Something for the Weakened

Archive for 2006


December 30th, 2006 by

One of my co-habitants has removed my shower curtain in what I assume is an attempt to wash the hair colouring off it (not mine, I hasten to add). This meant no curtain when I went up to shower not one half of an hour ago. It also gave me the opportunity to watch myself showering in a large mirror for the first time ever. This has led me to one inevitable conclusion. I have a huge arse. I’m probably going to need years of counselling to get over this astounding revelation, but I suppose that admitting it is the first step on the road to mental well being and, if I’m lucky, a smaller arse. If any of you are also afflicted with collosal arses (and frankly, I know that most of you are), please do get in contact. We could start a help movement or something. That or hire each other out as bouncy castles.

Quick Light Note

December 26th, 2006 by

Thought I’d keep this seperate from the post below, what with it’s inherent glumness. Just to say that my e-mail is up, running and well again. Please feel free to bombard me with all manner of crap starting . . . now!


December 26th, 2006 by

I can’t remember when I first heard the music of James Brown, so ingrained into my psyche as it is. Being born in 1977 it’s entirely possible that it was one of the first pieces of music I ever heard, but my memory can neither confirm nor deny this. I do on the other hand recall the time when I realised that he was funkiest man alive. I must have been about fifteen, just about to turn sixteen. As with most kids of that age I was meeting new people, trying new things. Unlike most kids of that age, contemporary music was anathema to me and I had no interest in it whatsoever, preferring to spend my time listening to sixties psychedelia or seventies prog. But in meeting these new people, one was instrumental in changing these perceptions.

His name was Fred.

He introduced me to funk.

I was given a cassette – something like seven or eight generations from the original vinyl, which changed the way I heard music forever. Rather than listening to how spectacular a guitar solo was, whether a drummer was using a double pedal, if a bassist was absurdly pedestrian, I instead found myself observing the groove of songs, being amazed at the difference a single horn toot could make to the feel of something, in love with wah-wah pedals. The compilation was called ‘Sho’ is Funky’. I still have it to this day (really should make a copy as I’d be lost if it snapped). The first song on it is called ‘Blow Your Head’. It is by James Brown.

As I say, it wasn’t the first song of his I ever heard. The first time I heard it, I doubt I even realised he appeared on it, for it is an instrumental. The thing that amazed me (and does to this day) was the way he played the mellotron. The opening to that song, with it’s peculiar squelchy synth sound, leading to that single note held that is for, what in any other hands would seem too long, before that superbly laid back beat pummells in . . . I could go on, but it’s not the same without hearing it. It was this song that opened my eyes to the genius of the Godfather. From there on I was hooked. At the time I didn’t have a stereo, just a little tape deck, which I listened to as many funk compilations I could find on, hoping for a little more James (or George Clinton of course, but that’s another obituary altogether). One of the main reasons I finally got a proper stereo was so that I could hear more James Brown.

The first piece of vinyl I ver bought was by James Brown.

The first compact disc I ever bought was by James Brown (though, if I’m honest, it was shit).

I was lucky enough to see the man himself live twice. Though he was way past his prime (the CD was one of the many live albums of nineties performances that were bought out), Soul Brother Number One still churned out an amazing performance. The backing band had none of the magic of the JB’s when functioning at the seventies peak, but they did their best. The one holding the whole thing together was the octagenarian with the stained white teeth and dubious looking hair, sliding across the stage and moving like a man half his age with ants in his pants. I was in awe. I had the pleasure of staring up at him, sweating his guts out and performing like a man possessed for four hours of my life. They were some of the happiest.

He died on Christmas day.

When I was at the gig, I like to think that he saw me, grinning like a loon up at his already withered face. And that his seeing my happiness increased his own. He deserved it.


December 24th, 2006 by

Mere hours away from the big day now, I stand over my keyboard (I would sit, but I can’t be bothered to unfold my chair), wrapped presents behind me, cards unbought sitting on shop shelves and something resembling good cheer in cold dark heart. To give the less festive among you a chance to bring yourselves closer to the feelings of the season, I point you in this direction. Only listenable until next Friday, The National Theatre of Brent’s Messiah comes with my very own red nosed seal of approval. It should have been used to the cold, living in the arctic, but that’s my seal for you. It’s always poorly in December. If the link doesn’t work, try the Radio 4 Listen Again site, and click on the Friday Play. Before nine o’clock on Friday. A happy Festivus to you all!

Commercial grumbling

December 23rd, 2006 by

The Christmas break is here at long last and I’m hopelessly glad of the fact. Not that the run up’s been busy (social life excluded – see liver for details), but the increasing fog levels (worrying for the cyclist in me), the decreasing temperature (bed next to a drafty window was one of my less inspired feng shui decisions) and hurried presnt shopping (two weeks worrying about it followed by an hour and a half blitzing shops) have left me in sore need of a break. Meanwhile all of my favourite local shops are on the brink of closure due to cheaper chain stores stealing their business (Polar Bear being usurped by Fopp – must admit there’s a Fopp in town anyway), increased rent (Avid Records – at some point next year the only place to get second hand records in town will be charity shops) or a lack of financial backing (Comic Showase’s last shipment of new stock will be arriving next Friday).

