It’s what everyone will be saying soon isn’t it? If Gordon Brown happens to address the UK population in this manner at any point over the next couple of weeks though, my foot is going through the telly. I would hate to be seen as the harbinger of doom on an already cynic weary website, but what has happened over the past few months is merely the tip of the iceberg for the shit that is yet to come. I am not a politician and only an apprentice economist but I can foresee a bleak 2009 and it’s all thanks to those clueless bastards in power. Not that those buffoons in the Tory are any better mind you.
They say that when the US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold and I suspect 2009 is going to see the UK go down with full on manflu. It would be easy to blame the bankers but the supposed regulators and auditors who let them get away with nothing more than intricate pyramid scheme investments for so long should also be held to account. And what do we do to our failing banks? We throw more money at them! And when I say ‘we’, I mean we, every single taxpayer will be paying for it. Want a better NHS? Forget it!
A pay increase for those brave fireman? No chance!
Reduction in school classroom sizes for your offspring? There’ll be none of that. Nope, the Government has decided to give those taxes straight back to the banks, so that they can loan it back to companies and individuals at higher rates so that the economy doesn’t grind to a halt. You’ve fucked up the economy and paid yourselves handsomely for doing it and guess what here’s a big chunk of public money for you to go and spunk up the wall and make the same mistakes as last time.
Unfortunately, we can’t live without banks as they are the prime distributors and collectors of cash, if not to you then the company you work for. Without them the whole system falls down and as the banks will continue to lend on their terms, which are now roughly in line with what they should have been in the first place, companies and individuals will struggle financially while the bankers get away with their fraudulent crimes scot free, with you and me paying their salaries to boot. But this rampant nationalisation may start to branch out into key industries in 2009, following the trends of 2008 with the US car makers going cap in hand to the White House. Already Jaguar, like the Corus steel group, owned by Indian conglomerate Tata have got the begging bowl out to the government – who then raise money that money via me and you by increasing the public debt, which will only be recovered by increasing tax or cutting future public spending. Preserving jobs is indeed for the public good but seeing as Tata are owned by an Indian billionaire and he doesn’t want to put any cash in (despite paying a small fortune to sponsor Ferrari in F1 next season) and neither you would presume do the financial markets so Brown’s government are now borrowing off me and you and giving it to foreign investors who are savvy enough to take it with a grin whilst realising that the loss of a large number of manufacturing jobs in this country could be the catalyst to another depressing wave of bad news after bad news.
This is all very admirable but it seems that if you’re going to preserve your job you will be at the mercy of untrustworthy, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats and we will be left with some grand scale Dragons’ Den where the Government are left with the decision to inject funding or pull down the shutters. Traditional (outdated) wholesome British retailers like Woolies are dead meat. If your firm is in a marginal constituency or wants to spend their last few bob giving the local MP a well paid Non Executive position on their board, or alternatively an old fashioned back hander, then you might just be in a position to ride the recession. So expect bugger all in Wigan as Smith & McCartney will shrug their shoulders as per usual when there’s a genuine crisis to deal with knowing full well that Wiganers will continue to vote them in.
Expect dozens of other traditionally British owned companies now owned by foreign parent companies to follow suit – they aren’t stupid and can see easy money when it’s there to be made. For my money, the government should buy up our factories under threat lock and stock and get them producing something the public wants that will be manufactured here and used here. We might not be able to make cars or tellies as cheap as the Japanese or Koreans but that is exactly why we got in this mess in the first place. The Germans seem to be advocating manufacturing as a way out but how many industries do we actually own in our country any more? Well there’s financial services I suppose.......
Whatever happened to those ‘Buy British’ stickers you used to see everywhere?
And the Government’s teasing incentives offered in the form of interest rate cuts and VAT reduction are hardly going to tempt anyone into a shopping spree whilst the threat of losing their job hangs over them.
