Monday, February 27, 2006

Achosion I Laweni #1

(That's "Reasons To Rejoice" to you.)

Yes, long overdue, it's the first installment in the new Cardiff equivalent of the Reasons To Be Cheerful series. The idea remains the same: I'll explore the city and write about the places, events, people etc that give Cardiff its appeal.

So, without further ado...

#1 - Chapter Arts Centre

Where better to start than with somewhere I've already been three times and which is very likely to become something of a second home?

A short walk from the Millennium Stadium, Chapter is an all-in-one arts centre of the highest order incorporating two small cinemas, a theatre space (which doubles as a gig venue) and an art gallery. No wonder it draws the city's culture vultures to it like a bloodied corpse.

But its attractions don't stop there. It also boasts a cafe and a splendid bar that is every bit a match for that of the more self-consciously swanky Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. An enormous range of continental lagers is available in bottles and on draught. Of course it doesn't come particularly cheap, but then this is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan drinking venue a couple of leagues above the pubs of the nearby Cowbridge Road.

As you might have surmised, thus far the bar has been what has drawn me to Chapter most often, though I've already attended one gig there. Visits are likely to be frequent in the next few weeks, what with screenings of Michael Winterbottom's 'A Cock & Bull Story' and the appearance of Stewart Lee pencilled in the diary. Maybe I'll just get them to set me up a camp bed?
Right to reply

Well, it was bound to happen sometime. It's just a surprise it's taken so long - as I reflected over on Pete's site when he was the recipient of similar comments.

Following last week's gig review, this comment has appeared:

"A friend of the Band found this blog by accident. It's a shame the person reviewing our gig didn't have the balls to tell us what they thought of us to our respective faces and the crowd that came to see us when he saw us play - oh the joys of the internet.

I appreciate we're not everyone's cup of tea however, I find it lazy journalism to write us off as a Stone Roses clone.

Finally, I would probably have been more concerned about this short paragraph slating my band but it would appear that this website is very rarely used by anyone that may have a worthy opinion so I'll be sleeping easy tonight.

See you on the way back down eh lads?

Delta Red

On the whole I think this is a restrained mud-slinging-free response to what was, with hindsight, a pretty sharp review, so the least I can do is dignify it by responding in kind.

First up, while I can see it might be unsettling for bands to think there are people lurking in the crowd waiting to pen critical reviews, it's part and parcel of being in a band. Put yourself on a stage and you're there to be shot at (just as I am by putting myself on a virtual stage here - you had every right to reply). That said, I don't set out to take pot shots at bands, especially not at those who are just starting out. I call it as I see it, without intentionally setting out to cause offence.

Introducing myself to the band and explaining my views? Not always practical, and that's not just a get-out clause. I've spoken to plenty of bands post-performance, though - this isn't about being a faceless sniper. And telling the crowd what I thought of the performance? Well, I have done - if people are interested they can find the review here via Google. The implication seems to be that I should have taken to the stage between sets to deliver my verdict orally. Er, right...

Was the Stone Roses comparison "lazy journalism"? Perhaps, but then it sounded like lazy indie to these ears, I'm afraid.

Delta Red certainly weren't my cup of tea, but (and the review didn't mention this, admittedly) they went down very well with many of those present. Which, of course, leads onto the final point. This site has, ahem, a modest number of readers, and is the vehicle for the opinions of one person - so to shrug off the review as the ravings of one lone gunman is a perfectly reasonable response.

Not quite so sure about the slight on the worthiness of your opinions, readers, but there you are...

The band member who left the comment didn't leave an email address, but if you're reading and want to come back on any of these points, then feel free to contact me at Let it not be said that communication is unidirectional with this site...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006



Wandering Scribe - A law graduate currently living in a car in woods somewhere near London writes about her experiences of being homeless (this is a recent and very worthy recipient of the Blog Of The Week award over at Swiss Toni's Place)

This Blog Will Change Your Life - "My year-long adventure following the daily instructions presented in This Book Will Change Your Life by Benrik Limited as closely as possible without getting arrested or dying..." (via Parallax View)

Scarecrow - A .blogspot site, but more a fully-fledged literary site featuring reviews, short fiction, poetry, essays and interviews (via one of its contributors, Wan)


No competition for most powerful post of the week: Reluctant Nomad is confronted with the news of regular reader / virtual friend Felicitas's suicide, and her spiteful yet somehow affectionate parting shot.


