evokes in an attractive, vivid way all that is good about any decent music festivals. This song is really how one would like to think Glastonbury was, for instance, before it became one big corporate showpiece.

Whereas the lyrics are wonderful across, it is the end chant, "the Sun Machine is coming down and we're gonna have a party" which is pure and simple magic. Anthemic, if you like. There's also a little bit of that subversion going on here from Bowie. Whereas the vast majority of the album, if not all of it, prior to Memory Of A Free Festival dealt with isolation, individuality, being alone, despair and so forth, this is unashamedly about a sense of being part of a group, part of a movement, and belonging. It is unapologetic in doing so. Also, it's one generation under the same groove a couple of decades or so before The Stone Roses had everyone follow them to some industrial wasteland to perform their art.

Conversation Piece - A bonus track on the late 80s / early 90s CD issue. This was meant as a b-side for Space Oddity, but I think it ended up being released with The Prettiest Star. It was intended for the album proper, and fits most of the tone.

Quite a sad, sorrowful story of a student type trying to convince himself that he's content with his life of solitude, but by the end clearly and tearfully confesses that he hates being alone. The music and lyrics are affecting and touching. Too much, really. I suspect I heard this at a far too impressionable stage of my life, and for some reason in part adopted the persona of the song. Really rather wrong of me in retrospect, and how I wish someone had stopped me, but then anyone who cared probably presumed (perhaps / actually rightly) that I would remain resolute and stubborn. Hey ho.

This song clearly stuck with Bowie, too. It was one of a number he re-recorded for Toy, the ostensible and never (officially) released "follow up" to Pin Ups. Should I remember right, the re-recorded version ended up on a bonus disc with some editions of Heathen.

Memory Of A Free Festival Part 1 and Part 2 - Two more bonus tracks on the same CD. Effectively the same song from the album itself, split in two for the benefit of releasing it as a single. So far as I am aware, and to my ears, a literal split, and nothing different to it.

Phew. That's an awful lot of writing.

I am going to "miss" this album. For several years now it has been left unplayed, even before I embarked on the ambitions and demands of this Random Bowie project. My memories were a mixture of it being "a bit meh" and being haunted by the profound effect Conversation Piece had on me. How wrong I was.

No, this is no masterpiece. But this is really very good indeed. Rather than getting into all that "oh, you can see his greatness" nonsense about the record, I'd rather say it is totally, totes, absolutely worth getting and listening to for its merits in its own right. There are many songs here, going from good to great to excellent, which time have left overlooked simply due to the staggering amount of quality music he went on to create.

So yes, then, you the casual Bowie listener or whoever you are. If you don't have a copy of this album, no matter what title you prefer, it is totally worth getting, as the great music on this record is seldom featured anywhere else. As and when I finish all this Random Bowie business, this is one of the records I shall be going back to.

In terms of "seldom featured elsewhere", or whatever I said, now that I think a number of the songs do indeed feature on disc one of the Bowie At The Beeb set. Of the songs to feature, Letter To Hermione and An Occasional Dream do not. Make of that what you will.

Well, that's that for this episode or, if you like, edition. Thank you very much indeed, once again and as ever, for taking the time to read it. Or skim through it. Or just look at the pictures.

Right, until the next time, then,

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