Saturday, April 30, 2016

parking suspension

hello people

and so here we are. today is not so much a day that we are on the eve of May, although to be fair we are indeed that, look you see, but rather a day that sees us on the eve of the race coming through our part of the world. the much vaunted and celebrated Tour de Yorkshire is very much underway as a going concern, and tomorrow is the day that it will pass us by.

preparations ahead of this day have been underway, but they are somewhat all the more underway today. things are being done in advance of it, with particular focus being placed on ensuring that no cars, or any sort of vehicles, are parked on bits of the road where the cyclists will all bomb past.

these parking restrictions, or if you like suspensions, have caused a fair degree of controversy. we shall have a look at that as we go along in this post, with the "we" element depending a very good deal indeed on you bothering to read all of this.

it would be fair to say that not everyone is thrilled by the Tour de Yorkshire heading our way, and even those who are find themselves less than impressed with the best efforts of the council to get everything ready for it. but let's have a look at some more of the parking restrictions, along with some of the blue and yellow bunting that has been put up all over the place.

one of the major concerns about the parking restrictions has been that they are seemingly in effect now, some 24 hours before the race passes by. these concerns are not without justification - as we are on the last Saturday of a month people have been freshly paid, and so this Saturday tends to be one where businesses attract the most coins of money. this is an important part of keeping businesses, and the economy, going.

from the perspective of the council, i suppose it "makes sense" to get the streets and course of the race cordoned off as soon as possible, although that mostly only "makes sense" in that it would cost them too much to get council workers to come and do it all early on a Sunday morning.

are delays going to be possible as a result of the Tour de Yorkshire coming our way? yes, for this sign tells us that this is quite likely to be the case.

there have been signs around like this for a couple of weeks now. it is most smart that they are alerting people to the fact in a way that is as advanced as possible.

as valid as many of the complaints and concerns people have had about how the council has gone about things, one has to remember that there is a great deal of pressure on us in terms of the Tour de Yorkshire. as we are, after all, the most prestigious and important area of Yorkshire - making us in effect the most important part of the most important part of the world - we are naturally hosting the most prestigious and important part of the race itself; all ten minutes of it. give or take.

look, you see, they have even arranged for the decoration of the ceremonial statue of James Cook, discoverer of Australia and possibly ruler of it too.

am i excited by all of this? but of course i am. i think it's absolutely boss that cyclists from around the world can come and do an official tour of our beautiful part of the world. also, this race gets an audience from around the planet, or if you like a worldwide one. allowing them to see how the world should be - as in it should all be like Yorkshire and then everything will be ace - gives them all something to aspire to. put pressure on their leaders and politicians, you know.

some more of the celebratory items placed up in advance of the race, along with some more notifications of parking suspensions? sure, why not. here's another yellow and blue bike, and indeed another yellow and blue sign warning you not to park or unload anything there.

how many of these yellow and blue bikes are around the village? i think officially there are one hundred, but i am reliably informed that, due to renegade actions seeing people adding their own unofficial ones, there could well be upwards of one hundred and eight. no, i have not painted my own bike and put it on display.

it is truly magnificent, though, that so many have put so much effort in, as well as personal cost in terms of time and money, to celebrate and embrace this event. it could well be that this is the one and only time that the Tour de Yorkshire comes our way. why would you not, then, make the most of it?

what is interesting, of course, is that Middlesbrough town and Middlesbrough council are decidedly making the most of it. whilst i would always consider Middlesbrough itself to be in Yorkshire, the powers that be in charge of the town have always had a "flexible" approach to this subject. the council, the mayor and other authorities are all, like totes 100% adamant and absolute that Middlesbrough is in Yorkshire as and when this can be used to promote themselves and the town. not so much when it comes to doing things for the region that would cost them, i note. bus routes between us in "actual" Yorkshire and the "assumed" Yorkshire of Middlesbrough? sorry, no - then they are "Redcar & Cleveland", and so do not subsidise or pay for the buses to go between the two.

more the pity, really - if they hadn't brutally knacked public transport by lowering the budget and cutting the services then not so many of us would have cars, and there would not be so much controversy about these parking restrictions. when officials from Middlesbrough council watch the start of the Tour de Yorkshire's third day tomorrow, i will take it as a given that they do so with an inherent sense of shame about this.

have we had any more snow today? yes. do you want to see a video of it? no, too bad, here it is.

what's that, you want to see another parking suspension sign? sure. questions - valid ones - have been asked about how come the council has all this time, money and other resources to nail parking suspension signs virtually everywhere, and yet cannot afford a lollipop man for the school crossing, or afford to fix roads, or afford to pay for new road marking painting.

i suppose if we jazzed all that sort of stuff up, calling it "Safely Allowing Children To Get To School de Yorkshire" or something, they would soon find the budget to do it and bask in the glory of it. which would be absolutely fine, since it meant by default children could cross the road safely.

some more of the decorations, but from a distance and just slightly after the snow of this last day of April had stopped falling? sure, why not.

from what i could see the parking restrictions in place have not, as such, prevented the businesses of our village from engaging in some brisk and successful transactions so far. but yeah, it would have been nice if the council was just that little bit more committed to the benefits of the Tour de Yorkshire and had instead arranged to do all these closures and warnings later this evening, or even early in the morning. but they didn't, so there you go.

yes, i expect i will be off to watch the activities, the racing and the festivities tomorrow. i will of course take pictures and that, and no doubt shot them on here. until then, then,

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

forgotten cinema : king frat

Hi There

A constant quarrel in the world of cinema, look you see, is just what exactly makes a film a cult one, a classic one or a cult classic. Some would argue that if a film is remembered in any sort of fond way by more than one person several years after it has been released then that’s all the boxes ticked. For others, there is criteria to meet. A certain memorable quality has to exist, for certain, and strangely many think that if a film was a financial success then by default it must be excluded from “cult” status.

