Something for the Weakened

Archive for September, 2013

For Thine Consideration XV

September 21st, 2013 by Alastair

Yeah, I know I’ve not been posting here for a fair old while. But there are another fourteen posts of this nature in the database. Use the search thing if you don’t believe me. See? Told you. The first one should give you some idea of what’s occurring. Now, onto the meat.

I was listening to Pablo Honey for the first time in ages a wee while back. Inevitably this led to me listening to Creep. While it was playing, it became apparent that something was missing. Where was Tarzan? Surely Tarzan’s going to turn up soon. Unsurprisingly Tarzan didn’t turn up. Neither he, nor Johnny Weissmuller appear on the track itself. But they do here. Give this a listen, then return for my words of wisdom.

Creep – Iannucci Radio Edit

I’ve had to do a tiny fade in at the start there as there was no clean break between that and the track before it. Apologies, but it sort of works, doesn’t it? Anyway, this recording comes from an episode of Armando Iannucci’s Radio 1 show, first broadcast on March 21st 1994. I do find myself listening to Iannucci’s shows on a pretty regular basis, far more so than the early works of Radiohead. The Iannucci shows are still amusing to me, in spite of how familiar I’ve become with them after years of repeated listening. Comfort for the ears on a hungover morning I find. They’re actually all still available from the fist of fun dot net site I foolishly described as defunct a few posts ago. There’s some decent music to be heard amongst the sketches (and some rubbish music too – the presence of Doop by Doop should never be forgiven) and this particular example features several of the regularly used overdubs that were regularly scattered throughout the shows.

Tarzan features, as previously mentioned, though only the once. My memory had had him coming in for every chorus, so I was slightly saddened not to hear him in the first one while in the process of ripping this from the full show. Mercifully he does put in an appearance, as does the sneezing baby (Iannucci’s own? He was a father at this point). There are also some facts chucked in from the staff of ITV’s The Chart Show, though disappointingly not as many as there are during some records.

The main addition that particularly amuses me are the censorious time checks and “Which is best?” request (the name of a feature running in that episode – I’m saying no more, go and listen to it if you’re curious). My research would suggest that Creep had its greatest chart success in late 1993, so presumably the radio edit with ‘very’ substituting the ‘fucking’s would have been readily available to broadcasters all over the globe. It can’t have been hard to lay hands on a copy in the studios of One FM at the break of spring in 1994. Yet, the uncensored version is the one used and a fine gag it makes – particularly the second one where Armando’s plummy tones barely disguise it at all.

As to what went on in Radio Berkshire, I’d urge you to go and listen to the whole show now to find out.

Paul’s Hard Castle!

September 17th, 2013 by Alastair

Cycling to work the other day, I passed what appeared to be a woman with no mouth.

I imagine that she probably did have one, but I certainly couldn’t discern it from the rest of her face.

Mumps, maybe?

This Contains No Scenes Of A Sexual Nature & One Use Of Horrible Language

September 15th, 2013 by Alastair

So I was in a bar a few days back. Not the kind of establishment I’d normally frequent, but it was someone’s birthday. A pleasant evening was had. Eventually the bar closed. Eleven o’clock, maybe midnight – it was a school night and hardly anywhere stays open much later in this one horse town. Nevertheless, a small group of us decided to try and find somewhere else open. Trudging off away from town, it soon became clear that nowhere was available for proper late night boozing. The girl one of our number suggested that we head back to hers, as it was pretty close by. My bike was back by the bar we’d just left, so I thought I might just head home (home being at the other end of town). She said that she had gin. I was swayed (though not swaying).

The four of us wandered up the hill to the place she apparently shares with some other humans (though none of them were to be seen during all the time I was there). We piled in and sat in the small living room, chatting and shooting the shit for a while. I was sat next to the girl one. She produced a bottle of supermarket own brand whiskey and passed it around. I declined at first, pointing out that it would taste appalling, but was eventually cajoled into taking a swig. It tasted appalling. At some point the girl one pulled out a duvet and draped it over the pair of us on the two-person sofa. Gears turned in my head. Sums were done. “She’s attractive. I’m lonely, desperate and pathetic. Perhaps…”

The first of the boy ones left about twoish. The remaining male entity had been the last man standing just prior to one of my previous extremely rare sexual successes, so when he got up to leave, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was some kind of talisman. Would it be worth my while to try and get hold of him every time I happened to be having a nice chat with a lady? The girl one escorted the last boy one to the door, leaving me under the duvet (under which, I must state, nothing had happened). It was around half two. I had no plots, or schemes. I have no moves. There had been talk of a boyfriend and I had no intention of cuckolding some random stranger (who I’d probably end up knowing anyway, what with the small town nature of this place). I was merely intrigued to see how things would play out.