On a tangentially related note, Gordon writes about making sudden discoveries about those whose blogs you read avidly - "As you read you start to build mental pictures of people, their opinions and their pet peeves, yet we don’t know the person at all".

Forksplit is writing a book - "The first time I started writing the book, I opened a new Word file and sat staring at the blinking cursor. I smoked a cigarette and stared at it. I ate a microwaved Amy's Organic Breakfast Burrito and stared at it. I couldn't write. So I went into my blogger account and opened a "New Post" window. And immediately started writing. There was something about that format that just felt right. I wrote just like I always do on the blog".

Jonathan catches the NME Tour in Brighton - "As great as the Arctic Monkeys were, it's plain that the right band are headlining tonight; Maximo Park, unlike the young whippersnappers, have simply honed their act to perfection, and the extra few years that they've put in have rendered their songs as tight and lean as you could imagine".

Kenny reports back on gigs by Broken Social Scene and The Magic Numbers.

Alex and Valentine's Day involves a trip to see an Anglo-Italian horror movie - "The plot of 'The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave' is as convoluted as the title, and centers around one 'Lord' Alan Cunningham. He's a millionaire playboy type character - sort of a cross between a less-charismatic Lord Summerisle and Bruce Wayne, except where Bruce has a batcave Alan has a dungeon, and where Bruce fights crime, Alan likes to pick up red-headed prostitutes, take them back to his castle, and murder them while babbling about his late wife Evelyn".

Jonathan kidnaps a new friend and takes him "on an impromptu whistlestop tour of [Manchester's] night-club queues".

And finally...

Laura tries speed-dating for what may have been the first and certainly is the last time - "'Well, I'm really good in bed. Really good. I can go all night'".
Mmm K

The latest installment of the A-Z Of Music feature is up now on The Art Of Noise, including pieces on Killing Joke, Nat 'King' Cole, Kraftwerk, The Kinks and, er, Kevin Keegan. And - mercifully - none on Kula Shaker, though it seems to have been a close call.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Animal instincts


I honestly wish it wasn't the case, but there are just some bands that invite and compel me to make critical and snide commments. Delta Red, bless 'em, are just such a bunch of unfortunates.

For many of those assembled, there's nothing whatsoever wrong with what they're selling - neat, tidy and predominantly upbeat indie of a distinctly Mancunian variety. Me, I fucking hate The fucking Stone Roses and The Bluetones and think any individual or band who adopts that Liam Gallagher / Ian Brown upwards singing pose when stood behind a mic should be stoned to death. I gnaw on my fist silently to one side of the stage. "Where did all the good times go?", they ponder. Well, I can feel myself getting older and more terminally bored by the second.

So thank fuck for Lovemat, who, having escaped the asylum their native North-East for three days, are hungry for blood. The venue couldn't be much more suited to them - a few doors from Rock City, the Horn In Hand is also aptly named in that Lovemat come on like priapic werewolves intent on impregnating some of the local maidens.

Buoyed by the evening's football result and relieved at the lack of sound and electricity problems that blighted last night's set in godforsaken hellhole Mansfield, the Geordies set about their task with relish. New single 'Between The Lines' - salivating with disgust, propelled by a splendid riff - opens proceedings, with much of the debut LP The Fearless Hair Days Of Youth following. There's a local flavour to 'RSVP' (about Newcastle's Bigg Market) and 'The Battle Of Falcon Hill' (about their home town - "Small song, small town", vocalist Paul Kell says). You wouldn't want to taste these songs, though - you don't know where they've been. Or, rather, you know EXACTLY where they've been.