None of the above really helps in understanding where exactly King Frat fits in with a definition, then. It’s one that I remember fondly, at the least, and I dare say some of my friends from the time we all first saw it don’t carry negative thoughts on it.

Having nothing particular better to write about right now, and mindful of the fact that I stumbled upon the DVD of this film as I was unpacking some other stuff, I figured I might as well have a bit of a gander.

Sorry, no I am not going to dig out too many facts and figures related to the film – there’s plenty of information like that around the web anyhow. Yeah, sure, it would be nice for me to keep everything in one nice place for you, but you really should get out more in terms of visiting other sites. People, for the most part, put effort into putting stuff on the net; the least you can do is have a look.

Oh yes, my dream then as it is now is to one day have a number plate like the one above on my car. That would be awesome to drive around with.

Plot? Mindful of the above, as per most stock reviews of the film it doesn’t particularly stray too far away from being a “homage” to Animal House, with the studio that financed and released it clearly hoping to catch some of the coins of money that film did. You basically have a “bad boy” fraternity on a college campus and the administrators of the college wish for it to be gone due to it not conforming with the prim and proper posh image they wish to have represent them. Meanwhile, all the “bad boy” fraternity wishes to do is party and have fun.

The above is it, but weirdly, and sometimes you think accidentally, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Nostalgia bathed in sentimental hygiene? For sure. I first encountered this film, as I did so many of the films I have fond recollections of, via Mike Llewellyn. This was a film he was aware of and seen long before anyone else at school. His parents had a somewhat “flexible” level of tolerance as to what films he could rent and watch. Also, the video shop at the petrol station at Marton Road only had this on Beta, and Mike had a Beta. So his house will be the first where we saw it. After that, it emerged that a video shop called Flixx, located on Linthorpe Road in town (I think where the Subway is now, or close), had both King Frat and Party Animal on VHS. I can remember my Mum agreeing to drive me there and rent them. I probably made copies of those rentals, but I am not sure how wise it is to state such a thing here so I shall not, thanks.

For the most part, then, the film is a sequence of vaguely connected scenes and set ups which illustrate how much fun the bad boys of the fraternity, Pi Kappa Delta or something, have, whilst showing the extreme displeasure of the authorities, or if you like powers that be, at this being the case. Huge chunks of this humour – in particular the big contest at the heart of the film – are scatological. Which kind of makes it strange that I recall it so fondly, as it’s not over the years been a source of humour that I’ve particularly cherished or celebrated.

Highlights? Well, the bit where they “burn sh!t” through the ventilation system of a funeral home whilst the service is being held for the former dean of the college was memorable.

In our innocence, or our uneducated and unaware 10 or 11 year old minds, it was of course actual sh!t that we thought they were burning; we didn’t know that the word was a slang term for marijuana. Also, we didn’t know what marijuana was.

Then of course there is the centerpiece of the film, the big news and big deal fart contest.

Erm, yeah. To my younger mind, and maybe exposure to this is why my mind went the way it did, this was the most ridiculous and audacious thing ever, was hugely funny, and somehow made perfect sense. Who was I to doubt or question that in this amazing place called America that they had something as interested or as well attended as fart contests?

The host / judge of the contest seemed legit, and he certainly spoke of a way in which it all seemed so serious and real. Also, the Fartometer was an amazing looking piece of technology, far beyond any device we had ever seen.

Is there any merit or redeeming feature to the film? Oddly yes. One gets a sense that it was accidental, but it’s genius if this was deliberate. A good deal of the plot resolution, as in how – surprise! – it turns out that the fraternity is allowed to exist is that proof is delivered that the land of the campus actually belongs to the tribe or if you like society of the American Indians, or Native Americans if being politically correct makes your world better, which one of the frat members belongs to. In effect, then, this film makes a comment on the at the time very rarely mentioned historical fact of large amounts of American land being stolen from the native population, long before references to it were fashionable or even politically correct.

Does this vague value make it worth your time watching? Not in itself, no. Beyond some funky music, the film is pretty basically made, quite poorly acted and overall quite dated. But then I did, and still do, find it riotously funny. If you are one of them f*****g Millennials that I speak of so fondly here from time to time that has been raised on things like American Pie, Freddy Got Fingered and Road Trip, then this movie will give you a glimpse of the origins of the traditions of those films. Also, I would suggest that the makers of Beavis & Butthead, and South Park, were “aware” of King Frat, and allowed their own excellent work to be “informed” by it.

For me the film brings back memories of how awesome this America looked in the 80s, and how much I, and I suspect many of my friends, would have loved to have been going to college there. It just looked all so free and fun and wonderful, far more exciting that the stuffy, pompous and uptight life that laid ahead of us in England.

If for some reason you are inspired to seek out King Frat and watch it after reading this, what can I say but either sorry in advance or I hope you enjoy it and laugh as much as I did and still do.

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

and yet more snow still


well, there we go. we are now even closer to May than we were in my last post on this subject, which makes the presence of snow all the more just plain wrong, look you see.

on the one side i could not imagine that posts like this are of all that much interest to anyone, but then again i do have a number of family and friends around the world who have not had all that much exposure to or experience of the stuff. i can only trust that i somehow give them a sense of what it's like, beyond of course the fact that it makes all rather cold.

we had hoped that the snow we experienced earlier in the week was it, but not to be. as we had breakfast this morning, and indeed as i drove around, we had yet more still fall.

if you are wondering just how it is that snow came to be on the inside of my car, that's because for the most part i drive with the window down. yes, when it is cold and raining or what have you. why? partially for smoking purposes, mostly to allow the people who i pass by hear the quality vibes i have on the go. also, if you don't drive around with at least one window down i can only assume that you've not ended up being in a car which has come to be in an unspecified body of water quite as many times as i have.