There is even talk of attempting a last ditch printing of money, which always sounds fantastic in principle but will make the pound even more worthless than it is already. You can fool the country Gordon but you can’t fool the world. However, at least you’ve saved those people who will still be able to afford a holiday abroad the effort of having to work out the conversion rates from pounds to euros as any day now they will be at parity. Which means – by the way – don’t even think about leaving the country for good because thanks to Labour’s economic policy, your saved up pound notes aren’t going to buy you very much at all let alone earn you any interest if you keep it where it is.
Where will it all end? The real thinkers are predicting forthcoming depression, famine and war to follow the more mundane episodes we are seeing at the moment of recession, write downs, write offs, close downs and bail outs. A good riot always blows the cobwebs off the country but this recession will not hit specific industries and social classes, it’s going to hurt every fucker. If the trend of late 2008 continues we will end up with some kind of socialist capitalist hybrid society where the government, using our money will pay for car factories to build cars no-one wants to protect unemployment, and continue to weaken our trade deficit by subsidising their foreign paymasters who will continue to take home any profits should the whole thing work. Our taxes have been misappropriated and our pension funds have been decimated yet still the decision makers are still decision making on our behalf.
What money we have may soon ceases to be a familiar currency, like the lottery winner who falls on hard times, the pound is an ailing hobo of a currency and it seems the Eurozone might be waiting in the soup kitchen with a tin of warmed up Oxtail. We have bemoaned for years that our EU membership has given us little benefit yet passed millions back to other member states, so maybe it’s now the time to collect our debts? Given that the Blair policy of hanging onto the American’s coat tails has blown up badly it seems that both the US and UK’s days as world powers are about to come to an end, and it’s all brought about by greedy bankers and self –interested politicians who have been rewarded and will continue to be rewarded handsomely for bringing it all about. At least someone will have a Happy New Year!
In the meantime
Don’t trust anyone Don’t buy anything Don’t sign anything Keep your head down Tighten your belt And good luck
When I was in my mid twenties me and a mate sometime mid-November decided for a laugh that we would go out on the piss every day in December. We had plenty of money, no bird and a penchant for the good life so we did it. We were already accustomed to the old turn out Thursday come back home Sunday routine week on week and this seemed like the natural progression of festivities given our standard levels of alcoholic intake. Darts & Doms down the local Monday, Tuesday night football, Wednesday night at the Pier, Thursday night at Maximes, Friday night in the Springfield Triangle, all day Saturday and all day Sunday in town punctuated by the odd game of football. Great Stuff! Of course some nights are bigger than others, and during my youth as a drinker these are what they meant to me:
The day that someone started calling it ‘Mad’ was the day it stopped becoming so. I think I started off as a student thing and of course a student dropout/doleite thing of which I was much more familiar, then all the Wigan based office dweebs and counter assistants got in on the act, before you know it Sharon from Credit Control is puking her ring up behind the Bees Knees at 4pm while wearing a Santa hat. When I got my first proper job in Wigan, I was in Steppes with the bosses of the firm, talking football and having a few beers when one of my mates came in giving me the thumbs up and grinning away ‘I’ve just shagged a bird outside, fucking give it to her doggy style over the bins round the back of Parker Franks’ while I stood there horrified looking into my Coors. It was 5.30pm.
Chrimbo Eve used to be all about ‘doing the Lane’ and used to be a big Goon Squad/Wiggin Park lads thing for many a year. There was one year in particular I recall United were playing Liverpool at midday and I walked into the Bellingham and there must have been 100+ lads there and tables full of beer, when Sky telly was still something of a novelty. Of course it all ended in tears later that day when one of them got turned away from the recently opened Bellablu wine bar and proceeded to engage in a spot of pugilism with the Iraqi bouncers followed by some air conditioning of the establishment’s windows with a litter bin
It took me till I was 30 that I realised that they only do this in Wigan, I thought it went on everywhere. Like most things though it’s 90% shite and 10% genius. For genius read Beany dressed as Chubby Brown, Teletubbies directing traffic, Surfboarders rolling about in the snow with nowt but a thong on when its six inch deep in snow and some twat with a Bo Selecta Craig David mask. Plenty amusing sights but prepare to spend your evening queuing for hours and paying through the nose to get in everywhere as the whole idea of a pub CRAWL is defeated. What was original became commercial and now drags them in from far afield. It’s also a crock of shite.
