Friday, 28 March 2008
My feelings on Australian cricket are the same as those of any other English person of goodwill, namely a bitter and twisted loathing. The sight of the gruesome McGrath gave me attacks of Tourettes, the chipmunk faced Ponting has me giving the TV screen reflexive v-signs. Don’t get me wrong - I like Australia and Australians very much – but it’s a sporting thing and it goes deep. So why do I feel a sense of regret at the just announced retirement from first class cricket of Shane Warne?
A part, and only a part of the answer is that Shane was good – wonderfully good – at what he did. He took the previously lost art of leg spin bowling to new heights. He did things with a cricket ball no one else could have dreamed of. The expression on umpire Dickie Bird’s face after Mike Gatting was comprehensively twatted by ‘ball of the century’ was a delight. Bird had seen it all or at least he thought he had. The open mouthed expression, obviously thinking ‘whaaaaaaaaaaaat?’ says it all. Shane made it to one of the Wisden ‘Five Cricketers of the Century’ in 2000 and I ain’t arguing.
The other part of the answer is that Shane was outrageous – that would be seriously outrageous – from his peroxide blond hair to his sponsored Nike boots. As well as rewriting the record books, Shane variously managed a charge of bringing the game into disrepute (running his mouth off), a ban for testing positive for a banned substance, being accused of sending ‘lewd and harassing’ text messages, and photographs of him in a state of partial undress with various models. Not surprisingly, his long-suffering wife eventually had enough. The recent announcement that the child-man was intending to become a professional poker player surprised no-one. He also plans to devote time to a hair transplant business...
Shane Warne is an Aussie
We'll miss you - you fat bastard. It’s been a lot of fun….
Saturday, 22 March 2008
A couple of standards for part 8 of this now more than occasional series. The first is Louie Louie, which was written in 1955 in the style of a Jamaican ballad. It has been covered by everyone and his cat but the best-known version was by one hit wonders the Kingsmen. Now here's where it gets a bit weird. Rumours circulated that the words were slurred (which they were) to cover up obscenity in the lyrics (which they were not). Grubby pieces of paper with the 'true lyrics' were circulated. The FBI investigated (yes really!). On this clip someone has gone to the bother of transcribing the 'true lyrics'. No rude stuff at all except possibly when the drummer allegedly dropped his stick and exclaims two words, first word 'oh'.
The second clip is La Bamba which again has been recorded by everyone and his cat. This is the Los Lobos version (I resisted putting up the Slipknot version but take a look on YouTube - seriously bizarre). Apparently, it's a Mexican folk song in origin but the best known version is by Richie valens who died with Buddy Holly in well-known plane crash.
And Happy Easter to my readers :D
Thursday, 20 March 2008
Compliments of YouTube and fuzzily filmed on phonecams, here is a group of youths abusing Police Community Support Officers in Stockport (contains lots of rude words :-O). For overseas readers, Police Community Support Officers are not police and do not have the same powers as police. They provide - um - community support to the police as the title suggests. No, I haven't a clue what that means or what the point of them is either.
The uselessness of Police Community Support Officers can be seen from the clip. They just stand there and take it. Apparently the youths were arrested the next day but the CPS (again for overseas readers, the Crown Prosecution Service - a body that otherwise defies description) decided not to press charges. There has been a certain amount of surprise about this. Resisting the temptation to get all lawyerish, I'm not actually surprised for reasons too dull to rehearse. Anyway, take a peep and contemplate.
Sunday, 16 March 2008
Friday, 14 March 2008
Scamorama contains a huge treasure trove of scambaiting exchanges and is a wonderful way to waste time - go look see...
Oh - and one scammer even claimed to be unicorn farmer. Unicorns at $US 750 a pop. He had pictures. Nice unicorn, I'm sure you'll agree...
Oh, and he has a fan club...
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Why Nora Batty? Well, why not in the context? The word 'batty' comes to mind...
Lord Goldsmith, Former Attorney General and previously noted only for his somewhat flexible advice to the Blair government as regards the legality of the Iraq war (ummm - it's illegal - no! silly me! - it's legal :D) has been asked by Gordon Brown to look at British citizenship. He has come up with a predictable load of guff.
Most predictable is a 'coming of age ' ceremony involving a pledge of allegiance for students at 'the end of their studies' - whenever that may be as different people end their studies at different ages and stages. This apparently could include an oath of allegiance to the Queen. Those of republican opinion could pledge allegiance to the nation instead, our man opines in answer to the inevitable question.