video of the snow? surely, and if you can make out any music on the soundtrack over the sound of my outrageously tuned engine that's probably a bit of U2.

fortune at least smiled on us today in that the conditions were not of such that enabled or facilitated the snow to lay in a way which it would stay there. it's all too wet and what have you, and with no bed of frost or ice it has nothing to form on or something like that.

indeed that is a yellow and blue bicycle you can see in the video, one of several dotted around the region in celebration of the Tour de Yorkshire. that started today. hope the cyclists have done fine; i am not sure i would fancy twatting about on a bike in this weather wearing only spandex or lycra or something.

still, it means that the days have not been starting with all the merry, bright and gay ways of the sun rays that one would usually associate with this time which should be spring.

the stretch of road you see before me there above is pretty much the bane of my morning travel. it represents the start of about a mile long stretch which features some 7 or 8 sets of traffic lights. also, there's a petrol station to the left which people insist on crossing from the other side of the road to either enter and exit. this would not be so bad if it were Jozi, but here people tend to obey traffic laws and stop at red lights, and also politely stop to let other cars out.

it has been over two years now since i have seen a firearm being waved about as part of a discussion on road etiquette, or as a means of establishing who was in the right in terms of a debate over appropriate driving behaviour. also. i've only seen one crash in that same time. better, yes, and an argument for the benefits of obeying traffic laws, but sometimes it does feel rather boring compared to what i am used to.

a bit more video? sure, why not.

i am ever hopeful, dear reader, that this shall be the last post on this blog about snow until at least november or december. it would be nice - splendid indeed - if warmer weather could now be with us.

let me see if i can do anything interesting over the weekend to share here. doubtful, i know, but i can but try.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

corporate mugs

hi there

i suppose that this could be considered one of them throwback thursday things, look you see, except that it featured relatively modern images and does not feel like all that much of a throwback. still, you are the one reading this, not me, and so far be it from me to stop or question you calling this just whatever it is that you would like to.

over on the more well known of the social media network things i recently, as i am so want and so prone to do, shared an image. it proved, despite my presence in it, to be quite a popular one, but also one which courted some controversy. here, look, you see it for yourself.

yes, that is indeed i with a branded corporate mug from my former, and dearly remembered, place of verk from when i was south of the equator. Nedbank Corporate Transformation Forum i believe is what it says, and presumably it was a gift from that forum at some point. happy days that mine landed in tact and perfectly boxed here at home, then.

weirdly, many a moon ago, i was briefly a member of this forum, or a version of it. i took it as a matter of distinct honour and pride that my colleagues nominated me to be on it, believing me to be not only a fair voice but also one which would not remain silent if something was wrong. i departed from the forum, alas, when it became clear that everyone else sitting on it at the same time was less interested in transformation and rather more interested in looking at the salaries of their colleagues and superiors, "just to check" that all was fair. yeah, right.

whilst one friend, and i am not at all sure Anthea wants me to name her her, mentioned that she hoped that the mug dropped and smashed into one thousand pieces just after this picture was taken. alas it did not, or happily this was not the case. Stefan, a man i consider to this day to still be my personal physician, had what you might call a somewhat more positive reaction, and has responded with this image.

you know i am not 100% sure that i have Stefan's permission to use this picture, but he's some seven thousand miles away, and anyway it is done now.

i note that the mug which they gave Stefan - not that i am jealous or making an issue out of it - is way bigger than the one i have, and has a more softer, friendly tone to it. that said, what i particularly like the most about the above picture, other than seeing a dear friend once more, is that Stefan clearly has the same love and affection for quality French doors what i do.

if for some reason you have found this interesting, scattered all over this blog are tales of me and my mugs, my former verk and indeed Stefan. feel free to search for them; the story where Stefan got twatted by a plant pot and we all stood around laughing rather than helping him is in particular worth reading.

right, that will do, more as and when, dear reader, more as and when.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

s(n)o(w) much for spring, then......


those of you with the peculiar habit of doing so might recall that my most recent entry, so to speak, saw me speak in a most uncouth and rather belligerent manner about my displeasure at snow being present. well, it is the end of April, look you see; a time when the only white one should see on the ground is that of lovely lambs prancing about the meadows all merrily and gay.

the brief interlude of snow we got in the early part of last night was, it turned out, nothing more than a prelude. today was a day which is even later into April than what yesterday was, and this is what greeted me and my eyes not long after i woke.

i can assure you, dear reader, that the above is not some sort of trivial "throwback tuesday" sort of post of a picture from earlier in the year, this was very much what the grounds looked like some twelve hours ago. that be proper snow, that is, of the laying variety.

did i take some video footage of this snow for you? but of course.

there were forecasts which suggested we would get "wintry showers", which is the wording of choice by bureaus these days for snow. i'm not sure why they can't just say "snow" any more, but it doesn't matter i suppose for i, along with many others, ignored such forecasts. it seemed preposterous, a mere three days before the Tour de Yorkshire commences, that we would have snow. but, well, snow is what we got.

that there is indeed the step on which i am found to be stood of a morning, consolidating my thoughts for the day ahead and doing so via the trusted conduit of a cigarette. just how deep is that snow? well, if such calculations are something that appeals to you, here is an image of the same step, only with my boot print on it, or rather in the snow.

not as deep, then, as it could or indeed has been, but then again rather deeper a layer or laying of snow than one would expect with a mere four days left of April ahead of us.

the presence of snow means, of course, the presence of that extra bit of a challenge to driving. the first such challenge would be to rid one's car of the layers of snow.

that picture was taken at around 7:20am, when i was all washed and dressed and ready to rock and roll in respect of another day at verk. whilst i very much was able to engage in verk today, as it transpired it was not within the confines of my usual place of verk, or if you like verk place.

