Jah Jah Dub

Monday, October 24, 2005

So I was watching that politics programme with Andrew Marr yesterday, Sunday AM I think it’s called, and saw an interview with John Major. He came across well. He was saying, and I agree with him, that this Conservative leadership campaign will be seen as the beginning of a sea-change in British politics. He made the point that the Tories had five (over-generous, but I’ll let it go) credible candidates, Labour, in comparison, has the one they have now and the one they will have in a few years. He also drew a comparison between the current cabinet and a prospective shadow one containing Cameron, Davies, Rifkind, Clarke, Fox, with Willets and Letwin in the back room. Anyone looking forward to a fight between that group and a shop-worn Chancellor with a bunch of no-marks behind him?

I had been concerned that Mr Cameron was insufficiently radical. Neil Clark in the Guardian puts my mind at rest.

“Gove and Vaizey are signatories to the statement of principles of the Henry Jackson Society, which has its UK launch next month. The society - named after the US Democratic senator who opposed detente with the Soviet Union - campaigns for a "forward strategy" to spread "liberal democracy across the world" through "the full spectrum of 'carrot' capacities, be they diplomatic, economic, cultural or political, but also, when necessary, those 'sticks' of the military domain"."

Should shake things up, what?

More on the despicable Jackson here.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Baker's back, and London is better for it.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Bigger Bang, then. It took me a while to track this down. I looked in the albums chart, assuming it’d be near the top, but it was nowhere to be seen. I can only assume it is selling so well it has been given its own chart to swim in. Now this is the album that is claimed as a return to some kind of form, the best since Some Girls. Let’s see then, shall we?

The cover design does not bode well. Presumably it’s a nod to An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump. This is an inauspicious start.

To stand comparison with Some Girls, there needs to be a few standout tracks. I doubt we'll find anything like Shattered or Miss You here, but just perhaps...

Rough Justice

A bluesy opening, indeed, almost a false start. Sounds fairly raw.

One time you were my baby chicken/Now you’ve grown into a fox/Once upon a time/I was your little rooster/But now I’m just one of your cocks.

This seems to be a list of animal double-entendres. Nothing wrong with that. No, these lyrics are weak. It rocks along OK – if at school a group of geeks you didn’t know too well got up and played this at assembly it’d go down well. You’d be impressed with their audacity.

Let Me Down Slow

A gentler one, this. Nice descent in the verse. You’d catch yourself singing along to this. “There’s a swish in your step.” Bonus marks for “swish”. They don’t sound like old men, which is in their favour. It’s the kind of thing Jonathan Ross would play. Make of that what you will. Blues guitar. Fine. Sure.

I Won’t Take Long

Stones song type 7a from the introduction. Sounds like Mick’s solo stuff. Frankly, I’m already looking forward to Sweet Neo-Con. Oh, the chorus is quite good, although the lyrics seem to be busked over the top – “it’ll be over in a minute… er… it won’t take long… will that do?” So far, nothing embarrassing, but no Love is Strong either.

Rain Fall Down

You know, this morning I was mopping my kitchen listening to some Stones. I am not ashamed to say that I strutted and pouted, in my mind a triumphant karaoke performance. Unfortunately I can’t mimic Mick’s drawl. I was using the mop handle Freddie Mercury-style: a case of mistaken front men. Right, this song, bit of narrative from Mick, doing a little slumming in a “filthy flat”. It’s ok, like one of their ‘70s album tracks. Probably my favourite so far.

NB Mick is incapable of making any love other than "sweet".

Streets of Love

Ah! Now this is good. You can’t help joining in on the chorus. In fact, while in Brighton the other week a fat lad sang along to this on the radio as he served us pasties. Verse about Jerry Hall, don’t you know? Probably. Whatever. Points deducted for use of word “Rubicon”.

Back of My Hand

From the title I’m expecting some misogyny here, not entirely out of character. It’s very bluesy, like Little Red Rooster, or Love in Vain. He hears a “preach-ah” on the “corn-ah”. Can’t be bothered with this one.

Note: it’s about reading events like the back of his hand, not slapping anyone about.

She Saw Me Coming

You don’t need to tell me that there’s a play on words on “coming” here. It’s good though. If I didn’t know who this was I’d quite like its cheek. I’d give a little cheer the second time I heard it. "Burgalised"! Brilliant!

Biggest Mistake

Ballad time. I must apologise for the dreariness of this post. G4 was more fun for two reasons:

1) It was G4. They don't do much, but they give with both hands.
2) I’m not drunk.

