Monday 29 October 2018

Nine lives...

I know, nothing for nearly three weeks and then two posts in one day, but...

...if, by chance, you didn't watch Inside No. 9 Live on BBC2 last night, you must remedy that with iPlayer. MUST. It won't have quite the same effect, not being live, but even so... Go watch.

A message... the silver-haired lady in the blue Audi who tried to park her car next to mine. Who tried and failed, putting a crease in my bumper and leaving a nice line of blue paint to highlight it. Who got out of her car to inspect the damage to my car. And who got back in her car and just drove away, leaving no details.

Up yours, lady.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Fire one more torpedo, baby

I've been a miserable old sod lately. I know, even more than usual, which takes some doing. And with no good reason, not really. I've been thinking, you see, about possibly undertaking a huge physical and mental challenge in eleven months time. It's an exciting prospect, and it really ought to fill me with excitement and optimism.

And, in part, it does. Because, without going into the specifics (see how non-committal I'm being, even here), if I were to undertake and achieve this challenge, well, it would be quite something. Something that most people never do. Something to look back on when I'm old(er) and grey(er). Something for my child to remember, with pride and maybe even amazement, when I am gone. I don't know if it would qualify as a life-changing experience, but I can see how it might be in that neighbourhood, a tiny bit.

So why haven't I signed up already?

There are so many reasons, nearly all of them things that wouldn't have crossed my mind twenty years ago. Time is one. From March onwards, I would have to give up a lot of time to train: whole mornings at first, then whole days, then whole weekends. Oh, and evenings too. That's a lot of time, especially when my time is not all my own these days. Time is the biggest overhead I have at this stage of my life - I am, as the saying goes, time poor. Cash poor too, of course, and that's another problem - there is a financial cost to this challenge. More accurately, there are a number of financial costs to this challenge. Without doing the maths in detail, I would probably spend somewhere between two and a half to three grand on this, more if I couldn't raise the associated sponsorship target and had to make up the shortfall myself. And again, my money is not all my own these days, especially when I've got half an eye on the fact that I'll probably need to buy a new car in four years time.

The biggest reason though, bigger than these two massive considerations, is the fact that I am not the man I was twenty years ago. I know, I know, who is, right? But I have genuine concerns about my ability to complete the challenge, however much I train and however much I invest in fancy kit to help me. And here's the thing, the real nub, the fly in the ointment, the biggest issue: if I sign up, and invest so much into the effort, only to break down partway through the challenge, to fail, I am not at all sure how well I'd handle that. I fear it might be not very well at all.

And no, this isn't just me being a pessimist, and thinking the worst - there's a real chance I couldn't complete the challenge, that my arthritic knee would rebel, that my glass hip would flare up, or simply that my late-forties body just couldn't keep going. Again, who is, but I am not as physically strong, flexible or durable as I was. Mentally, I'm stronger. But for this challenge, I think you'd need both kinds of strength, especially if the weather's inclement.

So at the moment I'm vacillating, oscillating wildly, making lists of pro's and con's. And am still undecided.

If you're wondering where the title for this post comes from, it's this entirely appropriate slice of Kiwi brilliance:

Monday 8 October 2018

On my radio

Britain's first (legal) commercial radio station, LBC, went on air on this day in 1973, breaking the BBC's 50-year radio monopoly.

This excellence came along six years later.

Sunday 7 October 2018

Humphrey bumphrey

Vladimir Putin was born on October 7th. Christ. So was Simon Cowell. Double Christ!

Luckily for us all, so was Thom Yorke.

Friday 5 October 2018


Life is all about roles, isn't it? Sometimes you're Peter, sometimes you're Lois and sometimes you're Giant Chicken.

Family Guy is sometimes derided as crass, offensive, Simpsons-lite nonsense. But there's real pathos here, I think.