earlier in the year you may remember i was left unable to drive anywhere as the snow was that deep. this time around it wasn't so bad, and i had every confidence that i could get through the roads ok. the first instance of this constance being knocked was a call from Mark. yes, that Mark. my friend, colleague, remover of shoe curses and generally a man of no fear. he called to alert me that i may wish to reconsider driving, as all roads in and around, and indeed to and from, our mutual place of verk were effectively still life portraits of cars.

some more video? certainly.

i thanked Mark profusely for his warning and, most importantly, his care in advising me. it would be unfair to say i disregarded the concern and care, but it is true to say that i did elect to have a go anyway. well, i was dressed and in the car, so why wouldn't i?

my driving lasted some 30 minutes, and did not cover the distance you might think. the unexpected presence of snow had served to cause all sorts of drama, delay, accidents and incidents. as i crawled along i observed other cars - ones better maintained than mine - slipping about. i elected, then to accept the words of Mark as being correct, and found a safe(ish) means of turning around and heading home.

as i engaged in verk from home i bore witness to the further peculiarities of the day today. further snow fell, followed for good measure by some hailstones, or if you like stones of hail. actually, no, hailstones is the only way around that works. by mid-afternoon the much missed sun filled the sky and every trace of what you see above was gone within an hour. i would like to think gone for the season, but alas at this moment in time our sky is filled with the formidable grey shade that brings snow. to that end, a most spectacular, if brief, further hailstone shower has hit us.

all that is left for me at this stage is to hope that the flurry of snow we had over the course of today as a day is a final one for the season. if good fortune smiles upon me, perhaps i will be permitted to engage in verk at my actual place of verk tomorrow, as interesting and as productive as all this "remote access" stuff can be from time to time.

may the skies reflect better on you than they have on me presently.

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

bag bite

hi there

it is, look you see, the last throes of April this very week, and it is f*****g snowing outside right now. most peculiar, most unusual and most unexpected, although you probably worked that out from the rather crass language from me just there.

at this stage of the calendar which we have all come to love and accept we to the north of the equator should be basking in heat, whilst those south of it should be ready for the cold. as far as i can ascertain, it is cold on both sides of the wretched line. who knows, perhaps the new ice age is upon us.

anyway, a new bag for your viewing pleasure.

yes, that is indeed a return to the traditional values of an image in Commodore 64 mode; a format which i love and which has been somewhat sadly absent from here for the last week or so.

what is the bag? well, as i'd like to think you can see, it featured Christopher Lee in arguably his most famous role, which was Dracula out of Dracula in the Hammer Horror movies. this is an official bag featuring an image of that; an image you can see clearer in the next image.

why do i have a bag featuring Dracula, or if you like Christopher Lee? i do not. this bag belongs to my (considerably) better half. it is a net result purchase what i made after doing a bit of business with a continental based gent called Falco. no, not that one, him that sang, as he is dead. and no, most decidedly not that one either; the crap footballer who cannot even spell his name Falco properly, he has an extra a or something in it. a third, alive and somewhat better than at least one of them Falco, then.

it is styled or named as a "record bag", which leads me to believe that one is supposed to use this bag to transport one's records around in. i suspect it will not be used for this purpose, and anyway in the last few posts i have spoken often enough of records.

that's the smart tag on the bag, declaring it official merchandise off of Hammer Films. as if, of course, someone would think to make a bootleg and not think to make a bootleg official tag too. but the provenance of this seems to be quite legit.

provenance and purchase price? off of a seller or store on that eBay thing, and the cost was just ever so slightly south of £8 in real terms coins of money. which, frankly, feels like a bargain. if you so wished to do such a thing, you can click here and see search results for the term 'Dracula Bag' and get one yourself if you like, but you may have to pay more than what i did, sorry.

the quality of this bag is superb. it's some sort of form or variant of leather, i think my (considerably) better half said, but it's all smart and shiny so it would not be leather what came off of a cow. the strap is smart and sturdy, and the bag certainly looks like it could handle all sorts of variations of twelve inches.

what will my (considerably) better half use the bag for if not the transportation of records? it will be used like a quasi-handbag, i suppose, with all sorts of bits of stuffs in it. the bag features two of them "inner pocket" things, one which i believe has a zip, so it's a quite handy and convenient designed thing.

from a marketing perspective this bag is a bit of a "double win", really. i mean, if you happen to like Dracula then you'd like this whether you needed a bag or not. if you needed a bag of some sort, although perhaps with a view to moving records around would be better, then you would look most smart with this one.

more as and when it happens, dear reader, and not a moment before then.

cheers, Falco, if you are reading dude, and i trust you are as happy as what my (considerably) better half is as a consequence of this mystery deal.

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

the conquest of the curse of the silver shoe of hope


some book somewhere, look you see, started off with the words of how one time was totes the best of time yet like also totes the worst of times. will i evoke such a sentiment here? perhaps, but i can most decidedly assure you that i will not echo the quality of that particular work much.

frequent, or if you like regular readers will be aware of the fact that recently i, on my travels, observed a most splendid silver shoe. a little while later i concluded that this silver shoe had cursed me, and left me with an illness that very nearly brought about my death. no more is it the case, dear reader, that this silver shoe will be permitted to strike at either me or any other passer by.

the above represents one of the final times at which one could see the shiny, sparkly silver shoe at the place where it was left to rest. actions have intervened since then, dear reader, and the shoe has been removed. to what new place has it gone, and to whom did the duty fall for the removal? these are things i know, and matters that i shall discuss here, to a certain extent.

