Friday, January 01, 2010

Hoaring himself around

A new year, a new decade, a new dawn, some new potatoes (with roast chicken and peas, I think) and a new blog to share with you both. My chum John Hoare will be spilling his guts and speaking his branes at Transistorized. Expect porn, scatology and trenchant analyses of near-forgotten Thames sitcoms. While we're here, John's other half, Tanya Jones, runs a splendid blog called Gypsy Creams, which highlights embarrassing and baffling adverts from 1960s and 1970s women's magazines. While the rampant sexism of many of the ads is unintentionally funny, my favourites are the hideous recipes made with the ingredients of what was then regarded as progress - frozen crap, canned vomit, desiccated piss in a sachet, etc. Now, I love mash, and I love corned beef (especially in a crusty roll with pickle - a favourite from the EMI canteen at Hayes when I was researching my first book), but you'd need to drug me and hog-tie me to make me go anywhere near corned beef Alaska.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Doing the BBC's work for them

While programmes of dubious merit get trailed to death, I've seen nothing to promote BBC4's repeat of the Faces' 1972 Sounds for Saturday performance. It's on tomorrow - New Year's Day - at 22.50, and having seen clips on various things, I can't wait to see it all the way through. The following cover of 'Maybe I'm Amazed' is from the show and it's just jaw-droppingly fantastic. I love Macca's original, but this tears the song a new arse. Lovely relatively gentle opening vocal from Ronnie Lane before Rod the Mod takes over, and just listen to Kenney Jones, whacking the Ludwigs in a manner that would have made John Bonham doff his cap. It's quite simply the sound of a great band at the top of their game.

Same procedure as last year?

Well, it's New Year's Eve, or as the Germans call it 'Silvester'. A rather endearing Silvester ritual is the tendency of their TV networks to put out a strange little English music hall sketch called Dinner for One (see left for its stranglehold over the New Year's Eve schedules on the regional German stations). I've explained the phenomenon before and offered the whole thing as an XviD AVI file for viewing in the comfort of your own home. As the link's now dead, here it is again, this time in the original monochrome 1963 recording. Happy Hogmanay.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Present tense

Merry festivus everyone. I hope the season brought you everything you desired. Personally, I can't complain. My main presents from Mrs Cheeseford were the Palin diaries volume 2 and Seasonal Suicide Notes by Roger Lewis (the latter of which has just provoked several laughter-fuelled coughing fits in the bath - his footnoted ruminations on the size and purpose of Billie Piper's mouth were particularly joyous) , with the rest of my gift haul being perishable. And that's the way I like it. A couple of years ago, I picked up on Mrs Cheeseford's cogitations on the value of owning a strimmer and bought her one. It has never left its box. Since then, I've bought her port, sherry and confectionery, because I know they will be received with delight and used with joy, and not stuffed in the under-stairs cupboard.

When I was a trade press hack, I became incredibly blase about books. If there was anything that took my fancy, I could probably find a copy under a colleague's desk and swap them one of equivalent value from my pile. Failing that, I could ring a publicist and scrounge one, in return for a commitment to write a diary paragraph on one of their lesser-known wards. I stopped giving books as presents because friends and family knew I'd got them free. Now that I'm forced to pay for literature once again, there are always a couple of titles in the autumn schedules that I know I'll need. I could buy them myself, but I prefer dropping heavy hints from October onwards ("Have you seen the discounts on books in Asda? Disgraceful. Michael Palin's diaries are half-price. £10! Madness.").

I should perhaps mention another book that I received just before Christmas: a copy of 65: My Life So Far by Jonathan King. I'm in the process of writing a review that will hopefully appear in The Oldie. If it doesn't make it over the editor's boredom threshold, I'll post it here. The book itself is overlong, and worth reading with a very sceptical eye, but it's rarely less than interesting. Madame Arcati's already reviewed it at length and had to deal with a shitstorm for not condemning the book and its author utterly. The orthodox view seems to be that "A convicted nonce should not be allowed to write his memoirs. End of." What about unconvicted nonces? Did anyone organise burnings of Stone Alone back in the day or even murmur slight disapproval when Bill Wyman popped up on The One Show recently? I'm really interested in the relative values at work here. In airplay terms, there's a D-notice on Gary Glitter's records, but DJs have no qualms about playing tracks from convicted murderer Phil Spector's Christmas album. Leslie Grantham must be very grateful that he only killed a man, instead of touching up the doomed cabbie's daughter.