What a load of rubbish!!!
I know US children pledge allegiance to the flag but we're British, We don't do that sort of thing. One thing we do very well, though, is take the piss. The scope for subverting such ceremonies is huge and I'd expect most of them to break down in a collective gigglefit - and rightly too.
Sometimes this government just acts as if it were a parody of itself.
Sunday, 9 March 2008
Now here's a little treat. the animation sequence from the beginning of the Grateful Dead Movie.
I don't know what to say about it. Just watch.
You can now get The Grateful Dead Movie - remastered and with additional stuff - on DVD and should do so immediately if not already in possession of this item - it's a real period piece but a total gem.
And as a bonus, the second clip is Lady with a Fan from the So Far video. Unlike the first clip, I don't much like the artwork on this clip but Lady with a Fan is such a lovely, lovely song.
The storyteller makes no choice/soon you will not hear his voice/his job is to shed lightand not to master
Since the end is never told/we pay the teller off in gold/in hopes he will come back/but he cannot be bought or sold
Saturday, 8 March 2008
This is partly an attempt to create some sort of little electronic imprint on an obscure piece of social history. A Google search for Becky’s Dive Bar produces only one direct hit – a piece of doggerel by beer writer Maximus Bibendus. His profile shows that he is a member of the Guild of Beer Writers. I was once invited to the annual dinner of the Guild of Beer Writers. I was shown a menu, which looked less like a menu than an alcoholic endurance course: eight courses each cooked in beer with accompanying beer for each course. Being a lightweight I passed. But I digress.
What was Becky’s Dive Bar? Well, it was a splendidly squalid below street level bar on Southwark Street, near London Bridge station. You entered it carefully from street level down a series of stairs, which were carpeted after a fashion, but the carpet was detached from the stairs at various places, thus constituting a tripping hazard. A former girlfriend once reached the bottom of the stairs in a rather undignified manner, with one less heel than she had at the top. There were two bars, a public and a saloon. In a reverse of the usual arrangement, the public was rather upmarket as against the saloon. The public bar actually had seats. In the saloon you sat on barrels. There was a gents. It had the most pungent catch you in the back of the throat smell of ammonia I have ever smelled. I have come across one worse gents in my life but that was in Beirut and is another story.
Despite – or perhaps at least partly because of – the squalor, it was a magical place. It served wonderful things then hardly available generally. There were no beer pumps. The beer barrels were simply put on frames on the bar, a tap knocked into the spile holes and the beer poured. The main stock in trade was Ruddles County, a beer now available in bottles in Sainsburys but then hardly known outside Rutland (for overseas readers, the smallest English county and slightly larger than a postage stamp but the location of the brewery for this now famous beer). There were also behind the bar bottles of every beer you have ever heard of, and some hardly anyone ever has to this day, plus a range of spirits. The bar was the haunt of some wonderful eccentrics. A drunken red headed Irish journalist had what seemed to be a reserved seat at the end of the bar. I once heard him recite Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ‘Wreck of the Deutschland’ word perfect from his seat, apropos of nothing. At least I think it was word perfect. I didn’t have the text to hand to check.
And Becky? Well, no-one really knew anything much about Becky. She was sometimes known as ‘California Becky’ but I don’t know why. Did she have an accent? Yes, it is called ‘slurring your words’. She invariably dressed in black. Her hair was dyed the most raven, blackest black. How old she was I cannot begin to guess but she was already pretty elderly. She drank something extraordinary. Then she drank some more. And then some more again (you get the idea). By the end of the evening she was invariably blotto. She liked my friends and me and we liked her. I do believe that she genuinely liked people as opposed to pretending to for commercial reasons. She had a gramophone. Yes, I mean a gramophone as opposed to anything more modern. She also had the most bizarre collection of records. When she put on The collected speeches of Winston Churchill you knew she was completely gone. Harry assisted Becky. He was the cellarman and had the hugest beer gut I think I had ever seen. We once got very drunk with Harry and he confided in his cups that he did rather fancy Becky. The idea of the two of them getting it on makes the mind boggle. I think he just said this for the sake of appearances. His appendage must have been anaesthetised by alcohol for years if not decades.
But damn! On Friday or Saturday night Becky’s Dive Bar was the place to be.
