Bang out of order

10:55 pm : Thursday, 10 September 2020  |  ,


Today marks my 48th birthday, and a very pleasant day it has been. There has been the usual Bacardi and Lindor, and a wonderful samples box of Green and Blacks chocolate. She knows what I like! I have had chocolate with salted caramel before, but today I tried just milk chocolate with a touch of sea salt. It is a fascinating combination. Green and Blacks chocolate is proper chocolate, and is best enjoyed by breaking off a small piece and letting it melt slowly in the mouth, allowing the flavours to unfold and delight. That distant jolt of the added salt really does add to the experience.

Birthdays normally involve receiving an Amazon gift card, and what better way to spend it than on some vinyl? First up I chose Carole King's 1971 legend Tapestry. This is an album that truly belongs in every collection. You can honestly forget the likes of Nirvana and Radiohead - their albums are truly worthless when compared to this stripped-down and thoroughly empowering album. The songs of Ms King are veritable treasures.

My second vinyl choice is Good Times! by The Monkees. Released in 2016, this album marked their 50th anniversary, and features a posthumous appearance by Davy Jones. The three remaining members perform songs written by the likes of Andy Partridge (XTC), Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), and a track by Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher. It is a real bucket of joy, and while the CD version was a little lively in tone, the LP version should be a smoother listen - smooth as a boat on a sea of Mars bars!

The third choice is Keane and their 2004 debut Hopes and Fears. A rock band that used the piano as the lead instrument instead of the obligatory guitar. Songs like Everybody's Changing and Somewhere Only We Know hold such memories for me. Their sound was truly their own, and this album became the second biggest UK seller of 2004, beaten to first place by the Scissor Sisters.

The day has not been without drama though. Why else would I provide such a title and picture? While on the computer earlier today I heard an emergency siren. Expecting an ambulance to be coming, I witnessed a fire engine entering our close. Not a great surprise, as the fire service are routinely trained to offer assistance until an ambulance becomes available. Allowing curiosity to get the better of me, I wandered outdoors to see a column of black smoke emerging from a nearby property. The immediate response was: "Oh good Lord, no!" While others stood watching rather closely, I kept a greater distance from the building, horrified as flames were appearing over the roofline. A couple of minutes later there is a phenomenal explosion, and a fireball emerges with fury, which finally convinced the other people to STAND WELL BACK! Later we learned that this was due to a neighbour's oil storage tank going off. Acetylene canisters were also involved. A total of five fire engines turned up, which was necessary as the first one was emptied trying to control the fire. It was not an easy one to contain.

At about 5:30pm the local ice cream van passed by, and despite our close being cordoned off by the police, he was ushered in to provide much needed iced relief for the many fire and police personnel, as well as the residents. His presence was definitely appreciated at that very time, and there was no way the police were going to let the aftermath of a major incident get in the way of some sorely-needed pleasure!

Another one bites the dust

9:57 pm : Tuesday, 28 July 2020  |  , ,


I have never been a fan of Wiley - or indeed of any grime artist. To me, he was just that bloke who did a track in 2009 entitled Wearing My Rolex. Not a person I've ever given much thought to, though I somehow had about twelve of his songs in my DJ music collection - either his or through collaborations. Maybe they got played in the past, maybe they did not.

This week saw that change. Anything of his was promptly removed from the collection. It is a fate that has befallen the likes of R Kelly and Chris Brown. I don't consider myself a censorious old b@st@rd, but I don't really want to promote the music of people who have actively caused harm. Jonathan King and Gary Glitter also have no place in the collection. Michael Jackson, however, remains innocent in my eyes. And in the eyes of so many others. In fact, only once (in 2003) have I had someone come up and say: "Oi don't play Michael Jackson, he's a pervert!" I promptly told that person to p*ss off and stop telling lies.

So where do we stand on Elvis Presley? It has been stated many a time that he had dalliances with females as young as 14. Apparently we should stop romanticising him and start acknowledging him for what he actually was - a paedophile and a rapist. So what do I tell the VERY MANY older people who continue to request his music? Do I seriously tell the old dear in her seventies: "Sorry, I don't play music by paedophiles"? I know it would be the "woke" thing to do, but that generation are not going to disown The King™ just like that! Some things just do not come easy. It is with heavy heart that I will continue to play The Great Burger Muncher™ for the older listener.

