For those of you who missed it first time round…


…this outstanding album (Crazy Rhythms) immediately finds its way onto my albums of the year list on account of it being re-released this month by Domino Records.

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My vinyl copy from 1980 is amost unplayable now.  But it really rocks.  Indeed it apparently ranked #49 in Rolling Stone‘s top 100 albums of the 1980s, and #69 on Pitchfork Media‘s similar list.

Although every track is a classic and self-penned by the band the one that totally freaked me was “Everybody’s got something to hide except me and my Monkey” – a Lennon/McCartney cover fro (I think) The White Album.  It’s played at a hundred  miles an hour on jangly guitars that apparently were fed straight into the sound-desk for their distinctive sound.  It’s a classic and you can hear it on Spotify.

Trust me.  You’ll love it.  And I count myself among the visionaries who bought and cherished it! (I don’t know ANYONE else that has it).

The Golden Twits


Hats off to the The Drum for thinking up one of the inanest awards schemes ever.  The Golden Twits; a scheme that awards Twitterers for great “Twiting”.  My opinion of Twitter is no secret.  I think it reeks of piss and ham, but I do persevere.

Anyway, I thought I’d enter in a subversive way and this is my entry…

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I hope they take in the spirit it was meant.

Beth Tweddle. Back of the net. Back of the bloody net.


Could you do that?  No.  Could David Beckham?  no.  Could Beth Tweddle earn a percentage point of his income?  No.

Could you do that? No. Could David Beckham? No. Could Beth Tweddle earn a percentage point of his income? No. Is life just?

I totally agreed with Robert Kitson’s column in The Guardian today that lamented the relative prominence of news stories on Monday; reflecting on the weekend’s sporting achievements.

Like many, I was enthralled by Jenson Button’s critic-bashing performance.  Sublime, determined and gutsy.

Well done mate.  You showed the sneering hacks.

But…

It wasn’t a bloody patch on Beth Tweddle’s.

My youngest daughter knocked her pan in for a number of years as a member of our nearest gymnastics club (10 miles away as it happens).  She grew muscles that put me to shame.  She was fit as a butcher’s dog.  She had extraordinary strength AND flexibility and yet she was at the bottom of the gymnastics ladder.

Gymnastics is for superheroes and you better believe it.

And Britain (as Kitson rightly points out) is football’s equivalent of the Isle of Man (reserves) on the world gymnastics stage.

So, the fact that Tweddle crashed and burned in her top apparatus (the asymetric bars) where she had previously gained our ONLY EVER world gold, yet picked herself up to qualify for the floor final was a feat of incredulity in itself.

But that wasn’t the end.

She won it.

Yes.  She won it.

Unlike Andy Murray.

Unlike any British golfer in the sport we taught the world, in a major, in ten years.

Unlike England’s football team since 1966.

Unlike all of our highest paid sports, ahem, personalities in most of their disciplines.

But Beth did.

We voted for Beth to win Sports Personality of the Year the last time she won gold.  Fat chance.

This time, she didn’t even hit the bloody headlines. That achievement should have been front page news.  Not in the sports sections – in the main papers.

It’s a bloody crying shame.

Beth Tweddle.  We, the Gormans, salute you…

Confessions of a justified sinner at the Royal Lyceum theatre, edinburgh


A rather amusing “no animals were killed in the making of this smoke” type announcement preludes the opening of this play and then the curtain rises to reveal a dark, brooding, half-lit miasma that remains throughout.

And yes, it’s smoky.

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The darkness is entirely appropriate as this is a tale from the early 18th century when dark deeds were done, folk lived in smogs of half truth, rumour and mountains of religious guilt.  And we’re not even talking Catholisism here.  No, welcome to the dank, scary world of Calvinism.

YE WILL NOT HAVE FUN.  YE WILL NOT FORNICATE.  YE WILL NOT SMILE.  YE WILL NOT DAE ANYTHING THAT THE LORD WOULD FROWN UPON.

Because the Lord, back then, was all seeing, all telling, all rule making.

This was a land of ignorance and powerful religious figures.  The meenister was all.

Sound familiar?

Yep, it’s a fascinating allegory (or is it a metaphor) for our times today where religious extremism, east and west, is a licence for abhorrent and inexplicable sinning.

