Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Fifth Element

Will they or won't they? I wonder if anyone really cares whether the Spice Girls reform and play at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, their music and act was pretty much a style over substance affair anyway - and most serious critics deemed that not one of them possessed any real musical talent. Not even the ugly one - Mel C - who was nearly, though never quite nick-named Ugly Spice due to her plainness. Even she was not obviously blessed with talent, though it was fashionable for some to to say otherwise. It became a profound thing to say in favour of the plain one. Yeah, but she can sing. At least she can sing. She might be a tree-pig but she's the only one with talent. The one who isn't talent, has talent.

This was unfair. They all had provocative performance talent. And had any of the other Spices been de-sexualised as part of Simon Fuller's grand project to manufacture a band of five very different feminine creations to represent a nineties phenomenon called 'Girl Power' a term probably unconsciously lifted from Malcolm 'Under the Volcano' Lowry from where he described in a letter how he noticed a Roman Catholic church with a notice saying: "We want girl power for our convent," they too would've struggled in the allure stakes. None of the others would have looked all that good if they too had been made to wear trackies and trainers while the rest were encouraged to resemble a 1970s Eurovision sex and cheese-fest: all sparkly micro-minis, re-vamped hotpants, seductive glossy chiffon wraps, comic shoes, slut hair-dos and teasingly-pleasingly exposed flesh.Instead four out of the five were scripted to flaunt and taunt with their flat voices and bounteous chests. Display their youthful sparky glee, squeezed cleavages and choreographed knicker shots. While the gym section, poor Sporty, The Sporty One, did press-ups and cartwheels in a blur of addidas piping, sexless leggings and tied up hair.

Every male had his favourite. Mostly you were either in Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) or Victoria Adams (Posh Spice) camps. The others: Baby and Scary taking the minor places. No-one chose Sporty as their virtual dream date. Then again, no-one could have known that Mel C would one day emerge swan-like into a bit of a beauty with an unexpectedly revealed elegance, deep liquid eyes and cheeky smile. At the time of the SG's zenith though, Sporty definitely did the Ringo thing when choices were made. In fact popular opinion considered her as much Dingo as Ringo.

Actually, had we looked closer at each of the Spices they could all have had crueler, less flattering nick-names - Mel B (Scary Spice) was irredeemably gobby, another, Emma B (Baby Spice) was quite a shapeless lard-tub. And with Geri (Ginger Spice) being a bit all nose and the height of a pixy, and Victoria, showing the world a street urchin's face and soon to make a mockery of the Posh title by sounding like the wayward daughter of a costermonger, perhaps a more biting: Gobby, Lardy, Dwarfy, Scally Spice could have been the alternative familiar roster, with Sporty making up the quintet. Might have been fairer. Fairer for Sporty anyway.

But I digress. As only Blog writing allows. I would like to see them perform again. In all their glorious crapness. And let's watch Sporty out shine them all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blogs and Frogs

More observant readers would have noticed by now the subtle change to the banner heading of this blog. If I can't be the leader in the field of poo jokes, I can at least claim to be one. Be a poo joke. Or so I might have been thinking. In truth, it has more to do with my on-line Tourettes Syndrome. Fiddling and twiddling, tweaking a few things up, sneaking a few things in. Never letting things settle. Worrying it. Like a dog worrying a bone. Why a bone should ever feel worried I have no idea.

And talking of bones being worried, who would have guessed an ugly blue frog could become such a cult figure? He doesn't even have a full set of teeth. Could it be to do with his anatomically incorrect appendage, which generated several complaints when his ads appeared on various music TV channels? I noticed for the first time this morning whilst grimly watching the annoying little bugger, that there's some kind of mosaic-like distortion bloting out his vital area. The kind used to preserve the anonymity of people caught on camera - their faces a kind of moving animated blur giving the impression they have heads like smudged fingerprints and car index plates swirling as if under water. Weird to do this with an animated figure - guess it's all part of the joke. Not sure if Chris Martin will be laughing along with this little cutie though. Seems we are heading into....

..."Walked in the cold air
Freezing breath on a window plane
Lying and waiting
A man in the dark in a picture frame
So mystic and soulful
A voice reaching out in a piercing cry
It stays with you until
The feeling has gone only you and I
It means nothing to me
This means nothing to me
Oh, Vienna....."