For the record, I also avoid Blurred Lines, with it's ignorant, mocking refrain of "I know you want it!" In fact I don't just avoid it - I don't possess it. You cannot play what you do not have!

Still not forgotten

10:36 pm : Thursday, 23 July 2020  |  


Nine years have passed since our Amy died. A waste of an enormous talent. Another admission to the infamous 27 Club. But that is what happens when you abuse alcohol. My dad's use of alcohol taught me that. Too much of it just wrecks you, and I can't say I was not concerned about it when she was still alive. She was more or less on a path to self-destruction. Something that was not helped by that arse of a husband she chose. I know love is blind, but he was trouble from the word go. Still it was her choice to go with him.

Tonight the vinyl copy of Back To Black came out of its sleeve, and allowed us to swim in the musical chocolate that she and her comrades committed to tape. Her memory will never fade. Her music will live on and shine beautifully. God rest Amy.

I'm at a payphone

12:31 am : Wednesday, 22 July 2020  |  ,


I put some DJ equipment up for sale on Facebook Marketplace recently. In return I asked for a not unreasonable sum. Later on that day, a man contacts me and says: "U want Samsung S6?" In other words, he wanted my equipment but did not want to hand over any actual money for it, and thought I would be willing to accept an old smartphone instead. I responded with a polite "No thank you", thinking this would be the end of it. No chance of that! He then replies with: "OK how about S7?" and sends me pictures of said mobile phone! Needless to say, I blocked the guy. He with no actual money to impart may kindly bog off.

I was then presented with a question - when did smartphones become legal tender? I know there was an advert where a guy in Prague swapped his Levi 501's for a Trabant, but I would rather realise some cash, if that is at all possible! I really was shocked and stunned. I then decided to edit the advert, and tacked the following notice at the bottom: "I will only accept cash - not mobile phones!" That I actually have to put such a disclaimer in an advert is depressing. Come on!


Hee teacheth od fellowes play tricks with their creditors, who instead of payments write IOV, and so scoffe many an honest man out of his goods.

Still, it kind of adds a new meaning to the word payphone.

Stone free

9:38 am : Saturday, 4 July 2020  |  ,


It's weight loss time once again. A couple of weeks ago I weighed myself, and the verdict was: 21 stone and 7 pounds. For American viewers that's 301 pounds, and if you are European you can read it as 136.5 kilos. This is my heaviest weight ever. Add to this mix two arthritic knees and two arthritic big toe joints, and a dose of lower back pain, and it is a true recipe for bad living! The age of 50 is not too far away, and I do have this desire to live beyond 57, which is the age my dad died.

Week one I managed to lose four pounds by restricting what I eat, while week two has seen a further seven pounds shifted. This was achieved by drinking nothing but water. A bloody hard thing to do. Fizzy drinks - even without the sugar - are damn yummy! And energy drinks? Well I enjoyed them a little too much. I know I have a full-time job as a carer to my partner, but is that really a reason for inhaling a litre of Red Terror each and every day? By having a minimum of three litres of water a day, something seems to have changed. The reading is now: 20 stone and 10 pounds (290 pounds / 131.5 kilos).

How did it ever get to this? Back in 2007 I was a thoroughly decent eleven stone, and had energy aplenty. Living as I did in London, I would walk for two hours a day, which was just as well as my eating was not small portioned. Then arthritis and back pain started to rear their damned heads, and my movement was becoming restricted. Weight would then start to pile on at the rate of probably a stone a year. Where once I was svelte, I was now a colossal avalanche. And once the weight goes on, movement only becomes more restricted.

An old school friend died last month, and while he appeared to live a hedonistic lifestyle, it was a reminder for some of us to buck up and make some kind of change. Bad health does not come with any reward. Whether I make it back to eleven stone remains to be seen. There is no fun to be had in looking like a sack of spuds.

All my wanting, all my waiting

9:08 pm : Tuesday, 9 June 2020  |  , ,


The website Discogs is a terrific place. Anyone who wishes to build a vinyl collection has got it made on there. Search for those albums you had as a kid or a teen, especially if, like me, you bought all those Ronco and Telstar compilations of the 80s. You can scour the marketplace according to the condition of the record, as well as by price.