Nothing needs to be said about this song.

This Place is Empty

Who's this creaky bear? It's Keith!


Oh No Not You Again

Rock again. It's spirited, I'll give it that. What time is it? Half eight. Fine. Ooh, he said "fuck". Crazy.

Dangerous Beauty

Intro sounds like Kiss. He's talking about someone's "high school photo". It's the usual, you think you're hot stuff. And there's a mention of "the Chiefs of Staff". Can this be the same man who wrote Let it Loose? Weak.

Laugh, I Nearly Died

One of the stronger tracks. The vocal actually sounds relatively sincere. They should probably stick to songs of heartbreak rather than the priapic stuff.

Sweet Neo-Con

Yes! The one we've all been waiting for... I can barely wait. Play.

Now if you're sixteen, high on the NME and Chomsky and you wrote this under your covers, your face flushed in revolutionary fervour... I'll let you off. But... And imagining their smugness as they recorded this, believing themselves to be sticking it to The Man makes it all the worse. They also make the classic error of not really understanding what a Neo-Con is. I don't think it is typical cynical power play, I think they mean it maaaan. That may scare you more, and art could show this sincerity as terrifying. This is not artful. Nice harmonica though. Without the lyrics this would be alright.

Look What the Cat Dragged In

The beginning sounds like INXS. This seems to be about an old guy asking where his gadabout ladyfriend - or possibly children - have been. He's having a coffee, reading the papers and who turns up? Only this stop out! And you know what? It's pretty good.

Driving Too Fast

A youthful-sounding band again. Mick sounding very un-Mick. Waiting for the chorus... Yes, I'd listen to this again.


Keith again, right at the end. Curious. Now, it's inconceivable that they haven't seen Carry On Cleo, so the Infamy/In for me pun I'm taking as a nod to Kenneth Williams. Well done, gentlemen. For a Keith song it's alright. He sounds lucid, and the voice isn't too shot. Once again though, the lyrics need work - it sounds like he's making them up at the time. I'm enjoying the harmonica, and the strange, boing boing boing noise in the background.


If you like the Stones this is worth having. It's certainly alright. On first listen, 6/10, but I could see it rising as high as 7. I have no idea why there are so many tracks. If they'd dropped four or five of them, they'd have a decent album. Although I didn't enjoy this process as much as before, I think there's life in the formula, I just have to make sure I drink first. I could do it with today's other purchase, "Come Swing With Me", but I suspect there'd be little more than "Great!", "Magnificent!", "Brilliant!"

UPDATE: Listening to Look What the Cat Dragged In again... You know, it might just be fantastic.

UPDATE 2: It is fantastic.

To go with, “Let me guess… you’re in a hurry!” it seems like the charity-beggar-graduates who think an office job beneath them have come up with a new ruse. The men may do this too, but they haven’t tried it with me yet – perhaps surprising given the sectors that have traditionally shown interest*.

Hey. It’s me.

Subtext: We slept together, remember? We had a good time, didn’t we? You don’t remember? I can’t believe you were that drunk. I’m hurt.

Just enough to make you think... Then you’re trapped in a conversation. Had I cut a swathe through the Union bars and nightspots of London in my bachelor days I might have been given pause.

But I was not snared by this willowy blonde; I am invulnerable to this trap.

* Homosexuals; adolescents; foreign students.

Remember this review I wrote about G4’s album? I’m planning to do the same tonight for the Rolling Stones’ new-ish, “A Bigger Bang”. Just to give you a heads up.

Part of me has always known this, but it's taken me until now to actually test the hypothesis - Kate Bush's Hounds of Love album is very good, isn't it?

The flat does not have walls, it has a semi-permeable membrane. There is no division between inside and the garden: slugs laze on the kitchen floor; worms hang around on bathroom walls; but mice, mice have the most fun at my expense. They play peekaboo with me. I catch them in my peripheral vision, calmly observing me from doorways. They leave me with no choice: I have broken out the sultanas. And note well my friends, these sultanas will not encase sleeping tablets, they will lead a trail to the pads of traps.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Primetime is a fine time. We all know that. But I find my loyalty wavering. There are good things to be found on Radio 2, you just need to dodge the modernizing content. I was listening to Terry Wogan this morning. It’s a baffling show, avant garde, almost. In-joke after in-joke. Of course TOGs.

