It Don’t Bother Me

After work tonight I’m heading up the M6 for the first international bloggers summit in Glasgow where a weekend of middle aged men talking nonsense and drinking awaits. Tomorrow afternoon some of us are going to the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie to watch the mighty Diamonds play Queen’s Park and hopefully secure their position in the play offs. Before that, record shopping at Monorail (and maybe a pint or two).

I have been to a Scottish football match before I now recall, on a 6th form weekend away in Edinburgh in 1987. A bunch of us went to Easter Road to watch Hibs play Aberdeen. We wandered down to pay on the gate, avoiding various scuffles on the way between supporters of Hibs and the Dons. At half time almost every single person on the home end pissed through the fence onto the steps that led up to the turnstiles. An elderly man standing next to me shouted abuse at Aberdeen keeper Jim Leighton all the way through the second half. Truly, these were the days. I don’t know what Jim had done to earn this abuse other than be in goal. The old man made repeated reference to Leighton’s bandy legs in conjunction with a part of female anatomy. Within weeks Jim Leighton signed for my club Manchester United where he kept goal until being dropped for the 1990 FA Cup Final after one howler too many.

Bert Jansch was born in Glasgow in 1943 and is widely regarded as the king of British folk guitar. This track has just surfaced online ahead of some re-issues, a song recorded with Johnny Marr, the king of indie guitar, in the early 2000s. Lovely stuff.

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There Is More To Life Than This

There’s so much stuff going on right now. Head spinning. Political parties collapsing in front of our eyes and decades old certainties vanishing. Anger all over the place.

Tonight England play Iceland at Euro 2016. I’ve loved the Icelandic team and fans. England have a real banana skin waiting for them and Roy Hodgson is under pressure to deliver after criticism of tactics, selection and strategy. England out of Europe? Twice in four days?

Prior to the Icelandic football team Bjork was their most exciting export. This song off Debut is a joy, lighthearted and in love with itself. The vocals were recorded live in the Milk Bar, London. The bit where the toilet door shuts and and the beat and muffled crowd can be heard and then re-appears shows the sense of freedom and fun that Bjork and Nellee Hooper had when recording the album. I also love the way she pronounces ghettoblaster.

There Is More To Life Than This

Expectation Versus Disappointment

On the eve of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 Lord Nelson issued a message- ‘England expects that every man will do his duty… and scrape through the group stage before a draining but ultimately hopeless exit in the first knock out round against the first good team we play’. I paraphrase but it was something like that. ‘Reaching the knock out round would actually be a bonus given the woeful state of our performances and results at the World Cup in Brazil’ muttered Hardy to no-one in particular. So, come on boys, give us something to get cheerful about tonight against the Russians. A goal or two would be lovely.

Our other ‘boys’, the sunburnt travelling supporters, are covering themselves in glory, spending their evenings in Marseilles drinking their body weight in lager, taking their shirts off, dodging tear gas, battling the French riot police and attempting to take on Isis in one-on-one combat. FFS. The summer sport of hurling plastic furniture across foreign squares is one of the key features of an England campaign. Add this to the Brexit campaign and you have to assume Europe will be only too glad to see the back of us.

Another group of Englishmen battling crushing disappointment released their second new song at midnight on Thursday. After All For One things could only get better and thankfully with Beautiful Thing they have- the highlights of the seven minutes are Reni’s gold medal funky drumming and John Squire’s guitar playing, the return of the wah-wah and some nice phasing too. The guitar break at around four minutes is the definition of both fluid and liquid and the solo in the fifth minute with some backwards parts is great too. Ian’s lyrics are streets ahead of the Dogtanian nonsense on All For One, with references to crucifixion, sisters, living as one and some vague threats to vampires. It’s nothing especially new. I’m sure John, Reni and Mani can play this kind of thing in their sleep but it’s a step forward for sure and will sound huge played live.

Mellow

A few weeks ago in July Mark (who runs Cooking Up A Quiet Storm, as series of mixtapes provided by a variety of bloggers) asked for suggestions for a collective effort, a summer mixtape, inspired by the picture above. It dropped, as the young folk say, while I was in France. It is expertly sequenced by Mark and you can get it here.

My suggestion was a song I posted several months ago and remains one of my favourite tunes of the year, Mono Life’s stunning remix of Sunrise by Humberside band Pearl’s Cab Ride, and it occupies the last ten minutes of the mix. Before that you’ll find a bunch of mellow summer sounds including Goldfrapp, Laura Nyro, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and Antonio Carlos Jobim. If the sun’s out round your way, dig in.

The campsite we stayed on in the Jura was massively popular with the Dutch. I’d estimate that 80% of the campers (tents, motorhomes) were from the Netherlands. The remainder were Belgian or French with a handful of Brits. There were Dutch kids everywhere, at least half of them wearing football shirts. The parents, most of whom spoke perfect English, would talk to us about football. Football is an international language, a way in to talk to complete strangers in the sun. They love English football- a Belgian chap from Antwerp a few tents up from us wanted to know about how his countrymen Marouanne Fellaini and Adnan Januzai are seen by us Manchester United fans. His neighbour was a Dutchman who wanted our opinion on Louis van Gaal and Robin van Persie. I mentioned to him that as far as I could see the Dutch kids were mainly wearing, in descending order,  the shirts of Bayern Munich, Barca, Paris St Germain and Ajaz a lowly fourth. He became quite animated. ‘I’m a Feyenoord fan’ he said. ‘These kids only follow Munich because of Arjen Robben. As far as I’m concerned if they wear a Bayern shirt, kick ’em off the campsite. If they wear an Ajax shirt, kick ’em off the campsite’. I don’t think he was joking either. I got the feeling he may have been a fairly rabid Feyenoord fan as a younger man. He explained that in Holland the fans of all the clubs that aren’t Ajax get on quite well- they are united in their mutual loathing of Ajax. Our neighbour for our last two nights was also Dutch. He said the reason they love English football is because ‘it’s not for cissies’. Our players get kicked and get up again, unlike in Spain, Italy and France. For the record English football shirts were few and far between- in amongst all the Bayern, Barca, PSG and Ajax shirts I spotted one Arsenal jersey (worn by a French boy obvs), a Chelsea shirt and, ugh, two Man City jerseys.

