Friday, June 29, 2007

I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range

I am no McGyver

Yesterday I had the worst day of my life.

In the morning I have a routine as many people do. I get up, turn the radio on, lie in bed for about half-an-hour, get up, put my dressing gown on, gather my towel and head to the shower via the toilet.

Yesterday I did all of this as normal, except when I went to unlock the door, the key snapped and I was trapped inside my toilet. Four white walls, a small window with bars across, a toilet and a cork-tiled floor. I don't think I realised quite how difficult a position I was in for some time. My housemate had already gone to work for the day.

I tried and tried with the end of the shaft to unlock the door, when this failed I even tried to smash the door down, but it opens inwards so I couldn't and I was trapped. I had no watch, did not know what time it was. I sat on the toilet and pondered my situation: what was I going to do? I had nothing to read. There was no sink, bath or shower, just a solitary toilet.

I knew that there was a good chance that my flat-mate Jamie would be back in the evening, however there was even the possibility that he would stay round his girlfriend's for the night or even the entire weekend...this was something that I didn't even want to contemplate. I heard the door-bell go a few times (one of which was my colleague who was worried that work had had no news of my whereabouts), I heard my phone go off every half-hour or so. I was trapped and couldn't do anything.

I had a sudden MacGyver moment and tried to create a device which would help me, but you can't make much out of an empty loo roll and a broken key. And I always was crap with handiwork. Then I thought about using the electricity from the lightbulb wire to burn through the bars but realised that this was a dangerous and stupid thing to do. And it probably wouldn't have worked.

When you're in this situation weird things happen to you. You try to think about interesting things. You think about all the small details and you make an action plan. I was going to wait until my flatmate came home and if he didn't I was going to attract the attentions of my neighbours leaving in the next morning for work (for them to call the Fire Brigade or Police or something) by shouting and stamping at the top of my voice. This was my plan and I was sticking by it. If they didn't hear me then the water in the toilet would sustain me until my housemate was to show up.

Without a watch I could not work out what time it was so I spent lots of time listening to the what was going on outside - I heard the cheers of children - school was over, I heard the construction work stop (it must have been the end of the day, say 5.30pm). I heard the distant rumble of tube trains deep below get further and further apart (it must be towards the end of the tubes).

Finally at 12.30am, when I had lost all hope that my flatmate was not coming home, he returned and I shouted and shouted. He eventually handed me some pliers through the window and I managed to grab the end of the key shaft and turn the key. When I was out I was a trembling wreck and stumbled to the kitchen for a long drink of water and some food. I had spent over 16 hours trapped inside my toilet and my legs were shaking all over. But my ordeal was now finished. Never before have I been so happy to see Jamie come home, even if he was completely drunk. I checked my phone - 4 messages and 36 unanswered calls. Oops.

On the plus side me and Paris Hilton now have something in common. I'll use this blog to send her a message. Come and talk to me baby, we've both been through solitary confinement and we both share a common bond: that of stupidity.

But what have I learnt? Never to lock the toilet when I'm the only person in the house. I'd laugh if it happened to anyone else. I'll gradually learn to laugh at this story, but what a day!

Things have Changed

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The glamour and the bright lights and the politics of sin

A History of Tony Blair

Early years - everyone loves him, he's so cool, he plays guitar, he could be our very own Bill Clinton. At Diana's death he coins an iconic phrase that will probably be his only legacy.

Mid years - pisses everyone off by going to war in Iraq, despite the dossier which even a two year old deaf, dumb and blind kid could work out was dodgy.

Late years - Continues to bomb the shite out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Becomes really arrogant. No one likes him anymore - even the Labour Party. Clings onto power because the rest of British politics is inept.

Today - Fucks off from Downing Street. Accepts role as Middle East envoy.

Hold on a minute... First of all Blair goes around the Middle East and bombs the shit out of Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of democracy all the while continually supporting the undemocratic states in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Now he's going to be on hand to help solve the crisis that he has, in part, created? WTF? No wonder the Middle East hates us.

Fuck off and retire you cunt.

Sorry about the language. I'm very angry that I'm going to see his face for years to come. He had a golden opportunity in 1997 to change this country for the better. He never introduced his sweeping reforms of the electoral system, he wasted money on stupid schemes (ID cards, NHS computer project, the Dome) which no one wanted/wants. He had wide-ranging support from the public and could have really changed things. But Blair didn't. Everyting is the same now - we're a little wealthier so I guess people stopped caring. As long as we have our two holidays a year, who cares about democratic reform?

Anyhow, see you later Blair. You will forever be remembered for a war that no-one wanted and a phrase which Alistair Campbell probably wrote for you. That's quite an achievement isn't it? I hope your mother is proud.

Dead Man, Dead Man

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands

OK. This is my last post about Glastonbury. TV highlights included Arcade Fire, Shirley Bassey, Arctic Monkeys and a wonderful John Fogerty who showed them all how it's supposed to be done (take note the Killers). Don't know what it was like watching this for real though.