The start of 2007 looks to be a bleak time in terms of hobbies for me. At least my wallet will be letting off a sigh of relief as I stick the moth balls back in. For those of you unlikely to check on here over the festive period (and frankly who can blame you), a merry Christmas to you all. I shall probably try and continue blogging up to the twenty fifth (might even try a Christmas mesage if I’m not stuffed full of meat by then), because, well, frankly I’ve got nothing better to do. I sort of hope that neither do you. Happy Chrimble.

News, annoyances and other

December 21st, 2006 by

I’ve just had to reinstall NTL for the fourth time because (a) they are cunts, and (b) because my housemate doesn’t seem to own there own password. My e-mail is still dead because (a) Orange are cunts and (b) Orange are cunts. Still, it’s approaching bed time, so I should probably point out some amusing facts before I slump unconciously over the keyboard.

My local comic shop is closing. This is slightly distressing to me. Admittedly it’s deserved to for the past three or four years, being run by half wits without the faintest clue where the real mainstream might lie, who have only started talking to me in the past six months despite over a decades worth of weekly custom. This’ll leave me going to the only other shop in the county (about twenty miles away) or attempting to start something of my own – if I can find a small fortune in the next month or so or convince my employers that a comics section is a great idea.

Speaking of employers, I managed to kick a four year old child to the floor a couple of days ago. It wasn’t intentional and I’m still quite mortified over the entire incident (unlike the mother). It should teach me to not carry large piles of books (with a huge calender on the bottom) through a childrens book section and perhaps start wondering when one of my legs becomes oddly sluggish, but I continue moving it at the same rate. Probably won’t though will it.

Sure ther are other things, but memory eludes me. Instead I shall direct you here and here. I’m not sure I can even think of any unused courtroom gags in the first one, while t’other one brings back happy memories of John Sparkes being the most amusing thing on two legs. Might not stand up brilliantly, but still gave me a chuckle.

Tomorrow (actually today now) I might well be ice skating. If I survive, I shall see you all soon, albeit typing with stumps. Good evening to you all.

More bleating about how shit Orange are (Answer: Very shit).

December 17th, 2006 by

E-mail continues to elude me like some kind of a hog. If I’m unable to get an actual connection in the next couple of days, I might set up some kind of interim account so that I can receive the thousands of yule tide missives that usually pour into my inbox. At the very least, so that I can find out who my unsuspecting Secret Santa victim is. Anyway, keeping things seasonal, I offer you this, a truer celebration of the holiday spirit you’re unlikely to find. God I wish I’d taped the whole series. Until soon, good night.

Technological Magick

December 12th, 2006 by

Internet still seems to be working wirelessly, which to my luddite hindbrain seems incredible. I never imagined that I’d be able to contact the world around me with radio waves back when I was sitting in bed playing with my CB radio. I’m still unable to look at my e-mails due to my lack of a physical phoneline. If anyone has a car, a phone, a good deal of spare time or some way of restarting an increasingly decrepid Freeserve account, then please contact me. How you do that is entirely up to you, but it’s probably easiest not to do it via e-mail.

What with Christmas being on the way and all, I shall soon be attempting some shameless commercial experiment after some prompting from my lucre loving administrator Rob (Uber). You’ll know it when you see it (though I do need e-mail to do it properly, compounding my frustrations further). Until then I shall be using this new found speedy connection examining obscure televisual and radio amusements. I’ll let you know if I find anything good.

Or I’ll be in the pub. Which is probably more likely.

Tour Day Seven – To Home

December 10th, 2006 by

The last night’s sleep is fitful – not worries or anything, but the sounds of a gale blowing outside the window (I later learn of hurricane reports in London). When I finally awake properly, I try to liase with Josephine and we conclude that the corner of Oxford Street at one would be the best meeting point for lunch. I say my farewells to my increasingly snotty brother and his perfectly well other and head out into the city one last time. I’m at one end of Oxford Street by midday – the wrong end. But don’t worry dear reader, this was part of my plan. I’d visited a Forbidden Planet in every city so far, so I wasn’t about to let the countries biggest go to waste. After a quick detour into a smaller shop round the corner (the two issues of Children of the Voyager I’d been looking for for almost fifteen years – yay!), London’s Forbidden Planet was a bitter disappointment. No back issues (though that has been the case for a while), no recent stuff I’d missed, a discount section filled only with rubbish not even it’s creators would have been happy with and all of it situated in the basement so I couldn’t listen to I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue on my shitty little radio. I departed with half an hour to spare and made my way back up Oxford Street. On the way I passed a large poster of Sylvia Saint in a video shop window and considered a speedy detour into Soho to pick up some of it’s less reputable wares. I had no actual cash and no desire to hand my Switch card over to purveyors of filth, but both of my attempts to withdraw money from Oxford Street cash machines were thwarted by their being empty (or false, card copying things which are draining my account as I type). If I tried again I would be late for my rendevous, so I girded my loins onward and put all thoughts of porn behind me.