Through the light whiskey haze (I may have had a few more swigs, as the gin was not forthcoming), I tuned into the conversation coming from the hallway. The last boy one had pointed out the fact that as he lived in an outlying town and what with it being late and a school night, that the buses would have long since stopped. That he’d probably have to get a cab home for a reasonably hefty sum. After walking into town, probably a stroll of half an hour, forty-five minutes. At this, the girl one quite rightly invited him to stay the night at hers. My heart slumped a little, as any sexy prospects dissipated from my mind, but no matter thought the rational brain. Nothing was ventured, nothing is lost. I could easily go back for the bike, get home and still get a few hours shuteye before the next morning’s work. Perhaps I’d even have acted as the talisman for the last boy one and we’d be able to alternate our system of mutually assured puss destruction. *

The pair of them re-entered the lounge, but did not take seats. The girl one suggested that the three of us should go up stairs. She did not specify why. As I ascended those three flights, I can’t recall what thoughts roamed through my head. Perhaps she wanted to show us something interesting. Could it be possible that I’d accidentally stumbled into a slightly creepy swingers situation. Maybe this was where she kept the gin. At the top of the house, she ushered us into a bedroom and, standing in the doorway, informed us that this was where we, the two boy ones would be sleeping. In a big double bed together.

I said that no, I’d be fine cycling home.

She told me that, no, I wouldn’t be and that I would be sleeping here.

This back and forth continued for some time, with some variations, but with the same stoic, immovable stances taken by both of us. She told me that she was worried for my safety, that walking back to my bike and then cycling home could result in my injury or death. I informed her that it was something I had done on many occasions before, with almost no previous scathing. This argument cycled around a few times, neither of us backing down. I seem to recall that the boy one chipped in at some point, possibly with a suggestion of top and tailing, though I could not say for certain. Eventually I decided that my life would be easier if I were to just go back downstairs and ready myself for departure. I tried to slip past her standing in the doorway.

She blocked my path.

I tried again.

I was blocked once more.

She then proceeded to stand in that doorway, refusing me exit, for what must have been between three and five minutes. I tried quick leaps past, but she was quicker than I. Pushing did not seem to work either, firmly lodged in the frame as she was. At one point I raised my voice and was shushed, so as to not to wake the other sleeping residents. I complied – I am not a monster – but continued to state my case that I would be fine to leave and probably be more comfortable not being kept prisoner. She continued to argue that I wouldn’t be safe and would really be better off sharing the bed with the other boy one while she kipped on the sofa. Towards the end of the squabble I grasped the lintel of the doorway, hoisted myself off the floor and tried to clamber over her. This only resulted in my wrapping my legs around her hips and an unsuccessful attempt to rotate my body around hers so that I might make my escape.

Finally she conceded the point that I’d probably be okay getting home and would allow me to leave, under the proviso that I send her a text as soon as I got home. I agreed to this, we went downstairs and I prepared myself for the ride back. It was at this point that I explained the times that I hadn’t got home unscathed (the fractured jaw, the mild concussion), as a fairly ungallant expression of annoyance at what had gone on before. She did not attempt to stop my departure again. We exchanged numbers and I left the two of them in the house to their own devices. I got home forty-five minutes later, following a journey devoid of incident. I sent a text before I crawled into bed. It mentioned the fact that there was no gin in my house either.

We’ve not had any phone contact since. I have seen both boy and girl ones about following that night, but have never had the gall to ask what went on following my departure. The girl one did thank me for the text message. We did not discuss the doorway and what plans she might have had if she’d managed to keep the two boy ones in a bed together for a night. There was a lock on that door, so perhaps it would have been for even longer. Maybe she was planning on having us breed together. What a mighty talisman that would have produced.

* Please can I assure everyone that I am horribly ashamed of myself for writing those four words. I have no defence apart from the fact they made me laugh out loud at quite how horrible the combination sounds. I am a vile human being.


September 12th, 2013 by Alastair

So I was cycling home the other day. Friday night, after closing time, so shortly after midnight. Little bit tipsy, but nothing out of the ordinary there. Got to that bit of the road where the cycle lane turns into the bus lane – you know the bit, yeah? At that point I noticed the car. The sound at first was nearer than normal. Then it crept into the corner of my eye. Noticed that it was getting a bit close.

Then came the impact.

