Tuesday, October 21, 2014

That Time My Daughter Wouldn't Stop Drawing Coffins

rip sweet prinsess ur in heven wiv da angles xx
My daughter is now twenty years old, a proper grown-up doing proper grown-up things in Winchester. So I hope she doesn't mind me mentioning this.

---===---===--- Wibbly wobbly timey wimey ---===---===---

It is 1998. Girl Power grips the nation, and I have already seen Spice World: The Movie 372 times. The reason is simple - I have a precocious four-year-old daughter who loves Sporty Spice, and kicks me in the shins on a regular basis to show me how sporty she is.

She also drew coffins a lot.

"That's Princess Diana, that is," she said presenting us with a picture of a coffin, "She's going to sit up in a minute."

Then she drew one at her pre-school. We were called in.

"Is everything alright at home?" a concerned-looking teacher asks.

"Yes. Why shouldn't it be?"

"Have somebody died recently?"

No. Nobody has died.

"You see, she keeps drawing coffins."

And, by way of illustration, the teacher pulls out a picture of a coffin. It is exquisitely drawn in three dimensions, with handles, wood grain and flowers on the top. I am impressed, and say so, mainly because the quality of her coffin work has come on leaps and bounds since the first crudely-drawn box in the wake of the funeral.

The teacher is less than impressed, and wonders aloud what has driven her to such a pass.

"She's going to sit up in a minute," says Hazel, less than helpfully.

We make our excuses and leave.

"Weird parents," the teacher writes in her notebook.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Condensed Doctor Who: Flatline

If you can't be bothered to watch the whole 45 minutes of the latest Doctor Who episode "Flatline", where he and Clara - SPOILER ALERT - battle two-dimensional creatures trying to invade a three-dimensional universe, here it is condensed down to 36 seconds through the medium of Wile E Coyote and Roadrunner:


No, you're welcome.

Also, I did a picture of Penny Crayon drawing a big purple willy, but not even blurring out the phallus can make it any less horrific. Use your imagination.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Megan Washington - There There

The second in a series of "My favourite songwriters have albums out this month":

Megan Washington: There There

Not out in the UK (yet), Washo returns with her second album (third if you count the eight-track Insomnia EP) which cracked the top five in her native Australia. Long-time readers know that I haven't been stalking Washington since the extraordinary Clementine video popped up several years ago, and with a voice that could make grown men cry just by singing the phone book I'm still not stalking her.

Alles klar?

Recorded mostly in the UK (including a stint at Peter Gabriel's Real World studios) this is the sound of a rapidly maturing artist with a lot to get off her chest. There are a LOT of vocals, and with a voice like Megan's that's no bad thing - one reviewer likens her to a poet, and that's not a bad parallel to make. Some might say it leads to a somewhat crowded production where others might think less is more, but in the case of There There it's showcasing her greatest asset.

While other artists sing about generalities, Washington's lyrics are true to herself - the nomadic life of a musician, sleeping with your clothes on, and the time she didn't get married (and I saw the engagement ring, so she's not fibbing). As with all artists, it's tough to get that second album out of the way, especially when you have years' worth of your best songs in your debut (as I Believe You, Liar did), but the extended gestation of There There proves that with patience comes fine work. It's fine poetry with fine tunes.

And a small prize if you can spot the bass line from Vienna hidden somewhere on the album.

Stand-out tracks include the bouncy My Heart is a Wheel, Limitless and the closing two-parter To Or Not Let Go / One For Sorrow when she's doing what she does best - just one voice and one piano, and the hairs pop up on the back of your neck.

It's a fine set of songs, and the proof that Megan Washington is a genuine talent that deserves success.


Megan: Will this do? Now get back on this side of the planet and sing some songs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Martin Carr - The Breaks

Two of my favourite songwriters have new albums out this month, so I thought I would post a couple of highly unbiased reviews based on my purchases. First up:

Martin Carr - The Breaks

There's barely a breakfast show on the planet that doesn't play "Wake up, Boo", and as pension plans go, that's not a bad one to have. But former Boo Radley Martin Carr is much more than that one runaway success, and The Breaks show he's still got it as a writer and a performer.

You can still hear the Boo influence throughout this album - the massive production and the gorgeous tunes, mixed with more reflective numbers about the world we live in and life in general. The opener "The Santa Fe Skyway" shows Carr wearing his musical influences on his sleeve, followed up by a bouncy little number about the pros and cons of a religious education. And who can resist an album with this rhyming couplet?