New Years Eve
Me and a few of my drinking buddies used to always spend NYE in the Turnkey (or wherever) with a large JD in our hands toasting each other – no matter what birds were on the scene, they were always told to do one at 12, cos mates are mates innit? And then came the Millennium, where I was unfortunate enough to find myself in Surfers Paradise. At 20 to 12 I went to the bar to get our drinks in, and at 10 to 12with the bar now 3 deep instead of 6, the triple-time bar staff all fucked off onto the stage to celebrate in the New Year leaving behind one solitary bouncer to serve 50 people in no particular rush. My empty glass was symbolic as many others then saw the light and going out on New Years Eve now is an exception rather than the rule, with local boozers tending to get the custom rather than greedy club owners and serves them bloody right!
As for the rest. Well if you are like me, you will spend your works do trying to glug as much free ale as possible and when it dries up piss off and find your real mates and you will have one day (usually a Sunday) where you get absolutely paralytic and need to be put in a taxi at seven bells and then it’s straight back on it the next day
I spent many an happy hour as a kid watching my mother bring the decorations down from the cubbyhole in her room.Each year I'd watch as she would wrap a small waste paper bin in Christmas paper before asking my Dad to fill it with sand. Then out she came!! The most fantastic white tinsel tree you have ever seen.All 6 foot of her. My Dad then wrestled for about 50 minutes trying to get it balanced in the sand. Trying not to knock the fairy off which he had placed on the top. Ever year the fairy looked like it had spongolitis in its neck as the ceiling was just an inch too low. Not the tree being too high my Dad said.
Then my Dad spent about 4 hours trying to get the lights to work. Some of the lights had like a spider's web effect thing round them and only about 4 of them were missing on our set. Then my Mam put the balls on. Loads of different ones we had, some were even like those balls you get in nightclubs only smaller. It always worked out that we had too many balls and not enough connectors to hang them from the tree. Usually we put these round the back and just forced them on the end of the branches. Looked like we had them all over then. She always put blue bunting round the tree and usually yellow tinsel. If I could manage to rob one of those small nativity ornaments from school we'd put that underneath.
Every year my Mum would buy those streamer like paper tissue style decorations. She would then go from each corner of the room and link one to the light in the middle. Then to make it look really posh she would stick a drawing pin in the centre of each one and pin it to the ceiling. This formed a sort of W effect. Then we'd spend an hour blowing balloons up and tying about 5 of them together with cotton and hanging them in each corner of the ceiling between the decorations. By the time the 1st January arrived you had about 5 balloons on the celing that looked like scrotum sacks.
Other lantern style things where then added to the ceiling. The crowning glory was 2 pieces of string over the fireplace. These were then filled with cards from neighbours and family. Ended up each year with about 3 layers of cards all over the fireplace. The mirror on one wall had tinsel around it that made it look like it had pig-tails.
Oh and another thing. There was only one other house on Norley besides ours that had one of those garland things on the front door.
You just can’t keep the man down eh? In this latest feeble offering of “The Death of. . . . . . . . . ” Dirrrrtyoldman whinges and moans like a prisoner on death row protests his innocence. This time it’s about how things aren’t quite how they used to be when he was a lad. Let’s hope that one day he has a premonition and writes his own name in the title.
Well it’s nearly here isn’t it? Not quite, at the point of writing this it’s a full week before Halloween let alone Christmas. Thankfully though at least the supermarkets have plenty of those scary masks and costumes left to dress up and celebrate our traditional 31st October revelry. I was expecting that they would have sold out already, having already been in the shops since the end of September.
Another self inflicted bastardisation from the good ol’ U.S. of A that denigrates our once proud nation. At least we’ve got Bonfire night. Although no-one has officially unveiled it as a month long celebration I’m sure it must be. Otherwise why would the fireworks be flying past my window every night from early October?