In this post on a messageboard I visit, that of music website Drowned in Sound, there were loads of hilarious comments on the BBC TV coverage.

"Jo Wiley needs to be put down for the good of the nation”

“Pretty much all the presenters are penis farmers”

And the best comment on the crowd, which I think echos what I was trying to say on Friday, is here: “It’s as if the whole of Putney managed to get a ticket”

My favourite comment on the TV footage at the weekend was legendary Mark Radcliffe speaking with Jo Wiley. She was asking him about Mika.

Wiley: “He’s not your scene is he?”
Radcliffe: “It’s not that, I just don’t like him”

Made me laugh out loud.

This year, as well as the Great Escape Festival in Brighton which was in May, I'll be going to Lowlands in Holland in August (Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, NIN, Kasabian, The Killers among many others) and a new one for me in the shape of Latitude (Arcade Fire (again!), Wilco, the Hold Steady, Cake among many others). Latitude is only 20,000 people and they have loads of other stuff going on. Should be fun and not too hectic.

Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands

Friday, June 22, 2007

The festival was over, the boys were all plannin' for a fall

This weekend it's Glastonbury ("Glasto") and, if you're in the UK, you'll have no reason not to know this. Glasto has become so big that just about everysingle newspaper has some sort of Glasto coverage. Andy McNabb, the Sun's war expert even had Glasto survival tips. The Daily Telegraph, renowned for it's pro-hippy, youthful outlook even had extensive coverage.

Glastonbury used to be a festival for the alternative. Freaks, hippies, rockers, dissafected youth. Now it's all about the middle classes and Notting Hill set taking a weekend off to go camping in the countryside. There's very little rock and roll about it anymore.

As the dude from musical trendsetters Hot Chip states in the Guardian Glasto blog (FFS!!!):

"Even Glastonbury is threatening to morph into a kind of musical version of the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival. Mums and dads with prams and spliffs and mud, all there together - it looks all wrong".

If you are thinking that I'm bitter about not being there, then you might be right. However, paying £150 to stand at the back of 60,000 people to see musical acts (many of which I have manged to see before in smaller, more intimate situations) on a big screen seems a little ridiculous.

It's far too big a festival for its own good. And it now seems to be attracting knobs - Stupid know-it-alls who never go to gigs, or even listen to music regulary. Glastonbury is the festival equivalent of the music of Coldplay. And these guys and gals always end up playing up the fact that they went camping, it rained, but they were so out of their head on e that they didn't care. And they have a kind of smugness and the view that if you don't go to Glasto then you're not a proper music fan. Like whatever, "you went camping!", talk to the hand!

There are plenty of nicer, smaller festivals which are properly alternative. That's where the cool people really go to in the summer. So fuck you Peaches Geldof, you're not going to out-cool me.

Finally, the weather report: It's currently raining at the festival site.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

So many of my brothers, they still want to be the boss

The internet is great. It allows me to research completly random stuff.

Here is the speech that Bruce Springsteen made before Bob Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the USA (the one that matters, not that shitty Channel 4 knock off).

"The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother listening to WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind. Like a Rolling Stone. My mother, she was no stiff with Rock 'N' Roll, she liked the music, sat there for a minute, then looked at me and said "That guy can't sing". But I knew she was wrong. I sat there and I didn't say nothing but I knew that I was listening to the toughest voice that I had ever heard. It was lean and it sounded somehow simultaneously young and adult.

I ran out and bought the single and ran home and played it, but they must made a mistake in the factory because a Lenny Welch song came on. The label was wrong. So I ran back to the store, got the Dylan, and came back and played it. Then I went out and got "Highway 61". That was all I played for weeks, looking at the cover with Bob in that satin blue jacket and Triumph motorcycle shirt.

When I was a kid, Bob's voice somehow thrilled me and scared me, it made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent - it still does - when it reached down and touched what little worldliness a fifteen- year-old high school kid in New Jersey had in him at the time. Dylan was a revolutionary. Bob freed the mind the way Elvis freed the body. He showed us that just because the music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual. He had the vision and the talent to make a pop song that contained the whole world. He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording artist could achieve, and changed the face of Rock 'N' Roll forever.

Without Bob, the Beatles wouldn't have made "Sgt. Pepper", the Beach Boys wouldn't have made "Pet Sounds", The Sex Pistols wouldn't have made "God Save The Queen", U2 wouldn't have done "Pride in the Name of Love", Marvin Gaye wouldn't have done "What's Goin' On", the Count Five would not have done "Psychotic Reaction" and Grandmaster Flash might not have done "The Message" and there would have never been a group named the Electric Prunes. To this day, whenever great rock music is being made, there is the shadow of Bob Dylan. Bob's own modern work has gone unjustly underappreciated because it's had to stand in that shadow. If there was a young guy out there, writing the Empire Burlesque album, writing "Every Grain of Sand", they'd be calling him the new Bob Dylan.