It wasn’t hard. It was directly on the side of my head and helmet. Peculiar white matter flew in front of my eyes. I maintained my balance and continued pedalling. The car began to accelerate and I was confronted by the sight of a man, half out of the passenger side rear window, jeering and gesticulating at me. What he said was sadly drowned out by whatever was playing in my headphones, so will forever be lost to posterity.  The car continued to accelerate away from me, but not with the squeal of tires that accompany a getaway, just steadily up to the speed limit and eventually around a corner about a hundred metres ahead of me. I maintained my balance and continued pedalling.

At that point, I seriously considered, turning left and following them. At that point I was pretty convinced that I had been splattered on the side of the head with a particularly mayonnaisey kebab. At that point I was giggling manically. The sheer audacity of the situation, the stupidity of the action, the fact that their attack hadn’t even caused me to miss a rotation of the pedals. What they had done was funny. Yes, I was the butt of the joke, but what of it. It was late, no one was around to see me smothered in matter except those who’d planned the jape. Yes, I was a bit miffed that I was going to have wipe myself down when I got home, but that was far out weighed by my amusement at the silly prank that had been played on me.

I didn’t turn left. What would I have done? There were at least three people in the car, to my one puny stick figure. In the unlikely event that they had stopped in that side street and that I had remembered the make of car, registration number or face of the thrower, what could I have said to them? Attempt to remonstrate with them through my own giggles? Congratulate them on the execution of the joke and risk a further pelting? I wasn’t especially bothered with what I had spilt on me at that point, it mainly being on my hair, helmet and jacket, all of which were pretty much wipe clean. Further splatter from extra peltings could have led to actually having to wash stuff and I didn’t want that level of stain care. Plus, they might have beaten the shit out of me. I passed the turning, maintained my balance and kept pedalling. And giggling.

When I got home and examined the damage, my giggles nearly became guffaws. The white matter I had witnessed, and even sniffed a couple of times on my ride back, was not mayonnaise at all. I hadn’t been hit by a kebab at all. It was actually all shaving foam. A proper foam custard pie, like what people used to chuck around on Tizwas. This only made the situation funnier. The fact that this was a clearly premeditated pie-by was, and is, so stunningly wonderful that I am happy to have been victim to it. Doubt I’ll be that enamoured should it happen again, but for now, those pie guys have my respect.

If you’ve been affected by any of the events described in this post, please do write in. I could do with a giggle.


September 7th, 2013 by Alastair

The earliest mention on this site I can find of my search for recordings of the 1997 Radio 1 series The League Against Tedium is from 2008. I can assure you that that search had been going on for a few years before that. The only link to an obvious download of the whole series I’ve found in my seven or eight years of occasional Googling was a long dead link on the cook’dandbomb’d forum. The series never appeared on streaming sites. League listings would occasionally pop up on torrent sites, but would always turn out to be episodes of Attention Scum that had been labelled incorrectly (not that I actually use torrents, but such was my obsession I would have happily signed up just to obtain the object of my quest). I could have given up hope, but with the vastness of the internet it seemed inevitable that one day the show would be uploaded somewhere. So I continued my regular search engine scouring every couple of months, only to be dashed on the rocks of opportunity each time. Until now.

The idea that Auntie Beeb might ever rebroadcast it seemed highly unlikely. The ending of their relationship with the Magnificent Mister Munnery (League creator, in case that was in any doubt) following his League based TV series Attention Scum was far from rosy and, from reports I’ve read, included the statement that that series will never, ever be repeated on television. A crying shame, as it’s still a favourite of mine, in spite of my not having watched it since first broadcast. I even pinched its name for the first post on this very site. A repeat of the radio series seemed even less likely. I had not factored in the fact that the radio and television arms of the BBC are entirely independent things. More significantly, I had forgotten about the voracious need for content that BBC 7 (formerly 4Extra) has. The fact that they had recently started raiding programmes from back in the days when Radio 1 broadcast comedy had caught my eye, but didn’t prick up my ears. A few months back I noticed when they started repeating the Radio 1 shows Munnery did as his Alan Parker character, yet there was still no suggestion in my mind that anything else would follow (and I’d already sourced those shows from the sadly defunct fist of fun dot net). Then last week, the unthinkable happened. 4Extra broadcast the first episode of The League Against Tedium.

Here it is.