Anyway I digress. If you’re reading this before, or on the big day, may I wish you a merry Christmas. If it’s between Christmas and New Year I hope you had a lovely time. And if it’s already the New Year then don’t worry as you can make a head start on planning for Christmas, as it’s nearly here isn’t it? And that my dear friends is what gets right on my tits. For all intents and purposes Christmas might as well be all year round. The elongated build up and the never-ending guilt and pressure heaped onto Mums and Dads everywhere to buy their young Master Park-Bench Beckham the exact gifts he wants. Well it’s fucking intolerable!! What happened to an apple and an orange, a pack of playing cards, a pea-shooter and some marbles in a stocking?
Now I’m not saying I didn’t get anything for Christmas, but at least my Mum and Dad made me sweat a bit wondering if I would get what I wanted. Not only that, but up until the age of 11yrs old I thought it was Father Christmas who was judge and jury when it came to dishing out the presents. When my Mum told me, “Only good girls and boys get Santa’s toys” I fucking well believed her. I was even more afraid of making an arse of things when she told me, “he’s watching you, so behave”. It was bad enough having Catholic guilt about having the odd (well once a day) crafty wank. But to think that there was God and now Santa watching my every move and seeing me making my bald man cry (sometimes twice a day) was far too much to deal with.
Where was child-line when I needed it? In fact where was buck toothed child saver Esther Rantzen? Probably getting roasted by two elderly white bearded gentlemen knowing my luck. Another bonus about being a Catholic at Christmas was trying to remember and then repent for the sins of the last year. It’s funny how the confessionals were always packed in the weeks leading up to Christmas and every eye was reverently bone dry. I know all three of mine were.
Whilst on the subject of sweating (see paragraph 4, line 2, 3rd word in) at Christmas, my Dad sweated much more than me. He sweated like a pig at the best of times, but a lifetime on the booze does that to a man. I can always remember him nervously eyeing up the Christmas shop. Sat there, calculating if there was going to be enough change from the silverskin pickles and quality street to see him right for a few jars down the Earlestown Labour Club. It was no mean feat for a man whose eyes were like permanent piss holes in the snow and whose numerical skills ended at 3. Well he’d never had more than 3 pints when my Mum asked him how much he had drank, although I’ve never before or since seen a man in such a state off so little booze. The panic visibly drained from his face, and his demeanour dramatically improved, when he realised there was enough of his hard earned dole cheque left to see Christmas in, in style.
All of this reminiscing got me wondering though. What happened to Christmas? What happened to wide eyed innocence and excitement? What happened to the two bearded gentlemen and which one was the biological Father to Rantzen’s child? Oh for Jeremy Kyle back in 1981.
No-one believes anything anymore or is it that there is nothing left to believe in? God, the tooth fairy, the easter bunny and even Father Christmas himself. We don’t even believe in each other.
Last Christmas, as I do every Christmas, I helped my lad write a letter to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas. With the letter tightly clutched in his tiny hand we skipped off down to the postbox and posted it, jobs a good un! Later as I picked him up from school I got talking to some of the other parents and asked them had their little Johnnies and Jane’s wrote to Santa. You’d have thought I had been speaking a foreign language the way some of them reacted. Whilst some gazed in amazement as If I’d discovered the world was round.
I bet these are the same set of miserable bastards who don’t even bother to take the time on Christmas Eve to chew the carrot up, drink the milk and Whiskey, and leave just the right amount of mess and crumbs to make the big mans arrival look complete. They just don’t bother at all. Too much like hard work and definitely too much effort in the imagination department. Even too much effort to be bothered to see their own offspring with that look on their face when they see the tell tale signs that “he’s been”. No matter what class you are or whether you’ve got two pennies to rub together, that look on a kids face can’t be bought at any price. And it costs fuck all to do.
This year my lad is holding on to the last remnants of his belief in the myth. To be honest I didn’t think we would get this far, he’s 9 next February. No doubt in the near future he’ll be telling me that I have lied to him and that he is filing for divorce from me and his Mum. He’ll cite a breach of his Human Rights and irreconcilable differences for the split. The lawyer that represents him will accuse me of causing mass feelings of indignity within the minorities, before holding me directly responsible for Lambeth Councils 2005 decision not to rename their Christmas lights, “winter lights”.