While guitarists Frank Major and Kenny Luke are by and large a picture of cool restraint holding things and themselves together, bassist Danny Bray and the hyper-animated Kell fling themselves about with abandon. Drummer Chris, sporting a superb handlebar moustache, begins dressed like a dapper Victorian gent in shirt, tie and waistcoat (only the pocket watch is missing) but by the time he's gurning his way through set-closer 'Lost In The City' he's partially stripped off and punching the cymbals like the same gent after an all-day session in an illicit booze den drinking absinthe and listening to Slayer.

A shame I couldn't stay for headliners Hinterland - the song they soundchecked with hinted at Mclusky and Shellac - but, as for Lovemat, they came, they saw, they conquered. I doubt if it'll be too long before they're back. You have been warned.
Eat that, Cowell!

You've heard of starmakers, the Cowells and Walshs of this world, moulding and promoting prospective pop idols like puppeteers? Well, ex KLF duo Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty are claiming to have gone at least one step further in declaring that "they plucked a young Buddy Holly impersonator [Pete] Doherty from obscurity and made him a media darling" in "one of the largest hoaxes in British history". Genius.

Incidentally, in the latest installment of the A-Z Of Music feature on The Art Of Noise, Del profiles Drummond and Cauty's musical career.

According to a friend of mine who knows Drummond quite well, he's "just a really nice down-to-earth guy who drives a clapped-out Range Rover and eats raw carrots and apples". Not the sort of person you expect to be a media terrorist, now, is he?

(Thanks to Simon for the link.)
First of the gang to get married

I've never heard Morrissey's 'Hairdresser On Fire' at a wedding ceremony before, and I doubt I ever will again.

Congratulations Matt and Tracey, cheers for a fantastic weekend and very best wishes for the future.
Feel good hits of the 21st February

1. 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' - The Smiths
2. 'On The Lash' - The Icarus Line
3. 'Forever Lost' - The Magic Numbers
4. 'Lost In The City' - Lovemat
5. 'Crusher' - The Wedding Present
6. 'Win Your Love' - The Duke Spirit
7. 'Stay Away' - Nirvana
8. 'The Greatest' - Cat Power
9. 'A Boy Named Sue' - Johnny Cash
10. 'Ride A White Horse' - Goldfrapp

And, yes, 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' was the last track played at the reception for the wedding mentioned above...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

American beauty


An unfamiliar city (Cardiff), an unfamiliar venue (Chapter, or more specifically one of the two theatre spaces therein), an unfamiliar crowd (mostly middle-aged and seated, and sufficiently sizeable for Pete and I to contrive to miss each other) and unfamiliar artists. This is stepping into the unknown.

First up is Danny George Wilson of Grand Drive performing solo. Bounding up to the microphone wearing a bright red shirt and a broad cheeky grin, he looks every bit like a stand-up comedian. What follows, however, is not a torrent of one-liners but six neat but slight acoustic songs - which would be fine were it not for one incessant niggle: authenticity. (Yes, that old chestnut - but, given that we're firmly in Uncut territory here, I think a little bit of rockism is excusable.) There's just something jarring about an Englishman singing about BMXs and boy racers in an American accent and to a very American musical style. Mojave 3 were much the same - remember them? Sounded like they were from the dustbowls of the American Midwest, when really they were indie scenesters from North London.

After an interval of no more than five minutes, headliner Neal Casal takes to the stage - such are the joys of seeing a solo acoustic performer follow a solo acoustic performer, even if it does preclude disappearing for another swift pint. Last time he was in Cardiff, in the summer, he was playing with Johnathan Rice in front of thousands as the opening act on the REM tour when it called at the Millenium Stadium. The time before that, playing on his own at the Barfly, the set was interrupted by some drunks clowning around with an umbrella. There's little chance of a repeat tonight - the crowd is impeccably behaved, aside for the odd undignified whoop here and there. One chap even goes so far as to volunteer to venture downstairs to the bar and thereby miss out on a couple of songs in order to bring Casal up some much-needed liquid refreshment.