Mark, my friend and colleague, removed the shoe. i would like to think that he did this as an act of defence, believing that if it were cursing me and making me ill then it should be removed. i suspect, however, it was rather more the case that he did it as an act of defiance, as for reasons best known to himself he elected to deposit the shoe on my desk at verk. no, this move was most certainly not one which was solicited.

i had really rather hoped to milk this abandoned shoe for at least another two or three blog posts, for it in passing gave me something to write about. Mark has pretty much ruined that now, though, and so i shall just have to observe other things to write of. i shall indeed endeavour to ensure that they are items which are out of the reach of Mark, lest he bring an unnatural end to a story.

perhaps, though, the story of the silver shoe has come to a natural end; it is just one that i had not anticipated as being so. maybe it was always the destiny of it to be scooped up by Mark. i don't know, that's what happened though so maybe.

what the f*** is this picture, you ask? me having a bit of a go at some swingball. i recently shared this image via some sort of social media channel, and as it was quite popular when i did that i thought i might as well load it up here. a similar picture from the same time is also here on this blog somewhere, if for some reason you are interested.

how am i getting on with the legacy of the curse of the silver shoe? for the most part i seem somewhat recovered from whatever illness was brought down upon me by it, which makes me quite grateful. my health was more or less restored before Mark took it upon himself to claim the shoe and deposit it on my desk, so no, let us not be having any claims of praise or credit to him for my dramatic and quite remarkable recovery. i am starting to think that maybe the illness i had was in no way related to any sort of curse, either from a single silver shoe or any other source, but i dare not speak in such terms, lest the curse issuer is aware of it and strikes me down once more.

whilst i would like to believe that Mark acted with the finest, the best and most noble of intentions, there was some remonstration in respect of his actions from other colleagues at work. a very valid point, for instance, was made that the constabulary, or if you like the police, could be seeking out or searching for this shoe in connection with a criminal matter.

also, in starting another paragraph just to wrap the text around the picture, for all we know this shoe was a deliberately left clue in regards of a kidnapping. perhaps interpol, or some private detective, was looking out for this shoe, which is why it was allowed to lay at rest for over a week where it was.

yes, it is true that the most likely explanation for this shoe was that it slipped off the foot of someone, possibly most likely a lady but apparently it is sexist to mention any gender at any time now, whilst they were somewhat too far removed from sobriety to either notice that they had lost it, or even to care about such a  loss. it just makes life more interesting, or perhaps it would be better to say somewhat less boring, to rather try and imagine something of curiosity or worthy of exploring rather than just walking by and thinking nothing more of it. well, it's how i get through the day, at the least.

well, there you go. sadly, then, or perhaps happily, no more shall the silver shoe of hope, or any associated curse, feature here in any new or updated capacity. you are very welcome to look through these three articles and ponder what might have been, but sadly no further stories of it shall be coming.

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

every inch of my love, almost

hello there

oh dear. yes, look you see, i've been doing yet more unpacking. this means that, for those of you brave enough to read on, here we go again with some washing in the nostalgia that is sentimental hygiene. i do hope you stick around and read, but if not that's cool, hope you find something ace elsewhere on the internet.

the boys made a request that yet more boxes get unpacked over this weekend. you'd have thought that we would have everything unpacked by now, what with it all arriving two years ago, but alas no. in fairness most of what is still boxes is my collections of books and things, but there are one or two containers of toys for them to rediscover.

and, in a look for a box or two of toys, i found this box.

yes, indeed it is, if only in ostensible terms, a cardboard box branded by the business parmalat, the purveyors of cheese and certain other, albeit limited, dairy products.

it's unlikely, yet very possible, that what comes to mind for you when you think of parmalat is what comes to mind for me. that would be my mate Fraser, and his ambitious yet ill-fated quest to have a boycott of parmalat products in place. why? it was something to do with the football team Parma, although the specifics escape me. this is Fraser, mind, so it could be just that he considered the team to be a "bunch of c***s" or something like that.

behold, though, for it is not parmalat products that i have in this box. it is not, i would like to think, something that Fraser would call for a boycott of either.

yep, i have a bunch of seven inch singles, or if you like 7" records, stored in this box. all in perfect hibernation, which is to say that they have made it home with me in a perfectly serviceable condition.

this is, as the title somewhat suggests, almost all of my surviving 7" single collection. i have another box full to the brim with my Dad's collection of them from the 60s, 70s and 80s, and my Frankie Goes To Hollywood ones are hidden away in my smart Rage Hard 12" box. but let us worry about what we have here, and tell some stories as we have a bit of a gander at some of them.

i can pretty much remember the story behind every 7" record i have. to that extent, 19 by Paul Hardcastle is one i bought on a trip to town with Mike Llewellyn. we probably went on the Escort bus, and the fare for that will have been 15p or 30p or something. this was just after bus routes got deregulated, and the new competitors were way cheaper that the state sponsored buses; United i think they were called. i am all but certain that this single was bought on one of the first instances that myself and Mike were allowed to go into town on our own, as in without parental supervision. or it might be one of the first instances when we just decided to do that.

the Prince single is the magnificent When Does Cry, with a number called 17 Days on the b-side. this was a gift from the legendary Steven Legget before i went off on one of my adventures around the world. to say more on that subject would kind of undermine the lengthy thing i wrote just a little while ago.

facts about the 7" single? from what i can remember they cost either £1.49 or £1.99 each (at least this was the case in the 80s), although some had a 99p price. for the most part here we went and bought them off of HMV, although an Our Price opened up in the mid-80s. it was the Our Price where i bought my tape of Simple Minds' Once Upon A Time, but that's a story for another day.

you could, however, pretty much buy 7" singles everywhere. WH Smith sold them, as did Woolworths and, as far as i can remember, Boots. also independent record stores, which once we had a fair few of. sales from all of them, i think, counted towards chart positions.

there you go, two examples of fixing the world through the conduit of buying vibes.  i am not sure if this remains the case, but once Do They Know It's Christmas? in its original form by Band Aid was the biggest selling single of all time. i didn't buy this one, though. for Christmas 1984 Mum & Dad got me, Richard and Gillian a copy of this each as part of our Christmas presents. if Mum & Dad had bought us The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood instead it might have helped Frankie and not Band Aid be the Christmas number one, but there you go, everything in retrospect.