Well you know what? Fuck ‘em, because I’m sure there’s still enough of us about to enjoy it, no matter what the merchants of doom and gloom are prophesising.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Dedicated to me Mam who bought me a BSA Javelin bike for Christmas in 1981 and spent the next 24 months paying for it.
"Hello i`m Orrible Oliver & welcome to a special Christmas Eve edition of Naked Ives.Tonight is going to be a show with a festive feel as i attempt to recreate a typical WN5 Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.Fuckin pukka eh ? I must point out that under no circumstances will i be cooking a Christmas cake or plum duff because not only are they wank but they also take about 3 months to make.Fuck that for a game of old soldiers ! Now as in true WN5 style all the cooking of the meat & the preperation of vegetables will take place today so i`m going to hop on my trusty scooter & pop round to Slaters Fruit & Veg shop on Norley to pick up some groceries.Hopefuly i`ll not get called a wanker by Shaun Brethy & the street urchins don`t knick me Vespa.Nor will Eric Slater stroke my hand in a more than friendly fashion when giving me my change.That would be fucking pukka
Right i`ve just bought & large cabbage,2 small caullies,5lb carrots & turnips,5lb sprouts & 2 onions.The heavily bearded Dennis Slater has offered to drop the sack of spuds off at my house in 30 minutes.Now i`m going to head up Pem to Kens Greens for a bit asparagus.Then i`ll nip behind The Dog & Partidge & meet a fella who`s sorted my turkey.I`d better call in Bradys Off Licence on the way up & sort out the Christmas booze.I do hope his wife`s not wearing sunglasses again this year due to her falling down the stairs pissed up & landing on Billys clenched fist.Then it`s off to meet a fella on St Thomas` car park to pick up a leg of pork,leg of lamb & a large piece of silverside.Fuckin pukka tucka.
Right,back home in the kitchen were i feel at my best.All that`s needed now is for me to crank up "Dancing In The Moonlight" by Toploader,dance around like a fucking lemon for a few minutes then get on with the preparation & cooking.Oh before i forget,i MUST put my Man About The House pinny on complete with stockings & suspenders.Right first thing is to get the dried peas into soak for 24 hours.Just pour the packet into a pan full of warm water & bung a white tablet (not ecstacy) on top.Piece of piss eh.Could teach a monkey to do that.Then we move onto peeling the veg.We`ll start with the spuds as we`ll be doing four diferent kinds,namely "mash" "boiled" "roasters done in the oven" & "roasters done in the chip pan".Personally i`ve always prefered roasters done in the chip pan rather than those crusty cornered sacks of shit that came out the oven.Once we`ve peeled the spuds don`t bother getting the eyes or grubs out.Just bung them in the fucking pan because as my Gran always says "They`re good for ya".Now i prefer to boil the spuds rather than put them in a pressure cooker although me Mam did once have a pressure cooker but the lid was fucked so she just used it as a large pan.Fucking kosher eh.Then we do the carrots & turnips.Again bung them in the pan along with plenty of salt & pepper.Same with the caullie,cabbage, sprouts & asparagus.As you may notice i don`t have an Aga oven to work with but don`t worry as some of the pans will fit on top of the toaster until a flame is available.While i`m peeling the vegetables i must mention how peaceful it is to be cooking in an empty house for once as my wife Jules is currently having her IVF treatment this morning before her appointment with her anorexic counselor.Also my son is out for the day at the Westward Labour Club Christmas Party were no doubt he will get bullied off the bigger boys & have his money stolen from him before going onto the stage & sitting on some pissed up drunks knee dressed as Father Christmas who is probably a paedophile.Fucking pukka days eh.