In October of 1986 I bought a double compilation entitled The Chart/The Chart '86. This was, I believe, the last instance of that "Buy The Chart and get The Chart '86 absolutely free!" sales practice. After that, they just sold compilations as proper double albums. Maybe it was the rising popularity of the CD that saw that practice fall into disuse? Anyhow, The Chart was a selection of then-current songs, including Boris Gardiner's limp follow-up to I Wanna Wake Up With You - the equally sappy You're Everything To Me. Its accomplice The Chart '86 was a roundup of some of the hits of the year so far - including the beautiful non-hit Graceland by The Bible. These two albums sat proud in my collection.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a near-mint set of the two albums on Discogs, and for the thoroughly decent price of £5 plus postage, I went ahead and purchased. A week later they arrive. Two sleeves in great condition with PVC outer sleeves, and two pristine LP's - both of which were of the first album, but not the second. So two copies of You're Everything To Me and no copy of Graceland. B@st@rd! A refund of £2.50 did come.

Not to worry - just go back on the site and find a solo copy of The Chart '86 in a suitable condition. Found one for £4 plus delivery and ordered it. Two days later, the vendor lets me know that the record must have been sold because it wasn't in their stock! £4 plus delivery was promptly refunded.

Third time lucky, surely! Located a third solo copy of The Chart '86 and ordered that one. A day later, the vendor informs me that some of their stock was lost in a previous flooding of their Yorkshire shop, and that the record I ordered was therefore not available to send.

Talk about a merry dance! Trying so hard to locate that elusive half of this compilation. There are other copies apparently available on there, but do I honestly try a fourth or fifth time? Plus they appear to be in a lesser condition. These compilation LP's were always cut with a very fine groove that gave you a quieter than usual playback with reduced bass content. That in itself requires a copy in top condition, as a normal pop or click will be rendered LOUDER when such an LP is played at listening volume!

Anyway, here is the aforementioned Graceland, as written and sung by the fantastic Boo Hewerdine, who has worked with the likes of Eddi Reader and Chris Difford:

The Bible - Graceland

Got the city on lockdown

8:54 pm : Monday, 30 March 2020  |  , , , , , ,


We now enter week two of this beloved Coronavirus lockdown. As Hannah is diabetic and asthmatic, she must stay indoors for another eleven weeks minimum, and I - apart from the daily walk to the local village shop - try to do the same. It is just a matter of finding things to do with ourselves. Last week I mowed both lawns - front and back - and also started painting some shelf units. Something I had been meaning to do, but now there is no excuse for not slapping on the paint and the wax. I shall even tackle that mould on the living room walls tomorrow. Seeing as this is a 1950s property, mould comes part and parcel.

I always thought ordering our prescriptions online would be a good idea. No more having to fill in and submit request slips and collect a couple of days later - but have it done for you online. So I signed up with Echo. For the large part it works well, but the recent goings on have seen me receive just one of my five medications - two weeks after I ordered them! Someone on Twitter was bold enough to actually post me their unused Citalopram tablets, as I had tweeted about running out, and emphasising my genuine fear of not having ready and prompt access to the tablet that steadies me. It is just not good. Thank the Heavens that some people are prepared to do what we are told not to - ie. not share medications. Well desperate times call for desperate measures.

In memory

4:44 pm : Sunday, 12 January 2020  |  , ,


30 years ago my dad died at the age of 57. It was a Wednesday night on the 10 January 1990 when I came home from work and was informed by my mum that he had died. The next day I went into work and did not even tell my boss. Instead I just handed her a note written by my mum requesting a day off for the funeral. I feared my boss that much.

He did not look after himself. My parents split in November 1979, with me and my sister being hauled off to Spain for a couple of months, before coming back to the UK to live in temporary accommodation. She had had enough of his drinking, and of his habit for speed and valium. She had had enough of her two kids finding his tablets on the floor and thinking they were Smarties. She had had enough of his yoyo behaviour. 1980 saw them divorce.

Since then, he would visit us at weekends, but live alone in Peckham in south London. One October Saturday in 1986 saw him not turn up at our home, and when my sister arrived home from work, she then hauled herself down to his flat in Peckham. No answer at the door, so the police were called. Through the letterbox he was visible in his bed, so the door was broken down. He had suffered a stroke, and just looked up at his daughter and the police like a puppy.

The rest of 1986 saw us visiting him at weekends at the King's College Hospital in Dulwich. Seeing him reduced to skin and bone, locked away inside and unable to communicate. My dad was not the same anymore. Laying there, eyes open, occasionally slow blinking, not responding to voices.