The early days Obama (Mc)Bin Laden of James Hogg’s novel is played at just the right side of lampoon by the truly terrifying Kern Falconer and he is the axis of evil that the play revolves around.  It’s into his house that the naive Robert Wringhim is brought, with his mother, to “enjoy” a life of strict religious instruction.  And enjoy it he does, to a point, until the Meenister sets out on a campaign to “justify” his pupil.  To make him immune to sin on earth and guarantee him a place in heaven, no matter what.  In time, the Damascan moment arrives and Wringhim is indeed (apparently) granted that place in heaven.

His ticket safely tucked away in his inside pocket the charming young Wringham is now granted the right to exact retribution on all wrongdoers that cross his path; and there are plenty of them.

The central premise of the play then unfolds around this – that if a place in the afterlife is guaranteed, rather than has to be earned, where does one draw the line?

If one can sin and not be called to task then surely sinning will follow.  And if this sinning is not actually considered a sin then the atrocities that might result are presumably acceptable.  Is this not exactly the point that appears to be brainwashed into suicide bombers the world over (because Wringham is essentially Calvinism’s suicide bomber).

Is he mad?  Is Gil-Martin his voice of conscience – or the devil?  There’s certainly a thin line between schitzophrenia and devotion in this play.

The “11th man” of this astonishing performance is the set. It rocks.  Built on a rotating platform the oblique monoliths that seemingly stretch to the sky are variously abstract tables, beds, tombstones and pulpits, but mainly they are dark foreboding skyscrapers of the future.  They are the metaphoric twin towers that I believe this play alludes to.

Ryan Fletcher is stunning.  He does not overplay his quite considerable hand.  Iain Robertson as Gil-Martin nails it.  Lewis Howden is a scream. and John Kielty plays his parts with restraint.  This is a blokes play.  Sure Rae Hendrie carries her part beautifully as the Mother but all the lines belong to the men.

Mark Thomson has to be lauded for both the writing and the direction of this very superior night of theatre.  And I’m certain he will be.

It’s brilliant.  It’s funny.  It’s electric.  It’s dark.  It is an absolute must see.

Magazine


On the extended Jools tonight we were “treated” to an interview with Howard Devoto and Dave Formula (who smiled politely).

Devoto came across as a right creep.  Totally in love with himself.

As he did in their not brilliant performance of “Shot by both sides.”

But then they got better.  A Song From Under the Floorboards and The Light Shines out of Me were both amazing and came across as timeless classics, which indeed they are.  They sounded as fresh today as they did in the late 70’s.

Shame Devoto had to be such a jerk boy.  And the guy on guitar could have laid up on the chewing gum for a second could he not?  Really fucking annoying.

(David Reid tells me they are astonishing live.)

Recent Reading. The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave


“I don’t believe in an interventionist god” sings Nick Cave as the intro to one of his finest songs.

The sheer outrageousness and majesty of his writing hints at what lies in store for readers of “bunny.”

Actually, the tone of this, his finest moment, with its epic scope is closer in tone to the content of “bunny.”

It’s the story of a fundamentalist lothario.  All he lives for is “pussy”.  He fantasises about Avril Lavigne  and Kylie throughout as he makes his way across the south coast of England.

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Meanwhile his wife, aware of this, takes her life as their son pads through rooms scattered in coco pops.

Post funeral Bunny takes to the road with Bunny Junior and seeks solace in yet more psexual activity with increasingly unsavoury outcomes.  His son, meanwhile, fantasises about his deceased mother and nurses scabrous and mind-numbingly painful eyes.

He is, in short, a misogynist and cares not.

Or does he?

In fact, this foul and bawdy romp, which makes Irvine Welsh read like Enid Blyton is ultimately a tale of remorse and a thing of great beauty.

I wholly recommend it.

This joke’s a dead duck


31193-dead_duck

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon.

As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope
and listened to the bird’s chest.

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said,

“I’m sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away.”

The distressed woman wailed, “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure. The duck is dead,” replied the vet.

“How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any
testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something.”

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room.

He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever..

As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind
legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck
from top to bottom.

He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room.

A few minutes later he returned with a cat.

The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from
head to foot.  The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head,
meowed softly and strolled out of the room..

The vet looked at the woman and said, “I’m sorry, but as I said, this
is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.”

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a
bill, which he handed to the woman. The duck’s owner, still in shock,
took the bill. “£150!” she cried, “£150 just to tell me my duck is
dead!”

The vet shrugged, “I’m sorry. If you had just taken my word for it,
the bill would have been £20.  But with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan,
it’s now £150.