That`s the veg` sorted now onto the poultry & meat.I`ll start with the turkey.A large roasting tray (No Kapo & Henri not that kind) is needed.First we take out the jiblets by shoving your arm straight up its Arris.Some people use these as part of the gravy but personally i like to think of myself more than a fucking caveman.Then we pack the cavity with some Paxo.As i`m ramming the Paxo up there i must tell you a little story that always happened at Christmas with my Great Grandad.He was the person who introduced me to Wigan Athletic & was quite simply the Grandad of Worsley Hall.But he was my real Grandad.Every year Tom would come up to my house & all his Grandkids would be there.Chocolate would be being eaten by the kids & Tom would sit there in his chair looking at them playing with their toys.Little did the babies know what was going to happen to them soon.You see Tom had this shall we say "habit" which entailed him picking the babies up who were covered in chocolate & licking their faces clean ! Proud as fuck he was.Didn`t care a shite.Also due to him having a leg missing he used to piss in the sink (not when cooking Christmas dinner i might add) but when he couldn`t walk upstairs due to his false Dolly Peg. Anywa..Once the turkey is stuffed throw it in the oven wrapped in foil for about 6 hours & don`t forget to "baste" it.We then wrap the leg of pork in some foil,same with the lamb & silverside.Then wait until the turkey is done before banging them in the oven.Once you`ve taken the turkey out do NOT leave it on the kitchenette & then go out on the piss like Tony Ball did.This will cause you to return to your house with a turkey carcas on the floor & a very full Bull Mastiff sat in it`s bed looking rather contented.That`s not fucking pukka.
Now the important part.The gravy.Big tub of Bisto is needed & if you really fancy being posh add a couple of OXO.For thickening we need some corn flour too.Fry your onion in the pan,then add the water from each of the simmering pans & the roasting trays.The gravy must taste of all the meat & veg that you have cooked.Then throw the Bisto & OXO in until you get that "spreadable with a knife" thickness.Gravy without skin is not fuckin pukka tucka.Once the gravy is done it`s time to serve.Make sure you get your best plates out & cover the dinning table with a plastic Chritmasy sheet.Make sure that the Uncle who turns up once a year just for his dinner & a free piss up is sat at one end of the table with a plate filled with more vegetables than Rose Hill School.Christmas crackers must be placed sparingly around the table & the shop bought Yule log complete with cardboard holly must take pride of place in the centre.The sign of a good Christmas dinner is when people are still eating the turkey on New Years Day.
Finally to give your dinner that "Look how fucking posh we are" feel get the tin of Rover biscuits out & pass them round.After Eights are acceptable but Rover always edge it in the posh stakes due to them having TWO layers.Top this off with a box of Cadburys Fingers,a dozen Mr Kiplings mince pies,a large packet of lemon & pink coconut Jamborees & a box of shortbread & there you have it...................A WN5 Happy Christmas.
Hey kids its Christmas! And if you have all been good boys and girls this year then you just might get that toy that you wished for… what? You don’t want a toy? You want a mobile phone? Gee whiz kids what happened to wishing for cap firing guns, dolls in prams, pedal cars, post office shops, games compendiums, corgi cars, castles & soldiers, airfix kits, football boots, annuals, board games, selection boxes in the shape of a stocking, a fish net stocking at that! Etch a sketch, Give a show projectors etc etc.
Come along with me, I’m the ghost of Christmas past and I will show you what kids wished for over 40yrs ago. We will start with the first ever toy of the year award in 1965 the magnificent James Bond Aston Martin. It was launched just before the release of the film Thunderball though the more pedantic amongst you will know that the car first appeared in Goldfinger. The model car had an ejector seat, flip up roof and hidden machine guns. Corgi sold 7 million of these little beauties. Also out this year; Dr Who & the Daleks and the Gonks an ugly family of dolls.
The following year and the winner was a controversial doll for boys, Action Man produced by Hasbro. The little man was an immediate hit and he is still selling well today, not bad for a 42yr old soldier. Pedigree brought out their own version called Tommy Gunn and you can just imagine the tantrums on Christmas morning if a kid got this version instead of the real thing. Other hits included Tiny Tears a crying doll with real tears, well you had to fill her with water first and the back breaking contortion game Twister where you had the dubious pleasure of someone farting in your face.