All civilised people agree: one weekends in South London. Saturday, promenading on Lordship Lane and its environs, I saw in quick succession two of my childhood heroes: Stephen Frost and Jerome Flynn, stars of my favourite comedy and comedy-drama respectively. I would have said something to them, but they were deep in conversations, and besides, it was fourteen years too late for me to care.

Sunday, and Greenwich stirred my naval blood: and I liked London and I liked England. I stood beside the observatory; I looked out over the city; my breast swelled and I shouted, at the top of my voice:

This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

I didn’t really. It was nice though.

He performs at a consistently high level, but I think VinnieK may have just produced his finest ever post.

Remind me, what's so good about the UN?


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Following a few of the comments after the Wallace and Gromit post, I’ve been thinking about why I do like them. Partly it is because they remind me of childhood, of films watched with parents; in my old age I have become ridiculously melancholy and sentimental, and I find the plasticene helps. Part of it is that they portray a world where the sixties never happened (some say, “the North”): as we all know, with the exception the albums Frank Sinatra made with Antonio Carlos Jobim and Duke Ellington, nothing culturally worthwhile has been produced since 1959. There was a time when the barbarians were without and the gates were still sturdy.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A quick notice: the non-book/karaoke club will meet three weeks today - plenty of time for you not to read A Confederacy of Dunces.

So it turns out that I can replicate my sophisticated visual style using Microsoft Paint. A self portrait.

Phase Two

The mice suffered an early casualty but have since lain low. They refuse to commit their troops; they dare me to come in and flush them from their secure hiding places. I have called their bluff. This morning I launched the next step of the campaign: resources had previously been deployed defensively, but I see now I was too cautious. The lesson of the Maginot Line is hard learnt.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Could the definition of a try-hard be someone who pretends they don't like Wallace and Gromit?

Review of the film here.

Oli, this one's for you mate.

Note to Polly Toynbee:

Great article, just a few thoughts:

1) Don't say things like "Adam Smith's hidden hand of the market would force the workless into work..." or "Globalisation does not apply to the service sector..." when you have no idea what you're talking about.

2) Tutting at those who want Britain to withdraw from the 1951 UN refugee convention could be seen as a little hyprocritical, coming as it does from an isolationist little Englander.

3) Try not to be so rubbish.

Other than that, good show. Keep it up!


Monday, October 10, 2005

Kaletsky on Germany again.

Dan has a new serious blog. Go, comment, go back, comment again.

You know what's actually surprisingly good? Rock School.

Also good, but less suprisingly, is the new exhibition at the better Tate.

Other news: my camera's working again. Expect pictures of hamsters soon.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Night One

I saw a mouse.
There on the stair.
Where on the stair?
Actually, just past the stair, peeking out from under the cupboard door.

Night Two

Traps have been bought. Traps have been set. A trap has been sprung. First blood to man. The mouse is body-bagged and taken from the field.

Night Three

A trap is missing. Investigation reveals it is tight shut, two feet from where it had been placed. The conflict becomes something else: now we have a contest of wits.

And so it begins.


Friday, October 07, 2005

I was taken out again last night. We went here: I recommend the quail. But we also went here. And here. Both were ghastly. I took a cab home, the first I’ve hailed since I’ve lived in London. The cab will be claimed as expenses.

I had to run for the bus this morning.

My head hurts.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Having watched Room 101 last night I fear that I may have severely underestimated Gyles Brandreth.

UPDATE: VinnieK knows what time it is.

Would anyone like to join a book group? Here’s how it would work. Turns would be taken to select what we were to read – I’d get the ball rolling, but if there are any takers, the first person to get back to me would get next pick. On the last Thursday of every month we would meet in a pub and talk of this and that. Then we would go to The Feathers and sing karaoke. Open discussion of the book would be prohibited: it is undignified to talk publicly about a work of art, especially of its language, symbolism or themes. A whispered “I liked the bit where…” to a neighbour would be acceptable but not officially encouraged.

First up is John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces”.

All welcome.

The brilliant career of Ronnie O'Sullivan.


Monday, October 03, 2005

So yesterday I had “a kickabout with the boys” then went back to theirs “to watch the match”. How "new lad". But it was tons o’ fun: that I can neither dribble, pass, tackle or shoot did not prevent me from performing many achingly slow stepovers.

Of course, any babies I passed the last time I exercised* are now in high school... Today I can hardly walk. I feel like a couple of big lugs bundled me into a sack and gave it a going over with bats.

“Let me go!”
“Can it shitbird.”

* I am not counting the gorilla run. Or rather, I am refusing to acknowledge it.


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