Progress would eventually come, and a Boxing Day visit to the psychiatric ward at King's College Hospital saw him once again jolly and talkative. Slightly a better person than before. Certainly the sanest person in that ward. There were people in that ward who were truly loopy. He just did not belong there, but he stayed there until sheltered accommodation was provided in mid 1987.

In 1988 there was a second stroke which largely paralysed his left hand side. His left hand was now useless and stayed in a glove, and his walk was a sideways shuffle. Worryingly, in his very limited capacity, and entirely without prior arrangement or warning, he would make the journey on public transport from Peckham to Finchley, and present himself at our home to visit. I found it hard to tolerate, as I was still a teen growing and learning, and here was this shadow of a man babbling about things from the long distant past. It may have helped me draw up an accurate and comprehensive family tree, but the randomness of the visits was not easy to deal with. I arrive home from school, walk up the communal staircase, and am presented with a brown glove on the step. Up more stairs and there he is - waiting outside our door for one of us to be home, and listen to him babble.

It was hard for my mum. I tried my best to tolerate his behaviour, but she broke more easily. He would be recalling some useless fact from the past, and she would respond sharply with: "Yes - so? What are you telling me for? I don't bloody care! Yes, and? What am I supposed to do with that fact?" Despite his very broken nature, in his mind he maintained this notion that he and my mum could somehow reconcile. How that would have worked is anyone's guess. It was hard enough for me to keep switching off the hairdryer and saying: "Sorry?", just because he felt the need to stand and talk at me about some irrelevant thing from the past.

When I learned of his death, I thought: "Right, OK. It is a shame, but so be it. We have to carry on." It was a sad downward spiral, but then he did drink, and that did not help when having high blood pressure. He suffered with depression, so probably saw little purpose in life. In the end he just existed. My mum did feel guilty when he died, but what else could she do? She had a son who was still her responsibility. She had her work to do. How in the world could she have found the strength to care for someone now broken? Qualifications are needed for that, and neither she nor I possessed those very qualifications. We were out of our depth.

We wish you an Abi Titmuss

11:30 pm : Wednesday, 25 December 2019  |  , , ,


Another Christmas done. Another successful meal cooked, presents given, cheese and chocolate eaten, cola and white rum drunk, feeling content. All despite the minidisc deck packing up last night. I guess it is foolish of me to expect more than 21 years of service from that battered old MDS-JE510. Bring me another model please!

The vinyl collection gains new additions. For my birthday in September I received Random Access Memories by Daft Punk, and also purchased Back To Black by Amy Winehouse and Otis Blue by Otis Redding. Her gift to me today was the 31 year old electro-fest Introspective by the Pet Shop Boys. It takes a lot to beat their song I Want A Dog, that is for sure, along with the latino-inflected Domino Dancing.

I am not the only one building a vinyl collection. Today I started hers off with a couple of her singalong favourites - the 1984 Billy Ocean song Suddenly, and the 1987 Starship anthem Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now. Old favourites that involve getting hands-on with. That is what makes a Christmas!

Once there was a way

5:00 pm : Sunday, 13 October 2019  |  


Like many I have purchased a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of Abbey Road. Not the de-luxe box set edition - just the standard single vinyl edition. Lovingly remixed for the occasion by Giles Martin (son of George), the result is something that is most different from that 1987 CD pressing.

Take Here Comes The Sun: for a start, George Harrison's vocal is exactly where it should be - dead centre. Not off to the right. I don't care if it was 1969 at the time! There is no excuse for panning the lead vocal to one side. Secondly, the harmonies of Paul and John have been brought out from the shadows. They were meant to be heard after all! The result is delicious.

Overall, the sound has been given a more contemporary air. Vocals are more forthright than before, and it is - for me at least - easier to digest. Some people may find it like eating a lasagne with all of the ingredients laid separately before them. For me it makes more sense. That hi-hat cymbal in the middle of Something has been given a stereo effect that suits it so much more than the deadpan mono example of the original. You may have to listen to both the original and the new one to really play spot the difference, but it is fun.

If you do go for the 3 CD version with outtakes, there is an early construction of the medley entitled The Long One. This sees Her Majesty being placed in its originally intended position - between Mean Mr Mustard and Polythene Pam. There it should have stayed, but then they knew best. It also includes an early working of Golden Slumbers, which features Paul becoming emotional as he sings the lines. The original is emotional enough, but with the addition of Paul's voice cracking up, the effect is amplified. It is truly phenomenal.

The Long One - Golden Slumbers