30 December 2006

The Smell of Christmas

I’ve just returned home to the most appalling smell. It’s not corpses or distressed lavatories - something far worse – gloss paint. It appears that in the short time I was away, the downstairs neighbours have decorated – Decorated with the cheapest most noxious gloss paint in existence. If I pass out as I write this, do not be surprised – It’s not like I’m even getting high off it. Why have they done this? The premises are rented, so they’re not even allowed to deface its beigeness. Perhaps they have actually done it to mask the smell of corpses – they did seem to be rowing on Christmas night. I think I’d prefer this to the idea that they had endured the soul destroying shop-shutness of Christmas day, preying for the wondrous moment of Boxing day morning when they could hit the Homebase sale, colour charts in hand, to acquire the toxic tones to reheat their love nest. Whichever explanation is the true one, if they are down there, they are almost certainly dead – another festive tragedy in this anonymous city..
I was here on Christmas day by the way -completely alone and quite happy. The solitariness was more or less self-inflicted as I’d had tentative plans to meet others in a similar position to me – When push came to shove ,we couldn’t quite be arsed to walk down the road to exchange Yuletide greetings. I’m finished with religion anyway - Sod em all. I tried to get Ava into a C of E primary – for the usual selfish reasons - but due to very real marital turbulence, which might actually have benefited from some pastoral guidance, was unable to affect the necessary weekly enlightenment in the pews. Just as well in fact, as her heathen primary school is superb - although for some reason, she thinks Jesus is buried in Austria, and claims to have seen his gravestone.
My Tony Hancock style day was spoilt somewhat by the termination of Soul Brother Number One. I’d wanted to sing ‘Eleanor Rigby’ all day, and darn socks, but I couldn’t help breaking into ‘I Feel Good’ , then throwwing a cloak over myself.
Before you tire of my moaning, or attempt to draw me to your humane breast, Boxing Day was a blast. Picked Ave the Rave up from her Mama and did Christmas properly. Had an argument with my sister, wore a funny hat and had a revelation – Toys are a waste of time – Children want Whoopee Cushions…and so do I.
Done- thank gawd – another birthday. No awfulness, no extreme wonderment, no religious conversions, unexpected sexual intercourse or presents of such beauty and value that I am forced to reconsider my long held beliefs that the human race is essentially fucked. Functional, that’s what I’ll call today.
Has anybody ever had a truly extraordinary birthday, received something that was really unexpected – something to take the breath away without being crack cocaine or a bullet?
A few years ago my mother gave me a coffin – hopefully not wishful thinking. A miniature snuffbox from an antiques stall, which now entombs the biggest wasp I ever slayed. This year it’s classical cd’s. Excellent ones, although none of the composers hail from my favoured present location – I’m going through a Gloucester composers phase, in exactly the same way I went through a Velvets, Suicide and New York Dolls,NYC phase. As far as I know, Vaughan Williams unlike my other hero Lou Reed, never provided the music for a Kung Fu video.
Anyway, today has been utterly delightful. Cakes, shaving soap wrapped with a whole roll of celltotape; my daughter’s first ever cinematic experience – The wizard of Oz at the Hampstead Everyman with cake and Coca Cola - which made her brave enough to endure the Wicked Witch of the west and her flying monkeys - bollocks to first teeth, that’s why we get two sets….followed by more grown up pleasures in the boozers of north London, with the stragglers of the festive exodus.
I am presented with a terrible moral quandary however. In the process of receiving gifts from my old drug buddies I seem to have acquired the Christmas gifts of a lady called Maria. We’re talking a Tesco’s bag containing … a coconut milk massage bar of soap, some floating magnolia floral bath roses, and a book by Victoria Hislop, ‘ The Island’ which comes highly recommended by Richard and Judy. The pub from which I retrieved these items was staffed by unpleasant types, so returning them would in all likelihood just lead to a nasty barman smelling of coconuts, while roses floated in his bath. The ladty to whom they were directed is called Mariaa….oh Fuck, I’ve lost the card. I thought this would be a festive blog with a happy ending and Maria could claim her presents. All I can remember is that the card was also signed by a dog named Shep with a paw print.
My intentions were really good, but if I don’t find the card what can I do? If you see me in the new year and I smell of coconut massage soap, don’t blame me, blame drunken Maria - who hated your paltry gifts so much that she left them in the boozer.

23 December 2006

The Fog Blog

The Fog.