Last Rose Of Summer

Yesterday was lovely, largely. The sun shone all day, in the morning I had a great cycle ride round High Legh and through Tatton Park. Later on we wandered round Knutsford town centre, poking around a few pricey antique shops, went for a cup of tea and some cake, sat in the sun for a bit. Some idiots* in Leicester town centre spoilt it a little but you can’t have everything. The late September sun was making me wonder whether this would be the last really nice day of the year, as a sunny day at this time of year always does.

Then this song was linked to somewhere by someone- Last Rose Of Summer by North Lanarkshire’s Delgados. A beautiful, fragile and quietly-noisy song. The Delgados made a bunch of fine records and were named after Pedro Delgado, Tour De France winner in 1988 and the 1985 and 89 Vueltas. No bandwidth so no download. This was from a Peel Session.

* Those idiots would be, in no particular order 1) Referee Mark Clattenburg 2) United’s panicky, under equipped defence 3) Leicester’s thug-in-chief Vardy 4) Dutch ‘genius’ Louis van Gaal who has splurged £160 million quid without noticing we have a somewhat leaky back four.

What Is The Dream? To Live Like They Do In The Movies?

This is Kosmo Vinyl. According to Wikipedia his occupation is ‘talent manager’. He joined The Clash’s team in 1979/80, when Bernie Rhodes stepped back in to manage the band. Kosmo was spokesman, road manager, fixer, mouthpiece and all round aide-de-camp to the Strummer, Jones, Simonon and Headon as they went about breaking into the USA. He introduced them on stage and is heard on the Live At Shea Stadium album, supporting the Who in 1982. Before working with The Clash he was involved with Ian Dury and The Jam.

Kosmo contributed a vocal performance to the song Red Angel Dragnet, on Combat Rock. Paul Simonon takes the lead vocal on Red Angel Dragnet, speaking/shouting about a trip through New York City at night. Kosmo adds some lines from Taxi Driver, that famous psychotic stuff from Travis Bickle about how ‘some day a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets’. Paul’s descent into late night madness, over a jerky, funky backing, then goes free association (presumably with input or written wholesale by Strummer), loads of memorable lines about champagne on ice, Alcatraz, woman afraid to walk through the park at night, the Guardian Angels, the dream of living like they do in the movies, hands up for Hollywood, saving the girl, who shot the shot that shot the cop that made him drop? Silly stuff but highly enjoyable. This version is from the Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg bootleg, a rougher mix with organ to the fore, slightly different vocals and ending, and without Glyn Johns’ later FM sheen.

Red Angel Dragnet (Early version)

Kosmo (real name Mark Dunk) married an American and has lived in the States ever since. His current occupation is managing a large New York apartment block. A West Ham United fan in exile, 3474 miles from Upton Park, he spent the 2011/12 football season producing a pop-art influenced collage of the result of every game the Hammers played that season and then posting them on his blog Is Saitch Yer Daddy? He’s been at it ever since. They were exhibited in London last year- something I only found out about a couple of weeks ago while looking for something else on the net. Here are a couple, the first one with my team beating his 1-0 at Old Trafford. No guarantees that will happen this season.

Upon Westminster Bridge

Upon Westminster Bridge is a poem by William Wordsworth. In said poem he did not ponder a difficult decision to be made regarding Motley Crue. Nigel Blackwell did, in the Half Man Half Biscuit song of the same name. In the HMHB song we also get a new version of The Twelve Days Of Christmas sandwiched in…

‘Spoiling Good Friday my ex-love sent to me
Twelve drummers singing
Eleven chairmen dancing
Ten mascots whinging
Nine stewards flapping
Eight christening invites
Seven cows a-barking
Six vicars strumming
Nick fucking Knowles
Four boring words
Carphone Warehouse and Matalan
And a pulled up at Bangor-on-Dee’

Nick fucking Knowles. Merry Christmas.

The song has many, many other delights- dry stone wallcharts, Ken Hom wok sets, iron age hill forts, low cost school trips, Ladbrokes and the return to earth of Jesus Christ and the resulting use of No Need For Nails. It is almost the quintessential Half Man Half Biscuit Song.

Upon Westminster Bridge

The other alternative version of The Twelve Days Of Christmas familiar in this household is The Twelve Days Of Cantona (the only modern footballer that really mattered).

Are you a farmer?

At this time of year, during duller passages of play, a romp through the whole song is always entertaining at the match. ‘On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me an Eric Cantona’ and so on…

‘Five Cantonaaaaaaas
Four Cantonas
Three Cantonas
Two Cantonas
And an Eric Cantona’

Dull is the game that goes all the way up to twelve.

I finish work for the Christmas holidays today. Halle-fucking-lujah.