Having a spot of bother with:

..."What's-a matter you,
hey, gotta no respect,
What-a you t'ink you do,
why you look-a so sad,
It's-a not so bad,
it's-a nice-a place,
Ah, shaddap you face...."

.....territory, with Crazy Frog the new 'Shaddup You Face' Joe Dolce and Cold Play taking the (forever wronged) Ultravox roll, leaving CM and the rest of us rage-dancing with tears in our eyes.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Moan from Home.

I have been staying here over the past few days. If I'm away on business, I'm more than happy with Moat House hotels as they provide the basics, and do them well. What is it they say that makes a good cricketer? Those who 'do the simple things well'. This could provide an apposite leitmotiv for the ugly mods of the hotel world: the Lodges, the Moats, the Holiday Inns and their ilk.

I've stayed in grander hotels of roughly the same classification - work budgets seldom stretch enough to allow me to stay anywhere hugely impressive - but the faux grandeur of all these faded 18th century glamour pussies, old coaching Inns and Georgian manor houses with their ancient ballroom sized eating areas, ornately decorated atriums, vaunting rumours of taunting hauntings, often supervene the clinical requirements of modern life. Like a decent shower. And a half decent TV.

The last room I had in one of the oldies, having hefted my luggage up the grand balustraded spiral staircase and tripping up over the frayed and heavily gaffer-tape reinforced axminster carpet, due to there being no lift - often the case - was a tatty and typical disappointment. The splintering sash windows provided a grand view of a million deposits of pigeon feculence on the flat parts of the turreted roof. To open the thing you needed the strength and technique of a clipper boat sail rigger. Heeeeaaave! Heeeeeaave! Hold it, hold it. Its modern equivalent presented me with a pristine UPVC double glazed window with a multitude of opening variations, a saleman's clipboard of Gordian-like tilts and catches. All negotiated by finger power alone. And due to the buildings modern architectural design - not an ornithologically generated splatter in view.

And lighting. In the oldies my first visual sweep of the room on entering nearly always throw up a couple of tired wall lights, a bedside lamp with a shade so densely constructed it can barely emit a token glow from beneath its 1970s style gold fringe. And a standard lamp. A standard stalwart, looking like Lorraine Chase might turn out on Ladies Day at Ascot. Though less radiant. And plumper.

The new places - souless as they are - hit you with banks of light switches that wouldn't disgrace the average cockpit of a fighter jet. Lights can be fired up in places where there's hardly a need for illumination. 'Want to light up that area under the sofa where you've just stashed your shoes?' Not a problem - you can bathe the room in areas of light like a concentration camp tower guard, pinging every corner and niche. True you need the timing and co-ordination of a modern scatter shot DJ mixer-scratcher, but once you have the combinations, dim will be, well but a dim memory.

Time to take a shower - travelling is a sweaty, grimy business. The popular art masterpieces in reception, the pilasters in the hallway - the stuffed otters looking ferocious in their glass cases, don't assist at all in our impressively facaded character hotels. Turn the dial, or more probably, the lever, and the shower head invariably coughs before giving way with a reluctant and staccato spouting. This presages the main action, the top-gear and full on flow, a low pressure jet-dribble as the (tepid) water groans its way through the ancient plumbing and spittles over your body like a hose pipe with a kink in it. In contrast our charmless newbies provide showers with the pressure of firemen's hoses with no kinks at all (though firemen's hoses do suggest a certain kinkiness thanks to the trend of male sexually themed calendars) blasting volcanicly heated water at you with a heat and force that threatens to remove your first epidermal layer.

Our mods provide car parks big enough to house a small zoo. The old charmers don't do parking at all most of the time. Just enough room for the old coach and four to pull up outside - you'll have to Pay and Display somewhere and run the risk of losing your wheels somewhere miles away, before wrecking your discs traisping back up a hill (these places are always high up like churches and forts) clutching your car keys and your chest.

But I'm being unfair. I'm a obviously a hotel heathen. There's more than modern comforts and conveniences to consider when staying in hotels. Particualrly when the accumulation of experiences is one of my rules of life. It's just that if I'm given a choice..

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ranting and Canting

Celebrity Love Island. My God what is going on. I have no desire to blog on this subject, except as a form of purgative like a gut relieving belch or fart. If I rant my spleen about it here, quickly, I can get on with other things. And I like moaning about shit TV.