Dancing In The Street is closely related to the above, as it was the single released in support of Live Aid, that massive concert in support of the same causes as Band Aid. it sold many copies and stayed at number one for a while. i remember the days well, it feels like everyone felt groovy and just got on with it.

7" singles made an awful lot of coins of money, you know. sometimes it was for good causes like the above, at the time you hoped it was for the musicians but mostly it was for the record label. you had to sell a lot of singles to get into the top ten back then. if a single, for example, sold 200,000 copies, that's something like £300k gross it would make. loads of records sold less than that, but a few sold considerably more.

i was, and indeed still am, quite the fan of movie related musical things. i have quite a collection of film soundtracks, and as you can see that extends to 7" singles what were released in support of a film.

sorry for the bad light on it, but that is indeed the beautiful looking 7" single that is We Don't Need Another Hero by Tina Turner, off of the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack. great film, i remember my Mum taking me to see it at the Odeon. Tina Turner was ace in it, i never quite understood why she didn't do more film work after this one. maybe she just didn't like the experience.

Live It Up by Mental As Anything was pleasing for many reasons. other than being a great song, it gave a band i loved in Australia in the early 80s an audience in England and around the world. it's sometimes easy to forget just what a bloody massive film Crocodile Dundee was. i don't have the facts at hand, but i seem to think it was the biggest money maker of the year it was released, and indeed is in the top ten (or thereabouts) of money making movies of the decade.

what stopped the seven inch single from continuing to be a licence to print coins of money? technology, but not what you think. in the mid to late 80s we got petulant. we loved and embraced this new compact disc technology, and we wanted everything on compact disc not vinyl. and so the cd single was born. i have a stack of them, too, somewhere.

a cd single cost between £2.99 and £4.99, featured better quality recordings that were unlikely to scratch and, until the chart officials stepped in to curtail it, generally gave you more minutes of music than what was contained on either the 7" and the 12" or a record combined. from what i remember, when the chart people clocked that labels were stuffing cd singles with vibes to make them high value for money, any cd single which had a running length of over 20 minutes was excluded from sales.

it's not just today that celebrities get their whims and egos indulged, you know. that Bruce Willis was granted his wish of a musical recording career, as illustrated by the two singles above, shows that there was always a time when the famous and the celebrated were allowed to do pretty much whatever they wanted, irrespective of any talent or ability they may have.

the scary thing about the Bruce Willis music career, if it is indeed scary, is that these two cover versions were released as singles before the film Die Hard came out. i mean, yeah, Bruce Willis was a pretty well known actor through the TV series Moonlighting, but he was not the grade a box office star at this stage/

from what i remember Bruce Willis made it a very open secret that he wished to play Mr Sinatra in a film of his life, and would play the part for free. if these records were released as some sort of ambitious effort to audition for such a project, well, now you know exactly why there was never a biopic of Mr Sinatra with Bruce Willis in the titular role.

yeah, everyone has things lurking in their record collection that you cannot deny the history of.

what the hell was i thinking when i bought My Favourite Waste Of Time by Owen Paul? i think Nicky Sinclair asked such a question at the actual time i bought it, and i believe he bought an early Whitney Houston single at the time i got this. what i was thinking was probably that girls were a very nice thing after all, and that this was the sort of record that girls liked, and if i owned it then maybe the girls would like me.

i remain to this day proud of the fact that i bought this single by Stefan Dennis. it is a disgrace that his music career was the least successful of all the people off of Neighbours who made records. i mean, sure, he's no Jason Donovan or Kylie, but he was still smart. look at that pouting on the sleeve, man.

other than the cd single, the other piece of technology what killed the single as a seven inch concern was the advent of mobile phones. a convincing theory i once read was that the kids, from the mid to late 90s onwards, stopped buying music, instead using their disposable income (pocket money) on funds so that they could send text messages to their friends off of their smart Nokia phones.

Levi, or if you like Levi's, elected to flog their 501 brand jeans by shoving a male model in a bath whilst wearing them, and have Wonderful World by Sam Cooke play as a soundtrack. the effect of this is that we all wanted to own Levi's 501s as we would look as cool as the lad in the bath and the girls would date us, and many of us wanted to own the song off the advert, which at the time also featured on the soundtrack of the film Witness. i seem to remember that Wonderful World got to number one as a consequence, a move that saw a great many 60s Motown and soul singles get reissued. for me, it kicked down a door to some music i had not heard of.

just for the sake of it, pictured there is my copy of the 7" of Skin Trade off of Duran Duran, which came with a free fold out poster of the then 3 members of the band. sorry, no picture of the fold out - i am not giving Simon le Bon any more free advertising until he stops imitating my look.

a freebie with a 7" single was a bit of a sales gimmick. another such sales gimmick was, of course, the prized possession in any collection, a picture disc.

that 7" picture disc of Miami Vice Theme by Jan Hammer is, i think, the closest i have to one of my singles from the 80s having any sort of serious value in terms of coins of money, and even then not that much. i would never part with it, but i believe that this record goes for around £20 or so.

the Superman II picture disc is one that you might think would be worth a bit, but not so much. this is off of Australia, and no doubt Dad bought it for me. despite having an image of General Zod on the back, usually copies of this sell for south of £5. i think they produced quite a few copies, and they're still in circulation out there.

are there any really very valuable 7" singles? yes and no. acetates and white label test pressings usually fetch a lot of money, but it's not like you could have ever bought them in HMV or Our Price. standard released 7" singles seem not to be as big a market as the vinyl lp one. you would think there might be, as there are some 7" singles which ob the b-side feature songs that never made it on to an album, or onto a CD reissue. there's a few by The Beatles, The Stones, The Who and so on that this is true of.