Is it just me, or is everybody enjoying the Pea-Souper which is shrouding the nation? Flights grounded ( a fine oxymoron), wreaking havoc with the festive plans of frequent flyers, unable to get from Scarborough to Halifax via Gatwick and John Lennon airport. Don’t people realise that we have a perfectly functioning canal system, and that it is possible to walk from Lands End to John O’ Groats in just under two hours?
Ahh, another swirl is rolling in, enveloping my street/senses ( bad poetry impulse alert.).
God I love this fog - it’s properly old fashioned and macabre – like a funeral in the good old days, when Laudanum was available at Boots, and even our serial killers were the Prince of Wales
I’ve been overdoing things slightly, and am having trouble sitting upright, let alone thinking cogently. Should this festive address be deleted by sober journalists (is that another oxymoron?), I will completely understand.
Before condemning me out of hand, I’d just like to fill you in on the utter bleakness that lies ahead over the coming days. Not only is it the birthday of our Lord Jesus and Shane Macowan, it is also mine. The twenty bloody third of December - wretched. No chance of enjoyment, as everybody except yer good old fashioned cockernee chimney sweeps will be bedding down at Heathrow waiting for the fog to clear. Christmas eve involves some driving, so a clear head is required. The fact that my birthday falls practically nine months to the day after my late father’s, also conjures up unpalatably tasteless visions of candlelit spag bog, Cinzano Bianco, Max Bygraves, and the Brentford Nylons Riviera range - Be glad that you do not live in my head.
By the way, if my dear mother is reading this, please take note. If you have booked a table at The Fondue Pot again, I shall run away and join the foreign legion.

2007 and What it Holds

2007 and What it holds.


Fortuitously, just as 2006 draws to a close, I have chanced upon the future of music, it’s next great life injection; one that should sustain it for many years to come. Why me you might ask? Me whose contribution to music thus far has consisted of little more than youthful preening, burning holes in the ozone layer with endless hairspray applications, wallowing in abject onanistic misery, and some tongue in cheek cynicism that the over thirty fives found mildly amusing for about a day and a half. Answer is – I don’t know – except, I always knew I was blessed in some way. Destined to leave the planet much better than I found it - and be celebrated as an Avatar of greatness of some sort…a fuck-off monument at Highgate cemetery awaits.
Formerly, I’d imagined the flesh of this vision to be another leather clad rock’n’roll messiah…except I wasn’t quite saucy enough – only just. Then a poetic chronicler of humanity in a charity shop suit, who could still pull the ladies…sadly it had already been done – and by much better than me. Then - I was condemned to years of surfing the zeitgeist – actually holding the towels for the surfers, despairing that my moment would never come – but tonight dear people – IT HAS. I’ve stumbled across the triple helix, enigma machine, dead seas scroll, Piltdown man, Da Vinci code. And it’s only half past eight.

Before I carve this delicious butter roasted organic turkey - who actually volunteered himself for destruction, cremation and mastication down the piste of your discerning, well bred, well read gullets, down to the hellish caverns of your - expectant, sugar almond and ginger-wine cobbled guts, let me fill you in on a few preliminaries to set the scene – a drop of Baileys to lubricate your festive death hatches. We’re not talking a laboratory in Cambridge with Harris tweed, corduroy and leather-patch wearing wunderkind -We’re talking a studio flat above a garage in North London, with underachievement, alcoholism and imminent death.

This week, I became another crime number in the metropolitan police’s little red book – another one night stand. The CD player was removed from my vehicle by persons unknown - without my consent. My 74 litre Porsche 4x4’s ( actually a VW Polo) contents were strewn inside the vehicle as the miscreants searched for items that might be of value at the crack house. Amazingly, not one of my CD’s was deemed worthy of theft.
Beneath the drivers seat of my assaulted and still distressed motor car, almost beyond the reach of human fingers, lay a cd of Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije Suite. You know the one…la lala lala la la lala la la lala la la lala la…Troika…’I believe in Father Christmas’…come on Guardian readers, you do know it.
As it happens, my dear daughter Ava has been singing it for weeks – rehearsing it for her school carol concert – which has now taken place and was divine…even though she burst into tears on learning that there was still half a day’s schooling left at the end of it and that we weren’t taking her home. Anyway, being a clever, thoughtful dad who likes to pull together life’s various strands I retrieved the cd and played it. Scratched to buggery – and not I think, the malicious act of Chalk Farm’s junior drug addicts – although my insurance claim form will almost certainly dispute this.
For the past three hours, I have been listening to the most random, disjointed digital loops of classical music it is possible to imagine. Beautiful textures, orchestral sequences, winding back on themselves, no linear sense at all, but still providing a gorgeous, orchestral soundscape. If I write some lyrics, raps, and hire some sexy backing singers to shimmy and shake in the background, I’ll be onto a winner. Think Howl, think TS Elliot, think Grandmaster Flash…Being articulate over scratched CD’s. the oracle atop the rubbish heap – how radical is that?..it ’s a rhetorical question by the way.
Also in 2007…probably with the money from my cd-bits hits, I intend to form a political party to win the elections…something like The English Renaissance Party or something – where we all check into hotels and save the nation…and I want to come off anti-depressants at some point. Not sure when.