How did it end? Well, the local council did an inspection. They did not like what they saw. Okay, it was squalid. And their point was? Various friends of Becky including myself made desperate attempts at a clean up. For example, the grease of generations (plus indeterminate objects that had mysteriously become attached to the grease) was removed from the kitchen. Too little too late. I should have said that as well as the public parts there were two layers further underground which had formerly been a debtors prison. I went down a few times. It was a very strange experience. The cell numbers were still over the doors. They were three further subterranean layers. They were sealed off and for good reason. They were a former plague pit. ‘Nuff said. Somehow it seemed apt.
Becky’s Dive Bar was duly closed in a flurry of public health summonses from the appalled jobsworths. Nobody knows what happened to Becky. She just disappeared. The gaiety – if not of nations – at least of London was diminished thereby. If I extract a conclusion from the story of Becky and her Dive Bar it is this: there are some people for whom the usual rules ought not to apply. They don’t work for them and they add something to the richness of life by breaking every rule. They appeal to my anarchist streak. By pushing them under we are all diminished. Let glorious eccentrics be!
By the way, there are no pictures online, or otherwise accessible to me of Becky’s Dive Bar. The picture is of Southwark Street, however. I rather like it. It is described as ‘man in overcoat ambles past Poured Lines by Ian Davenport on Southwark Street, London’.
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Sunday, 2 March 2008
An exchange with Charon QC turned my mind to asbos. For the benefit of overseas readers, an asbo is an anti-social behaviour order. These orders are imposed by the courts telling people that they may not do things deemed to be - um - antisocial. It is a typically crass and controlling provision but that is another story. The exchange was about weird asbos. I did a little research. Here is some of the product.
Margaret Porter, 50, from North Yorkshire, was given a six-year asbo for attacking her brother with a stick of rhubarb in March last year.
A child with autism was threatened with an asbo because he was trampolining in his own garden and making strange noises that caused distress to neighbours.
Kim Sutton from Bath, who has tried to commit suicide four times, received an asbo banning her from jumping into rivers, canals or on to railway lines.
ANSWERING THE DOOR NAKED ASBO
Caroline Shepherd, 27, was given an asbo in April after neighbours complained about her wearing skimpy underwear when answering her door in Lanarkshire.
FEEDING THE BIRDS ASBO
Jean Smith, 60, a retired teacher is banned from putting bread out to feed the birds at her home in Burntisland and anywhere in Fife.
A Manchester Prostitute was given an asbo prohibiting her from carrying condoms.
SQUIRREL THREATENED ASBO
A couple in their 70s were threatened with an asbo for feeding squirrels in their back garden.
The asbo nonsense really says it all about the present government - illiberal, bossy and hectoring. More seriously, it is apparent that the recipients of the asbos tend to be the vulnerable and the needy and not all is comedy. Here are a couple of shockers...
One of the more shocking cases of an asbo being served involved a client of Shelter who lived with her husband and teenage daughter. Her daughter had Crohn's Disease and she was disabled and suffered from severe depression. Following the imposition of an asbo on the husband the whole family were evicted and deemed to be intentionally homeless. The husband subsequently lost his job and they have been living in the Shelter client's mother's one bedroom flat ever since.
Leonard Hockney died in jail after breaching an asbo banning him from begging.
Get rid of the bloody things!!!
Saturday, 1 March 2008
I think this will be enough rock and roll for a while, but after accommodating all choices in consultation exercise, here's one for me. It's Jefferson Airplane performing White Rabbit at Woodstock. The song has associations. Some years ago I remembered that I had decided that I wanted to be a lawyer and a writer when I grew up and that decades had passed without doing anything about the writer bit. I sat down and wrote a novel. It was called White Rabbit. I set about the dismal business of hawking it around literary agents. An agent loved it. We signed a contract. The agent sent it to five publishers. The publishers all said complimentary things about it but no offers. The criticism was that it was episodic. In retrospect, the criticism was valid. Mind you, so was Dickens. The agent suggested a re-write. My heart wasn't in it. The agent gave up on the subject. I asked my friend and neighbour Barry Fantoni to read the manuscript.
'Write another one' He said. Good advice.
So I wrote twentytwelve. I sold it to the first publisher I approached unagented. It was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award. The aforementioned agent suddenly took a previously unsuspected interest. It didn't make the longlist. Agent lost interest. So it goes. As for White Rabbit, the manuscript is in a box somewhere. There was a decent novel struggling to get out. Maybe one day I'll pull it apart and put it back together again. Or maybe not.
White Rabbit has another association. I think on some level the associations are linked. Many, many years ago I had a friend who loved the song. He'd play it all night if you didn't stop him. He left the country and we lost touch. Some years later I heard he'd committed suicide. I don't know why. I wont name him but here's to him...