"Jesus loves you," Sister Mary said
As she banged out the rhythm on the back of my head
A recurring theme seems to be Carr's withdrawal from the world of pop to a "normal" family life with all the usual responsibilities - kids to school, having no money - but he writes and performs so effortlessly, it's as if he's never been away.

A special mention at this point should go to Senseless Apprentice, a direct message to Katie Hopkins, who I am certain will love the attention.

Sounding much like the Boo's final, quite wonderful, and criminally ignored album Kingsize, there are still traces of the experimental noise that was their trademark, but not quite allowed to come to the front of the production. The result is a fine example of the songwriter's art, and we need more of this kind of thing.


You hear me, Carr? More of this kind of thing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

100% ACCURATE AND UTTERLY LEGITIMATE MOTIVATIONAL POSTERS

I have no reason to believe that these are made up in any way at all 






















All 100% legit. You have my word of honour.

(Click on pics for large version. Feel free to steal)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Starbucks: Three levels of fury

"I'm sorry sir, but we've run out of fruit toast"
"And I'm afraid we haven't got any croque monsieurs left, either. And your Americano will have to be a filter coffee. Is everything OK?"
No comfy chairs, either
There ought to be a law obliging every Starbucks to have adequate stocks of the things I like, and I would vote for any party that makes this empty promise as part of their election manifesto next year. If the other coffee place weren't such a bunch of horrible turds, I'd boycott the place.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

AN IMPORTANT CHUGGER WARNING

Just filling in time before the B Ark leaves for the space colonies
Hells bells, they're using props now.

Coming out of Liverpool Street station this morning in the pissing rain, I was confronted by a cheerful-looking dreadlocked charity collector wielding a bucket.

"Ah-ha!" I think to myself, "This seems a good cause for my small change, I think I'll tip them.. a... bit... of... blunt..."

It was at that exact moment that I realised that the bucket was empty and it was a mere prop to trick me into the orbit of a future 'B Ark' passenger.

The very word formed on my lips in blind panic as I fought to achieve escape velocity ("CH... CH... CH..." like a furious David Bowie), but it was too late, for the spiel had already started.

"You look like you're a cheerful sort of person..."

"CH... CH... CH... CHUGGER!"

Not naming any names, Greenpeace.

I repeat: They're using props now.

Monday, October 06, 2014

On getting the foot of A DEAD PERSON

To Frimley Park Hospital to see my consultant about the foot injury I have carried for the last three years.

After various ill-informed diagnoses we might actually be getting somewhere toward my dream of having the bloody thing lopped off and replaced by a roller-skate, a hover-board or something with frickin' laser beams.

It's been a battle to get anywhere, to be honest. Nightmare diagnoses include one horror-show of a GP who whisked me out of the door, saying it "would get better in time" before I even managed to get my shoe and sock off; and a physio-therapist who said (after a whole two sessions), that "You'll just have to get used to the pain for the rest of your life".

Arseholes, if I may be so bold.

So, after an MRI scan in which I sadly did not develop super-powers (unless it's one to be disappointed by absolutely everything I buy from Ebay), I find myself in the office of Lt. Col Somethingty-Something, consultant at the Frimley fracture clinic, clutching a cunningly-worded invitation to have my foot broken so that it might eventually grow back in the right direction.

"But that's unlikely to work," he said, "so we're probably having to look at other alternatives."

And this is the moment he started talking in upper case: "The best thing for you would to have part of the foot from A DEAD PERSON."

"A DEAD PERSON?" I ask, intoning with the same gravitas as the Doctor-Soldier.

"Yes," he replied, "We'll have to take various parts of the cartilage out of THE DEAD PERSON and put them in your foot."

"Wow," said, having run out of ALL CAPS already.

So, the die is cast. Exploratory keyhole surgery, then - more than likely - bits from A DEAD PERSON transplanted into my foot. Frankly, it's not an option I even entertained - or even knew about - before that meeting, so to say that I was thrown is an understatement.

Getting through all the usual laughing at my ordeal (I hope it's not from a sex fiend / foot fetishist / Olympic athlete / Jimmy Savile), I'm left - in turns - shocked, excited, slightly freaked out that there's somebody out there, his or her clock running down rather quicker than they realise, whose foot will live on in me. A genuine NOT-DEAD PERSON, living, breathing, laughing, hoping they're not going to get killed to death in a bizarre domestic accident with an electric juicer any time soon.

Or maybe I'm just over-thinking this.