Contractually obliged

Since it was first broadcast on this day 49 years ago, I was a bit too young for Monty Python first time around. My brother though, a crucial four years older than me, had their Contractual Obligation Album. That's what I remember.

It's all here. Knock yourselves out. My favourites? Sit On My Face, Finland, I'm So Worried and the bookshop sketch. Your mileage may vary.

Coincidentally, contractually obliged is how I feel about blogging about the moment, hence these "on this day" posts. Sorry.

Thursday 4 October 2018

Satellite of love

No blogging mojo at all so, in honour of the fact that Sputnik became the first man-made object in space on this day 61 years ago, here's a song by the artist formerly known* as Morrissey.

* Now mostly known by a series of unpleasant names as a result of opening his mouth without engaging his brain, once, twice, a dozen times too often. Oh Moz, please come back.

Monday 1 October 2018

Cryptic clue time ... the answers

Last week, I posted a music crossword: 152 (count 'em!) clues of varying difficulty - some cryptic, some anagrams, some straightforward. I hoped it might be a fun test, albeit a test that would be easier if you knew my taste in music and/or were a regular reader of the blog.

Anyway, a week is quite long enough to mull over a crossword, so here's the solution. There are no prizes but hey, by all means have a kudos point for every answer you got right.

The clueThe answer
1Political writings, sort of (7,7)Scritti Politti is pretty close to scritti politici, Italian for political writings.
3They loved different lengths of tape (3,3,3)C30, C60, C90, Go was a hit for Bow Wow Wow.
5He was in a NY state of mind (5,4)Billy Joel sang New York State Of Mind.
12Eternal funk now, from singer (6,8)A straight anagram for Newton Faulkner.
13Had an eye to the telescope (1,1,8)Eye To The Telescope was the debut album for K T Tunstall.
15They should have reformed to cover Candy Girl (5)...because candy is a type of Sweet.
19Cuddly brothers and their band (7)The McNamara brothers fronted Embrace.
23Not big from the neck up (3,5,5)The Small Faces, obviously
26Doing us all a favour on the radio (6,7,12)How else would you describe Public Service Broadcasting?
29They promised that things could only get better (1,4)D-Ream sang this, and were memorably hijacked by New Labour in the process.
33Strange ____, bitches' ____ (4)Brew completes these titles, for a Cream song and Miles Davis album respectively.
35She was torn (7,9)Torn remains the lovely Natalie Imbruglia's biggest hit.
36Shortened tune (3,10)Appropriate anagram for The Undertones.
37Danté’s favourite band (3,6,6)He wrote The Divine Comedy.
39Lawrence’s soft material (4)Lawrence was the frontman of indie nearly-men Felt.
40Not a dick (4)I.e. Moby, without the Dick.
42Unicycles the lot (3,5,7)Another anagram, this time for The Style Council.
45Play cricket for a beating (3,3,6)If you play cricket, you may bat. A beating may be lashes. So Bat For Lashes.
46Extra dinosaur loses indefinite article (1,3)Extra - the indefinite article a = extr, easily re-arranged as dinosaur (and band) T-Rex.
47Left waterhole to fly high (4,9)An oasis might be a waterhole. Who left them and formed the High-Flying Birds? Noel Gallagher.
48The girl kept dry (7)Rihanna had an Umbrella. Ella. Ella.
49“I like ___ ____,” she said, sticking her tongue in my ear (3,4)From a Pixies lyric (I've Been Tired), this is Lou Reed.
52All points west (5)A not-very-good clue for Mr West himself, Kanye.
56They went from Guildford to Japan (3,6)The Vapors came from Guildford and sang Turning Japanese.
57A wild rose grew from his bad seeds (4,4)A hit and the backing band for Nick Cave.