The scene of its birth, embarrassingly transparent. A TV programme-makers focus group. An ideas forum. A brain storming session. An ideas factory. A think-stink tank.
And a question "What makes these programmes, these, reality programmes work. What brings in the punters. Come on give us your ideas?"
"Celebs?" Celebs are a draw.
"Yes. Like it like it". And what about action. What should they be doing?"
"Sex?" Sex is a yes-brainer.
"Yes. Like it. Celebs. I can see it now. Young celebs - sort of sporty, pop-type, fame obsessed hangy- onny wastrels with sex on their minds." On holiday. A holiday-type atmosphere. Young-uns always score sex on holiday.

Fortune seeking z lister-celebs with wooing and sex at the top of the agenda if they're to win their way to money and fame and more sex. Their pathetic little insignificant minds. One track minds. Shagging. All they're good for. Washed up, untalented, on-the-cusp-clinging-on-lookers and wannabe tabloid fodder.

"We'll be minted!" Conclude the programme makers. The ideas gurus.

They will be too. A guaranteed success - the public gets what the public wants. That's it then. A reality programme with none of that crap involving unknown married middle-age dowagers and doting daddies. Let's big up with the single totty, the lads-mags-lads and their muses. And make sure they're, well, if not famous, at least heard of, or almost heard of through some simple endeavour or involving some dubious overnight publicity.

Let's have Big Brother meets I'm a Celeb and lose the bad tempered Stuarts the neurotic Pennys, banish those boring Deans eating all those beans. And strumming their guitars. Badly. All those mercurial gays and their claws-out fall-outs. And honest chumps and fatty clever cloggies and weird eccentrics and dying pensioners. And all their chivalry and nice guyness and cozy nannying and cheeky grinned chappesque and cooking tantrums and kind to cute animals palaver. They don't do the sex thing see. They're there, but they're not there. See.

It's the rude slags and outrageous chavs. The beery young blokies with their cocks forever in their hands. They're the real deal. They'll get involved in the main attraction.
The dumb Jades the pneumatic Jordans. The desperate nerd-like Pauls and love sick Peters. They are the heroines and heroes of the game. They played the game. They got dirty with each other. They performed against the odds, the tutting, the forbearance of the others, against a backdrop of sexless mundanity. Despite the disapproval of other contestants they gamely tickled and teased and joshed, and giggled and shagged on mainstream telly.

Next time, let's make a programme entirely out of Jades and Jordans and Pauls and Peters and Helens, and go for it, large. Lets blanket it. Let's make Celebrity Love Island.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Village Bike

What a day for a bike ride. The risk of the main roads presaging the country lanes lying in wait. The narrow lanes, the fields, the hedgerows, ancient borders of land and byway, tangled, lush, crammed with life. The sounds and the movements. The shriek-shrill of the wren, smallest and loudest bird. The panicking partridge - guaranteed to bestow on me my first heart attack one day with its noisy flutterings and anxious clattering escapes from my wheel-whining, huffing progress. Country life. Rivers. Canals. Majestic swans; haughty, proprietorial, vaguely threatening with grey fluffy signets in tow. Downy, clumpy ug-runts of their elegant parents. "Don't eye-ball me mate or I'll gouge your eyes out," the he parent seems to want to say in local variant 'mockney-swannese' having recently heard on a passing barge TV's Tommy (Ground Force) Walsh threaten a stroppy bogus cabbie on Celebrity Stitch Up. And, like Tommy, probably means it. And, like Tommy, will stay with his (rather plainer) wife for the rest of his life. Swan's do monogamy well. As well as violence.

Country meets city. Cars (thankfully rare) swoosh past with little understanding of the unspoken etiquette. The horse fraternity, much more au-fait, politely clip-clopping their leathered-lathered and fine-boned chestnuts sedately along. You pass them with a wide berth though - rumours of kicks and bites from them trade places in your mind with the hissings and wing flapppings of swans. Both are rare.

A swarm of flies, fleas, flying insects. A living cloud. Tiny dots impossible to avoid. Seeking out the places where they're most unwelcome. The eyes - the acid sting. The teeth, the last barrier. The throat. The hit-rattle-gulp-sickener. The throat clearing hackle that suggests an instantaneous digestory eruption. Before it too, passes.