1967 saw Spirograph crowned the king of toys. Manufactured by Kenner it enabled kids to draw the most elaborate geometric designs. One of the toys that fell into the “educational” slot it was supposed to get kids interested in graphics and maths. I just loved drawing pretty patterns and I ended up making spades for a living, maybe I was just one of the unlucky ones. This original version would give the Health & Safety police palpitations today. It came with a plethora of pins that you used to attach the plastic shapes to a board. The safety brigade would have been delighted with Triang Toys though as they became the first to fit a safety belt to a pedal car.
Pedigree may have been the poor relations with Tommy Gunn but in 1968 they hit back with Sindy sweeping the board at the awards. Billed as the doll you love to dress she had more outfits than a footballer’s wag . In later years she got a boyfriend, Paul and a sister Patch. Some of her outfits were designed by the top names in the fashion world including Mary Quant, Hardy Amies, Emanuels and Vivienne Westwood.
For the boys Joe 90 was popular along with Batman toys including a utility belt. This gives me the opportunity to tell you some of my favourite Batman lines from the TV series “Holy strawberries Batman, were in a jam!” –Robin, “Never rub another mans rhubarb” –The Joker, “Planting a time bomb in a local library is a felony”-Batman, “It's sometimes difficult to think clearly when you're strapped to a printing press” – Batman.
1969 and every boy wanted Hot Wheels left in his stocking, the fastest model cars on earth. Build your loop the loop race tracks and race them side by side, and err… that was it really, the fun was all over in seconds. Story of my life. Could have been worse I suppose, you could have got the rather unfortunately named Tic Tac Tosser for Xmas.
All these toys are worth a small fortune today, maybe that new mobile phone will be a much sought after item in 40yrs time, then again maybe not…
. . . . . the North West of England. There, I’ve said it, and I’m fucked if I’m going to apologise for it.
Do we, or do we not live in the greatest region on the planet? Of course we fucking do, there really is nowhere like it. Yeah of course it pisses down 364 days a year but that’s just a minor set back. If it’s a bit of colour you’re after you can always book yourself in for a session on one of those sunbeds. And if the grey skies are leaving you feeling a bit flat then why not invest in one of those daft fucking lamps to stare at. How anyone can say they suffer from that SAD (Seasonal Adjustment Disorder) when they live here is beyond me. Where is the adjustment living in the North West, it rains, then it rains and then it rains some more.
Anyway, if the lamp doesn’t work then get down to your local pound shop and buy a job lot of lighters and candles to illuminate your mind. Failing that get a job lot of paracetamol and do away with yourself, basking in the glory of a cheap North West of England death.
In this region of ours we have two of Britain’s, in fact the worlds, greatest cities. Liverpool and Manchester have everything and are ably assisted by the surrounding satellite towns and suburbs. We’ve two of the most successful football clubs in Europe, who play in the Premiership with five other North West clubs, making the region the most represented part of England in the most exciting league in the world.
Musically we’ve produced some of the biggest/best bands ever to record or grace stages all over the globe, go on I’ll say it, The Beatles. From the telly there’s just too much to choose from. But for the purposes of balance I give you Coronation St and Brookside. The former being the first soap to ever have women cast in the lead roles (Ena Sharples, Annie Walker and Elsie Tanner), not exactly conforming to the stereotypical northern monkey image. And all written by a script writer from Swinton, Tony Warren.
We’ve got great artists from yesteryear like L.S Lowry to contemporary names such as Wigan’s own Darren Almond. There’s poets like Mike Duff and the comedians are coming out of the floorboards with geniuses like Eric Sykes, Les Dawson, the list goes on and on.
It’s the difference between blonde and brunette. Years ago when I was a nipper I’d go into Liverpool regularly. Whilst there I’d watch the break-dancers and body poppers outside of St Johns Market and then piss about on the ferry for hours on end cadging cigs and drinking tea. One thing that always struck me was how stunningly beautiful the women were, all with long dark hair and bright red lips. Sultry looking and self assured, and always out of my reach. Women like these demanded that you get to know them before anything happened, and even then nothing was guaranteed. However, if you were lucky enough to get the nod you knew you were spending time in the company of class. This is the North West.