Much-needed a drink of some description may have been, but alcohol perhaps isn't quite what Casal needs. Between songs he appears tired and jaded, losing track of what he's saying in his New Jersey drawl. At one point he refuses to play certain old songs requested by audience members because they're "too depressing" - one gets the impression that if forced to do so he'd crumple up in a heap mid-song and curl up foetus-like on the stage.

And yet Casal is often witty, and, when playing, utterly in command of the room. There are no mobiles chirruping, there's no irritating chatter around me, stood at the back. The audience seem to be asking him silently to do as one bloke at the front blurts out aloud and somewhat embarrassingly: "Go on Neal, cast your spell".

As one might expect of someone compared to Gram Parsons and Gene Clark who has toured with Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Casal deals in exquisite Americana, his gorgeous lovelorn songs evocative of dusty shoes, open highways and distant mountains. His guitar playing is sublime, and his voice even better.

But the problem with Americana, for me, is that everything's about loss, about how things used to be "in the good ol' days". It's about living in the past - lyrically and, it has to be said, musically. There's an inherent denial that the future, or even the present, could be as valuable. And as such, touching as it can be, it just doesn't excite.

I come away feeling that I've been entertained, but that I'm not ready for that subscription to Mojo just yet.


Pete's review of the gig
Oh J

After a three week hiatus, the A-Z Of Music feature is back up and running on The Art Of Noise - this week's featured letter being J. There you'll find pieces on everything from The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu to jug 'n' spasm.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Welcome (a bumper selection today)...

Forksplit - Mike's been raving about this site, and with very good reason

The Quiz Blogger - a new site from a quiz fanatic, complete with fiendishly difficult questions

Drawing Moustaches In Magazines - the blog of the fanzine of the same name written and edited by comedienne Josie Long

Oh! - written by a chap called Russ who seems to spend half his time at gigs in and around Birmingham and the other half writing about them

One Eyed Man - written by Scott, a Brit from Brighton currently resident in Melbourne

After The Rat Race - the internet diary of someone who dropped out with a stitch

Eine Kleine Nichtmusik - witterings on everything and nothing, which is just what we like

Photographs Of Newcastle - a self-explanatory site, quite enough to make me feel a bit homesick


The most touching yet gently amusing post of the week? Mish saying a tearful goodbye to a dear friend, her cat Big Ron - "He was diagnosed with inoperable tumours back in November and I was told it would be ‘weeks, not months’. Three months and one week later he was still around despite being merely a bag of bones held together by spite ... The vet trapped his finger in the medical box as he was putting everything away. It’s what Big Ron would have wanted".


LondonMark is now New York Mark, for obvious reasons.

Robin contemplates that modern phenomenon, the conspiracy theory - "There is an infinite supply of facts in the world and not all of them will fit together neatly on a grand scale. Some people will find that worrying, others will not feel the need to resolve every fact neatly into a whole. The worriers have enough material to select any two events and connect them, while ignoring other events which resist connection. After God, conspiracy is the second most popular forwarding address for incongruous facts".

Jonathan is smitten by Graham Coxon's new LP - "Love Travels At Illegal Speeds is an absolute joy. Each Coxon record has been a progression from the last, but most have been dizzily eclectic and varied - only on 2004's decent Happiness In Magazines did it sound like he was moving towards a level of consistency. But this time round all 13 songs are both tremendously self-contained and perfectly in sequence".

Pete announces his Big Project for 2006, writing a book about the Birmingham Outer Circle bus route - "Maybe it'll get published and I'll be able to retire on the earnings. Maybe I'll just move to onto something else. Whatever happens, it should keep me nice and busy for the next 10 months, and that's the important thing. I've been faffing around too much recently and need some kind of long term thing".

Judging by Clare's post (and those by other attendees), Saturday's blogmeet in Manchester was quite a success, complete with special guest.

Alan had the good fortune to see Nick Cave on his recent tour - "Nick Cave is an enigma, almost impossible to explain, a man who can sing about the darker side of life and make you feel good, who can take a cacophany of noise and turn it into something beautiful. His existence makes the world a much stranger place, and it’s all the better for it".