58They asked Johnny Dee (3,13)Ask Johnny Dee was a minor indie hit for The Chesterfields.
61Empty stomach? (9)If you had an empty stomach, maybe your belly would echo; you'd be an Echobelly.
66Guitarist urinates (5)Former G'n'R axeman Slash.
67Crikey, it’s the rozzer! (6,8)Rozzer being an under-used Nineties nickname for Gene frontman Martin Rossiter.
69Palindromic root vegetables (4)A root vegetable might be a swede. The only palindromic Swedes I could think of were Abba.
71Requires antihistamine (5)A wasp Sting might require some cream.
72_____ Washington (5)A straightforward clue for Dinah Washington.
74Tree feeders (5)Belly had a hit with Feed The Tree.
75Richard _____, one-time drummer with 105D (5)Richard Ploog was the drummer with 105 Down, that being The Church.
76Norfolk girls show no respect for their elders (4,3,7)They can't do, given their name of Let's Eat Grandma.
78When Bernard met Brett … again (3,5)Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson reunited, post-Suede, to form The Tears.
79Trap dry owl? (5,5)An anagram of World Party.
80Definite, definite article (3,3)The definite article is the, so definite, definite suggests The The.
81A confrontation (3,5)I was running out of inspiration at this point. Hopefully confrontation suggested The Clash.
84Lettuce and tomato (5)...are components of a Salad.
86They made no criminal records (3,6)A cringeworthy pun about The Police.
87Ordains as a singer? (5,4)Ordains as being an anagram for Diana Ross.
89Took a tumble (3,4)Obviously, The Fall.
92Sweetest trip for half a zebra (5,7)Half a zebra would be just the White Stripes, which happens to also be an anagram of sweetest trip.
94Milkshake vendor (5)Kelis' milkshake brought all the boys to the yard.
97First man and a killer yoghurt? (7)Adam was the first man, allegedly. Ski make nice yoghurt. Killer was a hit for Adamski.
98Left Deptford by the underground (5,7)Squeeze came from Deptford. After leaving them, Jools Holland emerged to front The Tube, another name for the underground.
99Always correcting their own lyrics (7)Because that's what Editors do!
100His dad has a new suitcase (5,5)Papa's got a brand new bag, sang James Brown.
101Not a hard amoeba (4,4)Instead, a Soft Cell.
103Oye Esteban, indeed (10)If not (Steven) Morrissey, then perhaps (Esteban) Mexrrissey?
104Stretchy first letter (8)This would be an elastic A. Or Elastica.
106I get caught up in her hair (7)He hair might be blonde; mix in an I and you get Blondie.
107The males gave birth in this band (3,9)Name an animal where the males give birth? Did you just name The Seahorses?
109Sang 'Between John and Yoko' (4)Between John and Yoko was a song by obscure Swedish indie nearly-men Easy.
111Angry Billy (4)Not just angry but furious, was Billy Fury.
112Others have moves like him (4,6)Maroon 5 sang about having moves like Mick Jagger.
115Half audible (9)Half implies semi. Audible implies sound which implies sonic. So Semisonic.
117Rubbish music (7)Rubbish might be Garbage.
122Sang about matches (3,7)Matches start fires. The Prodigy had a hit with Firestarter.
123Sounds like roe and muntjac (3,5)Roe and muntjac are deer(s), which sounds like The Dears.
126Twin research facilities (9)Twin implies stereo, research facility implies lab. Hence Stereolab.
127With rabbit breeders, on this beach? (4)Martha and the Muffins sang about Echo Beach, hopefully also suggested by rabbit breeding Bunnymen.
128He felt safe, stuck in traffic (4,5)Here in my car, I feel safest of all, sang Gary Numan.
130A definite sphere (3,3)The is the definite article. A sphere is an orb. See how my brain works yet? This is The Orb.
131This band are walked all over (8)If you're British, you walk on the Pavement.
