Archive for January, 2012

Working class heroes?

Posted in Food & Drink, Music, Pointless Nostalgia, TV on January 31, 2012 by Johnnie

A wafer, God’s sake.  For some obscure reason, the shockingly awful song “Blue Riband Blues” is stuck in my head today.  This song, sung by Mike Berry in the 1980s’ commercial, advertised Blue Riband biscuits – lightweight chocolate-covered wafers that were “the very thing”, as my late Granny used to say, to have with a wee cuppa tea.  I remember a few arguments between family members as to how to pronounce it: Rib-and or Rib-and.  I still don’t know where to put the stress – answers to the usual address.

Actually, I hated the advert back in the day but I was a big fan of the biscuits.  Continue reading

Mouse Trumpet – the biggest band you’ve never heard

Posted in Interviews, Music, New Stuff on January 19, 2012 by Johnnie

Even in the age of endless “internet phenomenons”, Mouse Trumpet might just be the strangest band in the world. Well, today, at least. With an aversion to having their songs heard, their faces photographed or their members even named, it’s hard to work out how they intend to achieve their stated aim of being “the biggest underground band ever”. Not that asking them yields any solid answers either.

They are, as far as I can tell, a trio from Scotland, whose music sits somewhere between Section 25 and Chic – or at least, that’s the legend. They described their own music as “Experimental Rhythm Swamp-Twee” but have no music available to listen to anywhere.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to prove or verify anything.

Their method of ‘promotion’ thus far has been like a game of word-of-mouth pass-the-parcel. Continue reading

For Shame, I think I’m just too much of a prude

Posted in Film on January 13, 2012 by Johnnie

Despite the onset of adulthood, I’m still one of those people who squirms, then chortles or sucks through his teeth whenever a TV continuity announcer says that the following programme “contains sexual scenes from the start”.   I do wish Steve McQueen’s new film Shame came with one of those as a preface.  Or maybe, in my case, a warning that “those of a squeamish or sensitive disposition should perhaps look away for the next 101 minutes”.

For all that it’s called Shame, it shows little abashment when laying out, as starkly as is legal, the full, squalid horror of sex addiction.  It takes its subject very seriously indeed, thrusting it in front of your eyes and making you watch every grunt and grimace – the camera rarely averts its gaze.  Yet, even with a high number of stickily realistic sex scenes, Shame still manages to be a resolutely unsexy film.  McQueen’s crowning achievement has been to make sex addiction look as repellent onscreen as heroin addiction.  It’s harrowing stuff. Continue reading

The more things change…

Posted in Music on January 11, 2012 by Johnnie

…the more they turn into The Village Green Preservation Society. Continue reading

Memories of Bob Holness, 1928 – 2012

Posted in Dearly Departed, Pointless Nostalgia, TV on January 9, 2012 by Johnnie

Like anyone of an age, I’m very sorry to hear of the passing of former Blockbusters host, Bob Holness.  His show was essential tea-time viewing for me in the mid 1980s, being a quiz with questions I had a reasonable chance of answering correctly. Not that I was ever brave enough to apply to take part, mind you, but I did think the prizes were rather excellent. Bob was as gentlemanly and respectable a host as you could have, and in his banter with contestants and ability to cut out any nonsense showed he was a savvy choice for both the concept of the show and its time slot.   Blockbusters was always a slightly odd quiz, in that it tested the theory that two heads were better than one. So, with two contestants up against a solo one, it was always nice to see the solo ones doing well and reaching one or more Gold Runs, where all the prizes were to be won.

Bob was perhaps a little like a doddery uncle at times, but his often awkward smalltalk with contestants was all part of his charm.  It also led to some great comic moments, over and above the ubiquitous “I’ll have a ‘p’ please, Bob”.  Continue reading

My first “novel” – Never Kill Farmers

Posted in Books, Fiction on January 8, 2012 by Johnnie

It was a morning like any other.  I was sitting at the breakfast table, the television flickering and droning behind me, and I was still trying to figure out why Anne Diamond was my dad’s fantasy woman.  In front of me, Bill (for it was he) failed to notice the corn flakes falling from his spoon, and splatting into the bowl below, as he gawped at Miss Diamond in one of her “trendy” jumpers.  I could hear her laughing behind me, laughing at everything her guest (probably Stan Boardman or someone like that) said, despite none of it being remotely funny.  Meanwhile, I noticed my own corn flakes were revolting.

     ‘Mum, the milk’s sour’ I complained. 

     ‘I should hope so,’ she said.  ‘It’s been maturing in the cupboard for a week.’

     There was a break for the adverts in TV AM, so Bill picked up his giant Herald, and began laughing like an executive, pretending he understood the articles.  ‘Hmm,’ he said.  ‘I see things are dicey in Lebanon.’

     ‘How do you mean “dicey”?’ I asked.

     He coughed, as he turned the page.  ‘You know, like wee cubes.’

     It was then I decided to leave home.  Within ten minutes I had packed a case and left through the back door via the kitchen.  Neither of my parents appeared to notice me leaving.

So began Never Kill Farmers, my juvenile foray into novel writing.  Continue reading

Michael Kiwanuka? Sorry, but…

Posted in Music, WhingeRantMoan on January 6, 2012 by Johnnie

Call me an old grump (everybody else does), but I’m hugely disappointed that Michael Kiwanuka has come top of the BBC Sound of 2012 poll.  No harm to the boy at all, as he owns a very fine collection of cardigans and jumpers, but his current song Home Again is already a front runner for my most hated record of 2012.  I can’t get to the radio quickly enough to switch it off whenever I hear that delicately picked intro, just so I don’t get to the first foggy-moan of vocal.

Morning presenters on the normally marvellous BBC 6 Music seem to love it (or at least they pretend to) but to me (and those in my vicinity) it’s a vastly unwelcome reminder of dreary, plaintive, pseudo-poetic whiners of the recent past – imagine a computer programme that could meld David Gray, Daniel Powter, James Blunt and the bloke from the Wimax advert into one, and that’s Kiwanuka’s Home Again.  Bilge.

So, another fail for the Sound Of… series?   Continue reading