Paul and Neil give that "four things" meme a go.

Phill's Say No To Sting campaign steps up a gear - "The Say No To Sting campaign dictates that I immediately stop playing the banjo. This will be a wrench, but I'll manage somehow. Though where the ukelele stands with regards to this I don't know".

And finally...

Del recounts how he managed to blow up his toilet - "Argh! I cracked the bowl! I blew up the bloody toilet! It's full of a black evil looking liquid, which is now leaking all over the floor, and burning it away! Holy sweet merciful crap!"

Good to know, isn't it, that even misfortune and disaster have their silver linings - if it hadn't happened, Del, the post wouldn't exist and I wouldn't have spat coffee all over my keyboard.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Just seventeen

Congratulations to Vanity Project - the fanzine is currently celebrating its fourth birthday, and doing so in style with a special issue out now. Issue #17 includes the following, amongst much, much more:

Interviews: Iodo

Album reviews: Jenny Lewis, The Fallout Trust, Sigur Ros, Deerhoof, Broken Social Scene, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Magnetophone, The Raveonettes, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, Greg Dulli's Amber Headlights, Laura Veirs, Venetian Snares, The Ralfe Band, Shooting At Unarmed Men, Angels Of Light, Kelley Stoltz, The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think-Tank (Project)

Single reviews: Brian Eno, Korn, The Golden Virgins, Dilated Peoples, iForward Russia!, The Modern, The Hot Puppies, Tender Trap, The White Stripes, The Chemistry Experiment, Boy Kill Boy, Silver Sun, StrangeTime, The Strange Death Of Liberal England

Live reviews: The Young Gods, Regina Spektor, The Research

DVD reviews: Siouxsie, The Mission

So go on, click on the link above and get yourself a copy. How many indie fanzines do you know that sponsor non-league footballers (in VP's case, Guy Lopez Da Cruz of Skif's beloved Havant & Waterlooville), ferchrisakes?
Reasons why the internet is a marvellous thing #3716

Pets In Uniform - "Imagine: your dog, cat, or other pet in full military regalia. We make this fantasy a reality". Genius.

(Thanks to Chunk for the link.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Croeso i Gaerdydd

As promised, some initial incoherent observations about the country and city we are slowly learning to call home...

* £9.80 to cross the bridge over River Severn into Wales in a van?! Croeso i Gymru indeed! (Incidentally, the van we'd hired to transport all our worldly possessions was as anticipated white - but sadly I forgot to purchase the prerequisite copy of the Sun to display proudly in the window.)

* The Welsh language really is marvellous, but at least partly because it's so cheeky. In many cases it seems that, to make an English word Welsh, all you have to do is change or knock off a letter or two and Bob's your uncle. Lesson one: "coffee" is "coffi". Lesson two: "cinema" is "sinema". Lesson three: "theatre" is "theatr". I'll be fluent before long - or, rather, as fluent as it's possible to be in a language with so many consonants...

* The Cardiff accent (in English), like the Nottingham and Birmingham accents before it, makes me smile. There's something mellifluous about it - even when the speaker is talking about a routine surgical operation that was botched and resulted in the horrific death of the patient. That this particular speaker was preparing our food in a takeaway at the time didn't do much for our appetites.

* Cardiff seems to be full of disused churches with smashed windows. This has lead me to conclude that it's a godless, dissolute place and thus helped to explain why Charlotte Church is so at home here. We'll fit in fine, too.

* Speaking of la Church, no sightings of either her or that muppet Henson yet. Perhaps that's because we haven't ventured out onto the notorious sick-strewn booze strip that is St Mary's Street of an evening yet. Or perhaps it's because she knows I'd drink her under the table.

* Churches (of the ecclesiastical kind) aren't the only things that are boarded up round here. So are what would have been both our locals, the Moorland and the Tredegar. A shame we didn't move in earlier, because I could quite possibly have kept them both in business. In fact, I could have immortalised the Moorland on SWSL in much the same way as JonnyB has the Village Pub, and before too long I'm sure people would have been flocking to Splott and hopscotching all the dogshit on the pavements to see what all the fuss was about.