All experiences. All worth having.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad

If the sun is shining - which it rarely has so far this spring - and I feel the need for physical exercise, I ride my bike. Not to actually go anywhere, not as a form of convenient transport which avoids traffic congestion and parking difficulties. Just as a means of exercise. To just get on the bike and ride.

The preparatory rituals of the bike ride are simple. The weather is checked, damp just won't do. To walk in the rain is uncomfortable, for it to start raining while you're running is an unwelcome, additional discomfort; but bearable. Cycling in the rain is a nightmare, a watery Hell. The discomfort from being wet is amplified hugely when trying to pedal, lifting knees trapped by unyielding cloth the pedaling motion rendered excruciatingly uncomfortable. Every revolution made, a cold and claggy reminder of wind-chilled flesh and tender areas aggravated. When wet. Hypersensitised. Extra sore. Skin sore. Eye sore. Sore eyes from the rain-sweat melding, the acid rain and the sweat salty brine of smarting eyes. Tears and rain.

But the day is dry. The ride is on. The machine is brought out into the daylight. A cursory, almost unconscious maintenance routine will begin - an unwritten check list of boxes ticked off. A random numbered point check. Both tyres pinched for signs of softness. Steel-fingered squeeze, check; on to a more demanding palm depression, check. Some movement, but hard enough. The right amount of movement. Too hard would weaken the rubber's resistance, make thin and fragile the protection between it and the inflated tube which provideds the buoyancy - the float, the glide. Pressurized enough. Tread, still there. Rippling. Finger tips reassuringly buried, a tightness that satisfies. The ride's still on.

Handlebars gripped in mock ride posture, both brakes applied. Levers yielding, but not to much. Wheels locked but tyres slide with the irresistible force of the push forward. Front brake applied and its wheel locked, the rear wheel elevated. Brakes are working. Front wheel hoisted fingers gingerly enmeshed in the spokes, quick whip motion and watch the wheel revolve. Fingers under saddle, peddle grasped and turned like a wringer. Or a mangle. Chain engaged and smoothly up and down the gearing cogs whilst flicking the gear levers with one strained finger. All mechanics working, everything in synch. All safety devices functional.

And the ride is on. pedal, step, scoot, leg-swing-arc, arse planted onto the saddle. Manhood expertly displaced, comfortably arranged. Instinct. Knowledge honed during boyhood. Go easy on the sphericals. Always, always protect. Remember what happened when you didn't? The same instinct women learn as girls to keep their knees together, the better to protect their skirt-wearing modesty. Remember what happened when you didn't? If there were a law arbitrarily passed that from tomorrow all men must wear skirts, there'd be underwear flashes then so widespread, so regular, so guaranteed, that underwear as a vague sexual glimpse- excitement, would cease to be. There'd be sneaky-glimpse fatigue. No instinct. If women suddenly found they had all grown testicles that same night - two balls of incredible sensitivity ludicrously exposed and exaggeratedly vulnerable, there'd be mishaps everywhere. No instinct.