I listened to it for the first time this morning, after almost a decade of hoping to hear it. I was not disappointed. In spite of my somewhat fragile mental state (we’ll get onto that at a later date), I was reduced to a crumpled heap of hilarity on more than one occasion. There is so little written about the show online, that I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect. Having been exposed to a number of comedy shows from Radio 1 from that time (the aforementioned Parker, Lee & Herring’s stuff, Armando Iannucci’s shows, Chris Morris’s run), I was expecting the hour long format to feature sketches interspersed with late ’90s indie pop (or some beaty early hip hop, like what Morris used to do to magnificent effect). There is a bit of that, but with the character of the League at the helm, unsurprisingly things are shaken up a bit. I only detected two bona fide pop songs over the duration, only one of which where I could identify the band (it’s Pulp, fact fans – couldn’t tell you the song, as I’m not much of a fan and the songs are essentially ignored by everything around them, unlike all the other 1FM shows I’ve experienced). The fact that the rest of the show’s musical content is taken up by strange ’70s muzak came as a bit of an affront to me at first. On a first listen I only identified a weird sitar led version of I Can See For Miles and something that sounded a bit like ELP for elevators, but I’m guessing that much of the backing could be songs that you and I should recognise, but don’t. Having only really heard Wagner around the League before, this seemed more than a little apposite, but as the show goes on it seems to become more appropriate. The contrariness of playing these mangled covers at 9PM on the nation’s top pop station is very in keeping with the League’s misguided belief in his own superiority, as if he found one of those old Top of the Pops LPs in a skip and now believes this to be all that pop music is and could ever be. Speculation on my part of course, but it sounds like the actions of the malfunctioning superego that the character is.

It’s very funny as well. Did I mention that? There were a few gags that I was reasonably familiar with (Munnery’s tendency to regularly reuse material is a criticism many have levelled at him and sadly has a grain of truth to it, though apparently his new show is almost entirely new stuff, which I do plan to see if it tours past these parts any time soon) and I think some of the sketches turned up in Attention Scum, but as I say, I haven’t watched that since broadcast (what is a YouTube, Mother?) so I couldn’t say for certain. There were no credits on the tape that was broadcast, or given by Isy Suttie (who, I warn you, does some cringe inducing link work at the top and tail of the iPlayer version – I generally really like Suttie, but the few seconds of continuity here were like rusty nails down a blackboard on my eardrum), so I can’t give you a definitive list of the supporting players. In this episode there is an unmistakable appearance by The Actor Kevin Eldon, but the other roles are harder to place. Radiohaha and epguides both list the other supporting males as Stewart Lee, whose voice I did not hear, so assume will turn up in later episodes, and Roger Mann, another member of Cluub Zarathustra, but one who pretty much gave up performing before the stroke of the millenium, leaving my ability to identify his voice sparse at best. I assume that it is he who does the traditional League introduction (“You are nothing, absolutely nothing, etc”), which sounded wrong coming from the mouth of anyone other than Munnery, but it was a decent enough stab, I suppose. There does appear to be a female performer in there too, which radiohaha suggests is The Lovely Sally Phillips (though epguides doesn’t reckon any women were involved in the endeavour). It definitely sounded like a woman’s voice and Phillips was another Zarathustra alumnus, implying they have their facts straight. It’s obviously someone ‘doing a ‘comedy’ voice’, but it just didn’t sound like her to my ears. Perhaps epguides are correct and Mann is in fact one of the finest female impersonators that we will now never see on our screens or hear on our radios.

All of this of course occurs two or three months after dear old Auntie Beeb put pay to the excellent radiodownloader service leeching off the iPlayer. I can understand some of their logic in doing so, as it had the potential to decrease some of the revenue stream they need to pay for all that middle management. Yet I feel it’s unlikely that they’re going to stick up this series in their iTunes store anytime soon. Not that that would be of any use to me as I can’t and won’t use iTunes. A CD release would be ideal for me and my Luddist ways, but that’s clearly not going to happen. The plans to make all of the BBC’s back catalogue available at all times that were mooted a few years back seem to have vanished back up the fundament from which they once emanated. Having spent as long as I have trying to obtain this series, am I now to just let it slip from my grasp again, until BBC 7 (formerly 4 Extra) tire of the fifty-eighth repeat of series three of Round the Horne and decide to play it again in 2025? Or am I going to have to hold my tape deck up to my computer’s speakers and try and get episode one before it falls off iPlayer, then video episodes 2 – 6? If anyone has any tips on how one might rip things from iPlayer, or indeed is able and prepared to do so for me, it would be greatly appreciated.

Wrapping things up then, I highly recommend giving this first episode a listen. I can’t say anything about the ones that follow, except to register my excitement at the opportunity to finally hear them after these oh so many years. Thank you the BBC. I take back everything else I might have said about you in this diatribe. Well, some of it. But do listen to it. You. Yes, you. Then tell your friends to listen to it. Then make them. Google currently lists 25 results for uses of “league against tedium” over the past month. That’s really not enough. Get excited people. Truly we are witnessing superioritay.

A Stirring…

September 3rd, 2013 by Alastair

Housemate is eating unsettling quantities of beetroot.

His poo must look like his rectum has burst.

More exciting insights soon, pals.