* Sorry, yes, our house is situated in Splott. It's an area of the city, not (as one friend suggested) the place where a children's TV show is set. There's something very strange about the street names round here. On the other side of the very logically named Newport Road, for instance, there are a few streets named after East Anglian cities and towns. Meanwhile, the roads off Clifton Street on one side are all named after precious stones - Sapphire Street, Topaz Street etc - whereas on the other they're all named after types of precious metals. Well, it starts off with Gold Street and Silver Street, but before long there's evidence of some serious barrel-scraping - as you go further south, Copper Street, Lead Street, Iron Street, Tin Street and Zinc Street. Best of all is the other road that runs perpendicular to them and parallel to Clifton Street - it's just called Metal Street. As for us, we live on Florence Street. Sadly, it isn't one of a whole load of roads named after Italian cities of global significance during the Renaissance period. Or characters from 'The Magic Roundabout'.

* Splott has, erm, character. And, like most places with character, it also appears to have characters. Take, for instance, the cheeky young whippersnappers whom we heard greeting a passing cyclist with an array of airborne glass bottles. Probably the same youngsters who, no doubt high on nothing more than youthful exuberance, lobbed something sharp and metallic in our direction when we were unable to furnish one of their number with a cigarette a few nights later. More harmless is the bloke I'm going to call Headphone Man - with good reason, for a pair of those enormous DJ style headphones appears to be permanently attached to his pony-tailed head. I've seen him a couple of times, sat on his step with the front door open, nodding and tapping his slippers on the pavement. Once he looked up and smiled at me. I hurried on, though. If there's one rule I live by, it's 'Never stop to talk to anyone wearing slippers in public'.

* If someone offers to take you "up the Valleys" there's no need to snigger and politely decline - it's not a euphemism. It's a bit grim up there, mind - claustrophobic and narrow in the valleys themselves, to the extent that you instinctively feel the air's clearer and cleaner when you get up and out onto the hills. I think there's a series about the area on BBC2 Wales at the moment, imaginatively titled 'Valleys', but it clashes with 'Coronation Street' or something equally unmissable, so it's gone unwatched. It wasn't all grim, though - we also went to Caerphilly Castle, which boasts its own leaning tower (albeit not quite on the same scale as that in Pisa) and an assortment of medieval weaponry, including a device designed to fire "large darts" and allegedly sufficiently powerful to skewer seven men through in one fell swoop. Probably not as accurate as Raymond van Barneveld though.
Is it just me...

... or is crack one of the primary ingredients of Sainsbury's toffee tiffin? It's not listed on the label, but it must be in there somewhere. We just can't stop buying and gobbling the stuff. Anyone got a number for Tiffin Guzzlers Anonymous?
A blast from the past (two weeks)

And the good Lord Of NTL said "Let there be a broadband connection!" and it was so. Thus it is that, after an absence of a little over a week (but which feels more like two or three), I return to the blogging fray. A few preliminary observations about Cardiff to follow tomorrow, but first...

Prior to my enforced internet hibernation, I was asked by both Alex and Pete to give the following meme a go. I promised to do so when back online, and as I'm always (er, knowingly, at least) true to my word, here goes…

Four jobs I've had
(Those of you that know me personally - no sniggering at the back, OK?)
Saturday assistant, Superdrug
Seasonal assistant, Malham Youth Hostel
Cafeteria assistant, Whitehouse Farm Centre
Secreterial assistant, Birmingham City Council
(I should be quite good at assisting by now, I reckon...)

Four movies I can watch over and over
'American Beauty'
'The Big Lebowski'
'The Shining'
'The Goonies'
(If anyone wants the rules of a drinking game to be played while watching the latter, let me know and I'll post 'em here.)