133Two beards and a beard (1,1,3)Two thirds of Z Z Top had beards, and the other third's surname was Beard.
136He liked his OJ… (5,7)Who would like Orange Juice more than Edwyn Collins?
137…but Shaun preferred a darker drink (5,5)That's Shaun Ryder, who clearly preferred Black Grape.
138English prog rockers, sound Eastern (4)How far east? Asia!
139They had the first base for la renard (2,7)La renard is French for the fox. First might be alpha. All leading to Fox Base Alpha, by St Etienne.
140Model heathens? (3,10)Haven't had an anagram for a while. Here's one for The Lemonheads.
141Ancient Mexican Leica (5,6)Could only be an Aztec Camera, right?
142Michael Fish and Billy Giles (3,7,8)Weather forecasters or, if you prefer, The Weather Prophets.
143___ A, Real Gone ___ (3)Kid completes the Radiohead album title and Deacon Blue single.
1Trains rely on it (7)Trains lie on Sleepers.
2Little dog goes from Oz to Africa (4)The dog in the Wizard of Oz was Toto, who sang about Africa.
4Lupine, down the rabbit hole (4,5)Lupine suggests wolf, down the rabbit hole suggests Alice. Hence Wolf Alice.
6Arthur Lee’s 60s band (4)A straight clue, for Arthur's band Love.
7Composer Philip _____ (5)Another straight clue, for Mr Glass.
8Blue _____, _____ Jam (5)Pearl completes the names of these two acts.
9Everything but the girl (3,4)Ben Watt was everything but the girl in EBTG.
10They had a cardiac groove (4,4)Who said groove was in the heart? Deee-Lite!
11High powered song by 34D (3)With 34 Down being Wings, this would be Jet.
14Lots of TIAs (3,7)A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is a mini stroke. So lots of them might be The Strokes.
16The bookmakers? (3,5)Not, not Ladbrokes. This is The Coral.
17Wide screen film format (8)Cinerama was a widescreen process that used three synchronized 35 mm projectors. It's also Gedge's other band.
18Sounds like they record in a shed (5)This would be Shack, which sounds like a shed, of course.
20Rosy Keith? (4,5)Rosy suggests pink. Keith might be Keith Floyd. So Pink Floyd.
21Home to Mick before he joined the council (3,6,6)Before Mick Talbot was a member of The Style Council, he was in Mod revivalists The Merton Parkas.
22Plain rude (3,7)How else would you describe Bad Manners?
24Luxuriant 4AD band (4)Luxuriant-sounding Lush were signed to 4AD.
25Had to get the best out of them (3,7)It wasn't until Pete Best had been kicked out that The Beatles really took off.
26Debuted with equines (5,5)Horses was the debut album from Patti Smith.
27Family business for alchemists (8,8)Alchemists would use lots of chemicals, so the family business might be Chemical Brothers.
28Late queen (6,8)The late Aretha Franklin was the Queen of Soul.
30Just playing at being a band (3,10)Playing at might be pretending, hence The Pretenders.
31Just playing at video games (4,3,3)Video Games being the breakout hit for Lana Del Rey.
32A certain Mr Yorke’s quartet (5,3,5)A Thom's four-piece. Or Atoms For Peace.
34The band The Beatles could have been (5) how Alan Partridge described Wings.
38All About ___ (3)Eve completes this band name.
41To the end… the focused bit (9,5)Francoise Hardy guested on To The End by unfocused-sounding Blur.
43Not us (4)If not us, then Them.
44They were out of their brilliant mind (9)Brilliant Mind was the biggest hit for the criminally under-rated band Furniture
47She wanted to kiss the pope … of mope (5,7)Nancy Sinatra covered the Morrissey track Let Me Kiss You.
50Positively prog! (3)Yes would be both positive and a prog band.
51Total blockhead (3,4)Ian Dury fronted The Blockheads.
53Loudon or Martha (10)They're a musical lot, the Wainwrights.
54A good source of vitamin C and anti-oxidants (3,11)Yes, The Cranberries were pretty good for you.