And the ride is on. Orbital rotational motion. And the saddle, occupied. That ambiguous zone reached, somewhere between torture and comfort: balance. A practiced technique, a legacy of childhood, long before physiotherapist started talking about muscle memory. As natural a movement as can be imagined. And the pedaling begins. Gripping the handle bars. Soon, a mild cramp will testify to the intensity of my grip. My legs will tire and my back will ache from the effort of one dominant posture. My lungs will feel like bursting their seams when I climb hills, the gears will only lessen the pain, not prevent it. My throat will ache and my chest will feel sore enough to suggest I might heave up my last meal. But not now. Not at the beginning. Everything is fresh. The muscles, the bones, the joints. The skin and its nerves endings. My eyes and saliva are both clear. All are ready to go. No pain, no numbness. And it feels good to be out.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Squitter(s). I can hardly remember writing it. It has set my stats alight. Every other google-type search reaching this site seems to have been in the pursuit of more squitterly information. Sometimes pluralised, sometimes in the singular. Occasionally a diminutive plural; squits, and once in reduced form, squit. But it's squitters, the full term that excites the most attention, which is strange as I don't think it is an actual world. True I've used it, but that brings no authority, my fevered mind is always searching for a word to achieve an effect, and I don't let little things like the fact that it doesn't exist get in the way of what I hope is an effective image. Squits has been around since 1840 as street slang for diarrhoea, and squity has existed for a while as an adjective to describe an overly active anal expulsive condition and used as an informal explanation: 'Im not coming in for work this morning as my botty is feeling a bit squity.' But squitters? Perhaps this is one of those 'who got there first moments' - like the literary puzzle which asks whether it was Joyce or Wolfe who brought us ground- breaking stream of consciousness prose techniques. Both had been experimenting before 1920, but only one gets the accolade. Or who invented the vacuum cleaner? Again parallel discoveries leading to a winner/loser situation. Squitters has probably been slumbering in my slang dictionaries for years without my knowledge. And, (I'm too lazy to look it up,) I'm still in blissful ignorance believing I'm coining all over the place, when in fact I'm scattering cliches with gay abandon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Richard and Judy. Quality daytime telly. I rarely get a chance to catch a glimpse these days, but I'm never disappointed when I do. I don't actually sit transfixed and watch this cozy-up, fluffy, feel-good telly, but it's good background - some good ideas like the book club and film reviews crop up and surprise you, and there's always the chance Richard's going to make one of his famous foot-in-mouth gaffes and upset the guest or guests, or Judy. This makes it a bit . . . edgy. All right, a tad edgier perhaps rather than edgy. A little less fluffy.

Richard often annoys or embarrasses his older, rather more cautious wife with reckless shoot-from-the-hip remarks and unruly behaviour compelling her to react with pained grimaces and strained laughs. This sometimes leads to a little onscreen domestic violence as slim Richard's ribs are dug into by Judy's slightly better padded elbows. She's well past dealing out the silent admonitory treatment, the 'stop it now' stealth blows are alerted by Richard's ungainly give-away physical responses and school-boyish yowls.

This seems to be the basis for their TV interviews, Richard's dangerous, chaotic freewheeling, tossing about ideas that pop into his head, riffing outside of his brief and refusing to be manacled to any prepared script. And Judy's timely interventions as his tangential style and boyish enthusiasm are expertly curtailed and brought to heel by Judy.

In today's' show Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer were on today plugging their new TV series, and virtually gave up trying to stun Richard into incomprehensible silence with their particular brand of humour chucking into the interview tricksy googlies, random absurdities and outrageous non sequiturs. Richard was there with them, toe to toe, more bonkers than them both. Their stylised madness feeding the madchild, wildchild, crazychild that lives within him. Every dip into surreality by the usually disarming Vic and Bob, Richard was there with astonishing fluency, grasping the madcappery, organising the nonsense and spinning out true and really quite funny anecdotes from V and B's incongruous juxtapositions. Judy looked on. Out of her league. No place for mumsy humour here. This is a madhouse. Judes, just keeps on smiling and waits for the next 'Tiny Terraways' type part of the show. Much more her thing.

Corn Quakes

Suddenly, oddly misplaced creatures are popping up everywhere, and it seems our Sainsbury's and Tesco's bags are to become the temporary vivariums de nos jours. Our slinky friend from a couple of days ago twiddled around a bunch of celery induced one of the classic media interviews of our time.

I heard a similar story unfolding today, and I held my breath for another surreal listening experience. Once again a snake story, and once again the spawn of Ophidian in stowaway mode has stolen the 'we're all in need of a little light relief news' section. And good old Five Live were there to report it again, and again it fell to Peter Allen to deliver the story. And how thankful they must have all been that this snake was found in a box of Golden Puffs. It always helps the 'on air' fun if an absurd pairing can be imagined to depict a humorous ludicrous contrast, a reptile most of us are predetermined to go hysterical at the sight of, and a sunny, jolly box of kiddy-cereal.

No live interview was risked this time - no furrowed brow and glazed eyes today from this homeward-bound driver. News themed text messages were encouraged however and I was unable to stop my car and turn off the engine before ' if he was a poisonous snake he could be called a cereal killer' was declared the wittiest of the day.

Tomorrow we're back to the old standby involving disgustingly shed or purposley donated parts of the human body dropped into ice-cream tubs or slopped and sealed into baked beans tins. The revenge of the bored and underpaid food-packers. To-day it's all about snakes. Snakes a long way from home.

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