Four places I have lived
(Multimap at the ready...)
Morpeth (NE62 2BY - 1977-1997)
Nottingham (NG7 2RD / NG7 1SP / NG7 1PY / NG7 1PE / NG7 1PW - 1997-2004)
Birmingham (B4 7EG - 2004-2006)
Cardiff (CF24 2PA - 2006-present)

Four TV shows I like to watch
(Well, what I've been enjoying of late, at least...)
'Coronation Street'
'Balderdash & Piffle'
'The Thick Of It'
'Match Of The Day'

Four foods that I like
Deep pan pepperoni, chicken tikka, green chilli and green pepper pizza from El Paso in Nottingham
Crusty bake steak pie from the 19 Gales stall at the Birmingham Farmers' Market
Pork scratchings
Hot 'n' sour soup and Vietnamese-style hot 'n' spicy noodles (both from Cafe Soya - my mouth's watering just thinking about them...)

Four websites I visit daily
BBC News
Troubled Diva
Casino Avenue

Four things I want to do before I die
Write a book of some description (and knowing me, it'll have A LOT of description...)
See Newcastle Utd win something, anything
Have children

Four places I would rather be right now
Selectadisc, Nottingham
The Anchor, Birmingham
My local pub in Morpeth at 7pm on Christmas Eve
Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon's house

Four people I'm tagging
(Don't feel obliged, and apologies if you've already done it, somewhere back in the mists of time...)
He Who Cannot Be Named
(I'm guessing that Paul and Jonathan might share one of my "Four things I want to do before I die"...)
Spam up! It’s Friday!

The strangest couple of minutes of TV I saw while I was away? Without a doubt, the interview on last Sunday evening’s ‘Child Of Our Time’ (BBC1) with a pub landlord who had a remarkable form of synesthesia.

Rather than experiencing words and music as colours (as most of those with the condition do), this chap experienced tastes, including smell and texture. He has come to associate most days of the week with particularly distinctive tastes, for instance – Mondays with rubber bands, and Fridays with Spam. Even people’s names conjure up tastes, and the footage showed him having to leave the bar because frequent mention was being made of a regular whose name caused him to suffer the taste of Marmite sandwiches.

In case you’re gutted you missed it, don’t be – the rest of the programme was bollocks.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"I think I'm cracking up"

'Balderdash & Piffle' may have finished on Monday, but I've still got an appetite for all things linguistic and etymylogical - not least because of my current reading material, Mark Abley's 'Spoken Here', which has been excellent thus far.

One of my Christmas stocking fillers was a tear-off desk diary, each day giving the origins of a different word or expression. It's very American, with all that that implies - ie who gives a shit about where and how trademark names like Pringles and Alpo (?) originated? - but every now and again there's a real gem.

Take today's, for instance:

"BASKET CASE: Someone who is out of control mentally or unable to perform may now be called a 'basket case', but the term originally applied to someone who was physically unable to move. The term arose as a consequence of injuries suffered by British soldiers in World War I; in those years, a 'basket case' referred to a quadruple amputee, someone carried in a basket".

Well, you learn something every day, don't you?
'There's A Guy Fitting My Friend's Mum's New Shower Room Swears He's Craig David's Dad'

... as Kirsty MacColl didn't sing.

From an email from mother to daughter: "The shower room is costing a fortune and seems to be progressing quite slowly. Have you heard of a pop star called Craig David? The guy doing much of the work is his dad. He tells us he has bought him a pension".

To not have heard of Craig David - ah, ignorance would be bliss. Anyway, so now you know what he's spent the ill-gotten gains from such songs as '7 Days' and 'Walking Away' on.
Feel good hits of the 8th February

1. ‘Darling, You’re Mean’ – The Duke Spirit
2. ‘Love Is Happiness’ – The Icarus Line
3. ‘From Which I Came / A Magic World’ – Eels
4. ‘Forever Lost’ – The Magic Numbers
5. ‘Juicebox’ – The Strokes
6. ‘Lights’ – Editors
7. ‘Son Of A Gun’ – The Vaselines
8. ‘Area’ – The Futureheads
9. ‘Used For Glue’ – Rival Schools
10. ‘Pretty Persuasion’ – REM