And if The Transplant From A DEAD PERSON still doesn't work, I'd like the hover-board, please.

Friday, October 03, 2014

A Star Wars post of questionable taste

The Imperial occupation of Endor was not without its problems
And I'm not even sorry in the slightest.

Picture originally appeared HERE, and is worth two minutes' worth of click-through.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

All about my grandfather (Part one of two)

He died a long time ago. All I knew then was that he was a postman around those new towns in south Essex where all the Cockneys went when they were moved out of a shell-shocked east London following the war.

But, I learned much later, Arnold "Ron" Coleman was much more than that.

He died when I was - what - 13 or 14, and Other Grandad's house was where we went for seaside holidays in the summer, half terms and Christmas. He and my nan were Other Grandad and Other Granny, as opposed to my mother's parents - Green Granny and Green Grandad, who lived in Northern Ireland. Alles klar? We lived on one side of London, they on the other, and it was an adventurous road trip through the centre of town, where I usually ended up being car sick somewhere near Aunt Lou's place in Dagenham.

Other Grandad and Other Granny were champion gardeners, and every summer the five of us - my, my brother, my sister and two cousins - would help as they cleared up at the Laindon and District Horticultural Society's Summer Show. And one year, I was violently sick in that trophy.

He had trees in his garden we could climb, with apples and pears and nuts to be gorged in the autumn. And quite unlike any garden I had ever seen, he had two greenhouses. Two - and also a devil-may-care attitude to lighting bonfires that probably drove his neighbours up the wall. But we didn't care, for there's nothing a lad likes more than setting fire to things with his grandfather.

I know what you're thinking, but it was hardly an idyllic setting. He lived on a main road with cars roaring past his front door at 60mph, an iffy pre-fabricated estate over the back fence that had you fearing for your life, with the local scrotes thinking we were fair game if we were spotted in the trees, or - worse - in Stephen's tree house next door.

Some days we would arrive at his house to the most pungent smell, which indicated he was cooking his soil in the kitchen because - oh, I don't know - his plants liked cooked soil and who cares what your house smells like when there's a red rosette to be won. The outside toilet smelled like Jeyes fluid, and when he died we found about ten thousand flower pots stacked in the garage.

It wasn't until recently that I found out what he did before he moved out east to Essex. I knew that he had been NCO aircrew during the war, flying around North Africa in RAF Wellington bombers, but it wasn't until I was in conversation with my father earlier this year that I found out exactly what he did. Wow.

Old Other Grandad specialised in Middle East work, and the RAF kept posting him out to [then] Palestine and Egypt because he knew the people, knew the intelligence and the lie of the land. Presumably the language, too, of which I have picked up exactly nothing, despite exposure to Arabic every day of the last 25 years of my professional life. He was actually offered a commission, but turned it down because he preferred the perks of being at the top of the pile as an NCO, rather than bottom of the pile with the Henrys.Fair enough, I say.

Of course, he didn't talk about it, except for an outspoken admiration of "Bomber" Harris, and his delight and surprise in finding out my commanding officer in the air cadets was an old RAF comrade.

He was never the same when cancer took my gran; but he made the most of it, dropping dead on top of a mountain in Austria whilst wearing lederhosen during a holiday with his next door neighbours. His coffin, when they finally brought him back from Europe, was as big as a small car. Frankly, that's the way we all want to go.

Your author on the right. And how do I know this is Frinton and not Southend? Simple: We're not up to our necks in Thames Estuary mud.
Long gone, and I made the mistake of going to look at his house on a trip to Essex a few years ago. His beloved postage stamp front garden now paved over to fit a BMW, I couldn't bring myself to peer over the back fence for fear of the blasphemy wrought on those once well-tended borders. If I ever want to get back to those days, I only have to take the top off a tin of Jeyes, take a snort, and I'm back to that cramped outhouse surrounded by flower pots and spiders.

And if there's one thing I learned from him, it was this: "Turds" is the funniest word in the English language.

Turds.

That, and honesty, hard work, and the fact that it is possible to fit seven people and a picnic into a Mark One Ford Cortina and drive them to Frinton-on-Sea at exactly 35mph.

Thanks, Other Grandad.

UPDATE: My sister writes --- You forgot to mention the bottles of his own urine stashed in glass pop bottles in the outhouse, for the dual purposes of accelerating his compost heap and seeing off local cats and foxes - a hazardous practice in a household that also made their own wine and lemon cordial and stored it in glass pop bottles...