the last decade or so has seen something of a vinyl revival. this has been mostly related to vinyl lps being sold, but for a while the 7" single made a welcome return. the next few, last pictures are of some examples of these from over the last ten years. 

as and when, or rather when, seven inch singles started to surface once more in the early to mid 00s, there was not really much in the way of an intention to make hundreds of thousands of coins of money off them. i think they, for the most part, got issued for the novelty factor for collectors, and to indulge the wishes of artists that the record labels considered worth indulging. hence these picture disc / transparent offerings off of Ian Brown and Morrissey.

man, i miss new music off of Ian Brown. the end, or in his words "parking", of his solo career was part of the price we had to pay for the restoration of The Stone Roses. just something we've had to live with, but i am rather delighted to hear that, truly, The Stone Roses are recording new music and will presumably be releasing it soon, what with them having mega-gigs ahead of us all in June. as for the Morrissey, well, here's the modern world - a man who was made famous for speaking his mind is now routinely dismissed or put down for speaking his mind. funny what happens with free speech; everyone absolutely loves it so long as it says exactly what you want to hear.

in terms of indulging musicians - and fans - i do find the whole idea of not physically owning and touching music quite depressing. i know these download things are all the more convenient, easier and profitable for the record label, but it drains the emotion out of it. we are tactile creatures, after all. for that reason, i suppose, the very worst 7" single i own will always be dearer to me than the very best mp3 i have ever downloaded, as there's a story attached to buying the single. who cares or who remembers when you downloaded something?

beyond the beauty of artwork and design, a physical copy of music also allows for other things to happen. like, for instance, the artist signing them.

no, sadly, i did not meet any of the artists above. these were purchased signed off of a website called Record Store, one that i am very delighted to see as being still very much on the go. yeah, kids of today, you go and get James Dean Bradfield off of the Manics or Brett Anderson off of the Suede to sign "an internet" or a memory stick, see how cool that is.

the technology that reduced the seven inch single to a marketing novelty in the end was, of course, the internet. downloads, whether legal or illegal, were cheaper, easier and more convenient for the kids to get and listen to. for the record labels they are a potential goldmine, as you don't have to press extra copies of an mp3.

i would suspect - hope, imagine - that just as i find the idea of not physically owning music depressing, so too musicians find it really rather sad to have no physical product in their hands after recording something.

not that digital downloads are bad. the way the world going is one which shows that both can exist. the sale of lps on vinyl is increasing year on year, whilst a survey suggested that less than 50% of people who buy records ever actually play the record. i am guessing that they are buying the record so that they can truly feel like they "own" it, but for convenience just play the downloaded version, since i believe albums are released with a "digital download code" enclosed.

some pretty, coloured vinyl there for you to finish off. the pink one is a "double a side", featuring Duran Duran's recording of David Bowie's Boys Keep Swinging on one side, and Carla Bruni's audacious recording of David Bowie's Absolute Beginners on the other. from what i remember there were 500 copies of the record issued in pink, 500 in another colour and 500 in regular black vinyl. luck of the draw that i got the pink version, i had no choice. the gold one is Another Way To Die off of Jack White and Alicia something, with it being the theme to the Bond film Quantum Of Solace. i happened to like both the theme and the film, but appreciate that many did not in either instance.

the generation today, these f*****g millenials that i often write so fondly of, actually seem to do just mighty fine without the need to take a lengthy bus ride in order to go and buy eight or so minutes of music that you can only listen to in your house on a stereo. that's totes cool, man, and no way would i ever argue in a general sense that the way i, we, did it was "better". i can but hope that the memories i have from these records are matched in memories they carve out and craft for themselves via other avenues.

and there we have it. i note over the last week or so the actual number of blog posts what i have done has dropped off, but yet these that i do seem far longer than normal. i trust that all sort of balances out for you somehow!

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

what once was and what will never be again


and so here we are once more. this year is hungry, look you see. it hungers for circles to be formed, for lines to be drawn. this year wants us to know there's no going back. and i don't know if that's what we are sad for, what we lament, but i am quietly confident that this is what makes me sad.

my generation is, weirdly, facing something which our parents haven't yet had to do. we're being confronted with the death of our idols, those lone figures who stood so high they cast a formidable shadow right across our formative years. i mean, sure, certain legends of the 60s have passed away, but the legacy always remains. we have, for instance, virtually all of The Stones alive, 50% of The Beatles and 50% of The Who, along with The Kinks and many others. but just as there was only one Bowie for us to lose, so too was there only one Prince.

the provenance of the above portrait of Prince? June 1989. it's done in pen on a white shirt. i know this as it is my white shirt; it is the one i wore on the last day of what was then Comprehensive school, and it is the one that everyone who was of a mind to do so wrote on.

the artist? Steven Legget. as the story of Prince is not mine to tell, i would imagine this blog post shall mostly be a take of Steven Legget, which is quite handy as i am led to believe that there are people out there who quite like it when he features here. yes, i know, it's strange that there are people out there who quite like this blog, but there you go.

indeed, Steven Legget is the handsome, decent one stood up at the back. surely this picture has been on this blog before, but here it is once more. and yes, probably, that is likely to be the shirt i have on there which has been adorned by the picture of Prince, along with several accusations involving me and sheep.

my first encounter with Prince was probably the film Risky Business, as the song DMSR featured on the soundtrack. after that it was probably the time he was on the Brit Awards (or similar), and the only reason i remember that was because Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood (as in, the Holly Johnson) introduced him with a reference to wishing to have sexual relations with him. whenever i am asked, though, and weirdly i've been asked more than you might think, i just say it was Steven Legget that introduced me to him. in a sense he did, as it was only through him that i really came to discover the music.