About three months ago, I was watching the Rolling Stone Special on TV. Bob came on and he was in a real cranky mood. He was kind of bitchin' and moanin' about how his fans come up to him on the street and treat him like a long lost brother or something, even though they don't know him. Now speaking as a fan, when I was fifteen and I heard "Like a Rolling Stone", I heard a guy who had the guts to take on the whole world and who made me feel like I had to too. Maybe some people misunderstood that voice as saying that somehow Bob was going to do the job for them, but as we grow older, we learn that there isn't anybody out there who can do that job for anybody else. So I'm just here tonight to say thanks, to say that I wouldn't be here without you, to say that there isn't a soul in this room who does not owe you his thanks, and to steal a line from one of your songs - whether you like it or not - "You was the brother that I never had"."

Trouble in Mind

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sing 'Amazing Grace' all the way to the Swiss banks

Yo! Yo! Yo! Internet. I've been away from my blog as I've really had nothing to say and/or been too busy to say it.

But a few nights ago, my housemate and I were watching some telly (TV for you yanks). In the UK at the moment there is a tendency to have adverts with "normal" guys singing along to a famous tune or revised famous tune. The two that automatically spring to mind are the AA for their roadside assistance advert where they are all singing 'See You Again', and Halifax who take normal songs and add their own words to it.

They are complete and utter bull and always turn me off. I don't know why they do these adverts - they are annoying to the extreme and always make me leave the room or shout obscenities at the screen. Halifax even has a minor celebrity called Howard who has been made semi-famous by his singing. He briefly appeared in the Xmas special of the Office, for the fans of the show out there. His photo is above.

In one of the Halifax ones (yes, they have a number of them), they are covering some RnB shite for shite song and at one bit the dancers in the background (dressed in the Halifax uniform) start pounding their behinds in a fashion reminiscent of a modern MTV video. WTF? I mean, would you trust your hard earned money to a bunch of sexual deviants? Quite possibly the worst advert ever for a bank.

Some stuff I've been writing recently. There's a review of Wilco at Shepherds Bush Empire, a review of the Traveling Wilburys Collection, a review of a new band called the Outside Royalty who are wicked, and some random track reviews. I hope you all enjoy. Coming up are reviews of Art Brut at the Astoria and Bruce Springsteen's recent CD/DVD release.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Paint the daytime black

I couldn't resist. I just couldn't. I'm such a weak person. I had to find out how it all ended. And I did this morning via the net. I haven't seen the ending myself yet, but it appears to me to be the best possible ending for a series of the Sopranos stature. It will certainly remain one of the most talked about TV series endings of all time. I know some would have wanted a more conventional ending, but it really had to be something bizarre, weird and brilliant to live up to the previous 85 episodes. I have my own theories about what the ending represents and what it is all about but will wait until I see it for real before commenting.

I can't wait until they decide to show this to us in the UK or it is released on DVD. So farewell Tony and his family (genetic and criminal). I will miss you loads but will return to this series as an old friend probably for the rest of my life. It truly is the Shakespeare of television, there is no other series that can even get close.

I'd like to thank David Chase and HBO for a superb series. I wonder if he'll do another programme in the future? He obviously has the talent and now the clout behind him to do whatever he pleases, I hope that he'll come back with a TV series equally as strong, but I know deep in my heart that he'll never be able to touch the levels of genius that was the Sopranos.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest

I'm sorry I haven't written anything here for a while. I've been very busy.

It was my second gig night on Friday. It went very well, as many, if not more, people than last time and some great bands. Some excellent DJing at the end from Will and Jamie as well. Thanks to all my friends who read this who turned up.

The final band of the night, The Mules, are f'in great. They finished with an encore performance of 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' by the Band. Absolutely incredible. On their myspace the Mules state that they like both types of music, country and western. A great country based party band. Absolutel legends. Go and see them if you can.

Some of the artists I played inbetween the bands included: The Boss, the Hold Steady, Lucero, The Stones, Kenny Rogers, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Kingsmen, The Stone Roses, BRMC, Wilco. Surprisingly I didn't play any Dylan. Don't know why really, just didn't feel like it. I should have though.

The night ended with much drunkeness. I ended up enjoying the night to it's fullest and got properly drunk, once all of my duties were completed. Before I went home, I decided to go to the toilet and thought that it would be a good idea to go, although I didn't want to be a chav and saw a builders portaloo on a construction site across the road. In my drunken stupor I broke into the site and used the portaloo. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but I broke the law to not break another. It did make sense in a bizarre twisted way.

My review of the Great Escape festival is up at Rockbeatstone. Also I'm aware that many of you are reading this through facebook. That's cool, just wanted you to know that I have a proper blog and this updates automatically...I'm not a facebook junkie or anything.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Check me out, if you dare