55Chris, guitarist in 106A (5)With 106 Across being Blondie, guitarist Chris must be Stein.
59Nothing ever happened for them (3,6)Nothing ever happens, sang Del Amitri.
60The pretenders (10)Not The Pretenders, but another bunch of Charlatans.
62Beloved of cannibals (8)Apparently some cannibal tribes called human meat longpig. Hence Longpigs.
63They were upstairs at Eric’s (5)...that being the title of an album by Yazoo.
64He sold the heat (6,6)Buster, he sold the heat, sang Madness, the Buster in question being the fabulous Prince Buster.
65_____ Basie (5)An easy gap to fill, with Count.
67No nut allergies for these boys (7)Madness were sometimes known as The Nutty Boys.
68Easy as 1-2-3 for Sheffield band (1,1,1)What was easy as 1-2-3? A-B-C, of course!
70Main enema for singer? (5,4)Slightly unpleasant anagram for Aimee Mann.
73Cold relations of 114D (6,7)With 114 Down being Gorillaz, their cold relations must be Arctic Monkeys.
74They scratched in a spiral motion (9)The debut EP from Buzzcocks was called Spiral Scratch.
76Indie rockers from Duluth (3)A straightforward description of Low.
77Not gone up in smoke (3)After the fire, what hasn't gone up in smoke is the Ash.
82A bashful, manic filth (4,3,4,7)Straight anagram for Half Man Half Biscuit.
83Stylish dance act (4)Stylish and dance act hopefully both suggest Chic.
85Did she lament for Stan? (4)Dido's Lament is an aria by Purcell, and Eminem sampled Dido for Stan.
88Amusements up in smoke? (6,4)You find amusements in an arcade and there's no smoke without fire, so Arcade Fire.
90Not the 80's TV alien (6,5)Alf was the 80's TV alien, and also a nickname for Alison Moyet.
91Jenny was a friend of theirs (3,7)So sang The Killers.
93You might expect this band to grow in number (3,8)Because they're called The Breeders, you see? I don't just throw this together, you know.
95___ Vicious (3)Although I did throw this fill-in-the-gap clue together. Sid Vicious, obviously.
96Full-on vocals (8)Full-on suggests ultra, vocals suggest vox. Ultravox, in other words.
102Relatives of 114D? (3,7)More relatives of Gorillaz? This time it's The Monkees.
105Take a pew to listen to this band (3,6)Where do you take a pew? In The Church.
107Test version of a group (3,4,4)In software, a test release is called a beta version. Hence, The Beta Band.
108Former president on Viagra? (6,1,1,1)Jimmy Carter made priapic would be Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, or Carter USM.
110They were on my radio (8)On my radio, sang Selecter.
113Ropey Norfolk indie also-rans (4)Props if you got this. Hopefully ropey suggested Cord to you.
114Monkey men (8)Gorillaz, of course.
115They would write crossword cluze (5)Slade were famed for such mis-spelling.
116Label for early Suede releases (4)Their early records were on Nude.
117Stick a bottle in the face of casino town (9)You might glass Vegas? Terrible clue for Glasvegas.
118He had a satanic hairstyle (4)Beck sang about a devil's haircut.
119Dangerous, their drab light (6)The debut album by Mansun was Attack Of The Grey Lantern.
120 He played a wicked game (5,5)Wicked Game was the biggest hit for Chris Isaak.
121Chilly theatre? (8)Chilly = cold. Theatre = play. Coldplay.
124Spanish archer? (5)El Bow? No, Elbow.
125A band with oomph, with energy (3,5)Oomph and energy both suggesting The Verve.
129From deadly comedy to in-demand producer (5)Producer Youth used to be in Killing Joke.
132Go to Oxford by bike (4)Ride were from Oxford, you see.
134Metal but thin, not heavy (4)Wire is a thin strip of metal.
135Sadly spliced in 2004 (4)Because that's when Gene sadly disbanded.

And that's it? How did you do?

Here's a picture, for those that like pictures.

Same time next year? Maybe...?