I needn’t have worried – Josephine arrived at just gone five past one and that was by my clock which was still running slow. We haeded away from Marble Arch and ended up down the street where her current residence is to be found (she didn’t point out which one it was – possible fear of stalking?) and found ourselves in the pub at the end of the road for lunch. For what looked like a well kept London boozer, the choice of an alost entirely Thai menu came as a bit of a surprise (I too have noticed the large number of times that Thailand has appeared on this journey – as of this writing I am yet to work out the significance of it). They were also doing a Sunday roast which, incongruous though it was, proved to be a good option. Jonat’ton came to join me once more and the three of us whiled away a happy couple of hours chatting and drinking. Then it was time for me to go.

We wandered back to Marble Arch and said our good byes before I walked down the underpass and virtually straight onto a bus. Nine pounds for a single! It’s only seven for a return after three o’clock and it was well gone that! I paid up, sat down, stuck my discman on and read until I got back, tired but contented.

Tour Day Six – London

December 10th, 2006 by

Awake reasonably bright and almost early. The brother of a friend of my brother had promised that he could get my brother, his other and I into see Primal Scream on the guestlist that night, so I was in quite a good mood. My brother had a bit of a sniffle as he made me beans on toast, but I though no more of it. Arranged to meet Simmo – I’d planned for it to be for lunch but he was watching the Chelsea Tottenham match somewhere near Bank so, after sorting out the exact location thanks to Google Maps, I head off alone to meet him. From the outside it looks like a conventional sports pub, except for the notice on the door forbidding soiled work clothes being worn on the premises. I imagine sweaty suited bankers being turned away. Simmo is easy to find and I join his posse of work colleagues and a couple of Thai ladies whose connection to the group I never did discover. We appear to be the only people supporting Tottenham in the building, which would have worried me had they not fared so appallingly in the match (Simmo doesn’t actually support them, but had a foolish bet on). I invite Jonat’ton to join us, which he does shortly after the game has finished (Josephine had already cried off sick for the day due to excesses of the previous night).

At some point my brother calls to inform me that he’s pulling out of Primal Scream, as his sniffle has developed into a full blown cold. He also tells me that there are around two hundred people on this possibly mythical guestlist, so if I want a chance to get in I should go down early. I moot the idea of trying to pass Simmo and Jonat’ton (in drag) as my brother and his other, but the idea is vetoed as Simmo has other plans and Jonat’ton (being a classically trained voilaist) probably wouldn’t be able to hear for the following day’s practice. Begrudgingly, I decide not to go. We drink remarkably cheap Guinness until Simmo departs with his colleagues (and the mysterious Thais) to a Vietnamese restaurant for someone’s birthday. Jonat’ton and I drink up and decide that food would be a good idea. We discover that it’s a poor one in the Bank area, due to a lack of any real sort of restaurants, over priced or otherwise. Eventually we hit the Barbican and dine in it’s barely quarter full Pizza Express, with wonderful views of the road it hangs over.

Having had our fill of overpriced cheesy bread, we try to navigate our way out of the Barbican. Easier said than done with it’s often contradictory signposting, but eventually we succeed and decide to head for Leicester Square to see a film. Getting out of the station we heave our way through the Saturday night throngs and get into the square itself. There are a couple of interesting looking productions going on, but on our first attempt Jonat’ton is informed that the student allocation for that screen is all gone. We are about to try again for another, when I notice that tickets are over fifteen pounds without discount, so we decide that a rethink might be in order. We try one more cinema, which is a lot cheaper but is only showing Sing-Along-A-Sound-Of-Music, before I decide that a wander around Soho would be more fun. I have a lot of time for Soho and so long as you don’t stroll through the doors of anywhere obviously dodgy, it is a fascinatingly pleasant area. After a bit of a wander we happen upon a real ale pub, with free seats and settle down for a couple more pints. From the second floor it’s amusing watching the people go by – sadly I missed the drag queens (or was perhaps too convinced by them), but did spot the flotilla of Hari Krishna’s singing and marching. Having discovered the time of the last bus from Muswell Hill’s nearest tube stop, we leave before closing time, make our way to Tottenham Court Road station, pausing only to snigger outside the offices of Tiger Aspect Productions. Jonat’ton heads back to Greenwich and I soon find myself on a bus away from the station. It’s only when I spot the signs for the North Circular that it occurs to me that I might be on the wrong bus. I evacuate, curse my luck and start to walk back to the station. My brother calls again to find out what’s keeping me and I’m about to have a go for him not telling me not to get that number of bus, when he points out that I probably should have caught a bus from the stop on the other side of the road, as those are the ones that actually go to Muswell Hill. I curse myself a fool, find another stop and am lucky to catch the prepenultimate bus back to the right zone. After a bit of confusuion finding the right flat (a mixture of darkness, flats looking the same and Guinness) I get in, find my futon already set and collapse almost immediatly into the warming embrace of kippage.