it kind of baffles me as to why Steven ever latched on to me as a friend. i'm glad that he did, though, although he's probably baffled as to why too. probably a shared sense of passions that were outside of the mainstream, and a will to stick with and follow what you love no matter what the trends were. a shared sense of humour too, certainly.

an abiding memory was a summer - for all abiding memories have a summer background - in which Steven went everywhere with an armful of Prince records. again, this is not my story to tell, but from what i remember a debt which was owed to an elder sibling of his was paid for in Prince records. these were records Steven decided to have a spin of, fell in love with, and subsequently adopted. and so that summer it was to be that everywhere he went, every friend or house visited, was somewhere to take Prince records and play them for the people.

this is the main display window of HMV today. this was taken at lunchtime. i went along to see what sort of tribute or arrangement they had made for Prince.

they hadn't. it's still all Star Wars in the window, and inside they were not even playing any Prince music. a reason for this? we shall perhaps get to this later.

a bit of video to break things up? sure, why not. one of my all time favourite Prince songs of all time is Raspberry Beret. i love the music as it's just supremely feel good. i love the lyrics because they are all looking back and reflecting on happier times. i am pretty sure that Guns N Roses stole the concept of both the music and the lyrics off of this for Sweet Child O Mine.

what i love most about that bit of video is the synchronized movements. that's some awesome choreography, that is, in the days before you could just "fix" things like the timing of people moving with a computer. we used to joke that all of them made sure that best they move and dance as Prince instructed or Prince would beat them. on a serious note, it just, to me, creates this wonderful sense of belonging, of being a part of something.

that's been a big draw on most if not all of the musicians i have loved over the years, probably. that sense they give me of not being quite alone. bands that were not in the limelight all of the time, but ones which attracted like minded people who were, by and large, pretty isolar, but yet felt not as isolated as they should because they knew they connected with music that others did too. examples? Prince, for certain, along with a Stone Roses, a Bowie, a Frankie Goes To Hollywood, a Talking Heads, Smiths too. bands and artists that at one stage were the biggest thing in the world, but retained a smattering of fans in the leaner times.

some people have a bizarre idea that i am a collector because i happen to buy all the stuff that my favourite artists release. that's flattering, but it just makes me a dedicated fan. a collector in the purest sense is Steven Legget. back in a time when there was no internet and no easy way to obtain rare or unreleased stuff, he trawled record fairs, adverts in music newspapers and anywhere he could think of to get his hands on rare Prince stuff. he paid a small fortune for a bootleg of the infamous Black Album bootleg, and a similar hefty amount of coins of money for a really badly dubbed VHS of various TV appearances Prince had made. he also obtained tape after tape after tape of unreleased recordings.

he shared it all with me and any other friend interested, of course. it was cool. i remember one bootleg in particular was awesome. it was called There Are Others Here With Us, and it was this really spooky thing, like a ghost house of a song. also, we got to hear Prince do Nothing Compares 2 U long before Sinead O'Connor eventually made it famous.

i eventually, fleetingly, ended up on other sides of the world to where Steven Legget was. for the most part, though, i was able to attract friends who were as appreciative of Prince as i had come to be. there was Shaun for a start. Olivia too, Zizandi perhaps. and no doubt many others who, i am so very sorry to say, the names of have escaped me. quite recently i had the distinct honour of making friends with the first person i ever met who was probably an even bigger fan that Steven was; yes Louise if you're reading that's you, and my heart goes out to you.

the love of Prince extended through my family some, as my dear brother has reminded me that my Lovesexy lp was the first one that he ever took and made a tape of without me knowing he had "borrowed" one of my prized records. i think my VHS of the Lovesexy tour, broadcast from Paris, was also one of the few video tapes that he didn't elect to record over with something.

but, you know, however dear anyone else was or was not to me, for me Prince was always, always, always about listening to Steven Legget's somehow obtained collection of his records, and of course buying whatever new releases came along and discovering them with him.

HMV are, i assumed, not presently arsed about celebrating or paying tribute to Prince right now as, unlike as was the case with Bowie, they are not sat with stock of his records to offer to sell to the kids. as far as i could work out they only had a copy of Purple Rain to offer for sale.

perhaps - maybe - next week they will stock up and have a wider selection of his recordings at the ready for those who wish to buy something to remember him by. strangely, now that i think on, Purple Rain was probably one of the first non-Frankie Goes To Hollywood CDs i bought, back in 1987 when recent records started to surface on the new format. i pikced up 1999 too, a strange version that has DMSR omitted so as to fit the whole else rest of the double album on one disc.

my favourite all time Prince record of all time? hard to say. Raspberry Beret is a contender, for sure, but make no mistake, the Sign O The Times album is where greatness resides. off that record, i always loved I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man - the stark, naked pleading honesty of the lyric delivery and the awesome guitar. also, The Cross. the latter is, i suppose, the song that taught me it was ok to believe in whatever i in my heart wanted to believe in with no fear or concern for any consequence of that.

but that early stuff of his, man. the raw sex, the ultra funk, and the amazing bass. yeah, go on then, in Camcorder mode, let's have a bit of Dirty Mind.

the passing of Price is, to me, sad because it puts the full stop firmly at the end of memories. they are memories which were pretty much closed anyway, you know, what with them being 20 or so years ago for the most part. there was always a sense of not so much unfinished to them as there was open ended, as if those days could once again be lived, revelled in perhaps.

i will, as ever, leave it to that Twerker thing, and other places on the internet, for platitudes and praise for Prince, declaring him the greatest ever, how we will never see his likes again, how his passing is the worst thing to ever happen to someone, etc. i'm just a simple fan very grateful for the soundtrack he gave to some wonderful memories i have.

those who create our memories, all who add an aspect, they come and they go. sometimes for a while, sometimes forever. the memory, however, remains always, so long as we do.

may u live 2 see the dawn