Last bit. For Divorced Dads.

Daddy. " Ava, can I have a little chat with you about Christmas?"
Ava " Yes."
Daddy " Well this year, you’re going to have two Christmas days – one with Mummy and one with Daddy. Do you like that idea?"
Ava " No. "
Daddy " But why not?"
Ava " Because I want to spend both of them with Mummy. "

Merry War. Christmas is Over.

15 December 2006

Waxing Lyrical

I’m listening to the world at one on Radio Four. Government figures have just been released, stating that a million and a half young people are idle – that is: Not in work, not in education and not in training. Experts are expounding, politicians are biting and hot air is being blown. Before you begin to worry that I might be about to say something constructive – fear not. My concern is that these young people are classified as being between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five. That’s a bit ageist isn’t it. What about the slightly older young people who are idle? Those in their very early forties perhaps?

Yes, here I am again, the middle of the day, still caressed by dressing gown, wiping the sleep from my eyes, and chain chewing nicorettes. The sky is leaden, the trees skeletal and the TV aerials shake like ancient relatives. It’s at times like this that the greatest danger exists for the creation of bad poetry, miserable songs and the kind of introspective tosh that: should one fall between the ages of sixteen and twenty five, might be acceptable, but for the more grown-up among us, would be quite unforgivable.
For the benefit of young wordsmiths, staring from the windows of the nation:
Autumn leaves rhymes with trees, disease, sneeze and cheese; rain rhymes with window pane, most forms of physical pain, never again and embarrassing stain. But- I’ve tried all this – it doesn’t sell. Go for a walk instead…it’ll clear your head…and you won’t wish you were dead.

Anyway, I shall endeavour to accomplish something of beauty and value by the end of the day – even if it’s just un-blocking my ear. Is it just me, of is their an epidemic? The sinus pain has abated, but the right lug is still blocked. Do you think Pete Doherty might lend me a syringe?

08 December 2006

Blue Plaque

It is with immense pride, that I can reveal to you, that my birthplace and childhood home has been marked with a blue plaque. I didn’t attend the unveiling ceremony, preferring to remain asleep, and by the look of things, the burghers and dignitaries of Wokingham weren’t there either – not even the Rt Hon John Redwood MP – which is unusual.
Of course, my commemorative plaque was an unofficial one, placed there in the dead of night and photographed, by deranged fans, intent on correcting the omissions of the National Trust.

Of course this kind of activity should not be encouraged, leading as it might to all sorts of unpleasantness with the authorities, present occupants, and one’s own high standing in society. However, at my present level of popularity, I am not in a position to exclude any body purporting to be a fan, based merely on outdated and bigoted criteria such sanity and risk posed to the public. Anyway, the plaque looked excellent, and must have taken ages to make.

I would be prepared to wager that even Jodie Foster must have felt a slight tingle of satisfaction when her deranged fan took pot shots at The Gipper on her behalf. Obviously she couldn’t say so at the time, and will perhaps have to remain forever schtumm…but it sure beats chocolates as a way of saying " I love you."
I suppose that using a national newspaper to solicit crime is against editorial policy, but should anybody out there feel like having a pop at George W Bush - as an early combined birthday and Christmas present for me, it would not go unappreciated…just keep my name out of it please – and bear in mind – you would not be able to claim derangement and insanity as a defence against this particular individual.

On a sadder note…not for you perhaps, I am afraid that I’ve got a head cold. One ear is completely blocked, and I have awful sinus pain. I flitted in and out of sleep all night, a dull pain attacking my upper gnashers, while across this wretched planet, Shane Warne destroyed the last vestiges of hope for a bright new dawn. And I’m smoking again and I don’t care.


Enter your e-mail address to receive occasional updates