Whereas on the other hand, the blonde bimbos were easy pickings and everyone could have a go. On first inspection they looked great, all tits and teeth. But after the dirty deed was done there was nothing left but smudged foundation and rotten skin. No conversation, no views on anything in life and an almost uncontrollable urge of the blonde bint to check her appearance at every opportunity. This is London. All glamour and glitz but with no substance.
Anyway I’ve going off track again. I’m not here to give you an A-Z of every aspect of North West culture, mainly because I can’t. a more cultured writer than I could have expanded this piece and really drove the point home, but I’m not him/her, so fuck it. I just merely want to point out that the place has more than most, if not all. So next time you start fucking moaning then take a step back and have a look around. There really is nowhere better.
A strange night all in all, anyone who knows my musical preferences knows of my love and passion for all things Temptation.
This was the fourth time I've seen the group since 2003, this rated somewhere near the bottom not due to the group but a truly terrible concert going crowd at the Apollo.
Over the last decade The Temptations have performed on the same bill as The Four Tops as part of the T&T tours and usually to packed arenas i.e. The MEN, Sheffield Arena, NIC etc.
This year The Tempts are here on their own and doing smaller more intimate gigs. Nearly every date on the tour is currently sold out or close to selling out, their date in Liverpool on Saturday has been sold out for three months and tickets are like gold dust yet the Manchester date was no-where near selling out.
So up we trudged to The Apollo, The Tempts came on stage around 8.45 to a sadly half- empty venue. Now I'm under no illusions we all know that the classic line up of The Temptations - David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks - are long gone and with Dennis Edwards now performing with his own review in the states The Temptations are somewhat of a novelty.
I'll always support this line up and they really are a talented group. Ron Tyson who wrote and produced for the group when they were on Atlantic Records now joins Otis Williams the last surviving member of the group in chronological order.
Terry Weeks who was a roadie for the group until standing in on their 1997 UK tour he's been with the group eleven years.
Joe Herndon was bass singer for Doo-Wop group The Spaniels up until 2003 when he joined The Temptations, and Bruce Williamson a lead singer in the mould of Dennis Edwards and Ali Ollie Woodson rolled into one. A beast of a man who can hold a note.
This current incarnation is still doing the business and it’s always a pleasure to see them, as it was the first night of the tour on Tuesday I'm willing to forgive them for a lack of a buzz.
Apparently they attended Levi Stubbs funeral in Detroit on Monday, left Chicago Monday afternoon, arrived at Heathrow performed on This Morning and then travelled up for the concert in Manchester.
They began with a track from their 2006 album Reflections Marvin Gaye's How Sweet It Is, before entering into The Way You Do The Things You Do, Get Ready, Ball Of Confusion, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, (An acapella rendition of You Are Necessary), Treat Her Like A Lady, The Girls Alright With Me, Since I Lost My Baby, I Cant Get Next To You, My Girl, Can I Get A Witness, Ain’t To Proud To Beg...
I'm a connoisseur of music if you will, I've been raised on watching acts in the rare soul environment of the Northern and Modern Soul scenes were everyone is tuned in and only interested in the act in front of you.
So I find it mightily irritating when the rest of the crowd spend the night pissed up, going back and forth to the bar and generally talking all the way through. In the bigger arenas the sound usually wipes this out and you can put up with it but on Tuesday the sound at the Apollo was so poor these tossers drowned out the group. Add to that around 40 minutes into the act people began to leave ...
The Temptations sensed this and cut the set short by around 20 minutes. So a massive thank you to the concertgoers of Manchester you really enhanced the experience of seeing my favourite group for possibly the final time.
I hope the tour picks up for them and they don't have to face a crowd like that again, and for that matter I don't have to sit with such music philistines ever again.
I'm frantically searching around for tickets at Liverpool on Saturday night....
What a difference a few nights can make, after the poor showing at the opening night in an empty Manchester Apollo I decided to not let that sour my love for the group and travelled across to Sheffield for a Halloween appearance of the group.
We arrived at the wonderful City Hall at around 7pm and in enough time to catch the wonderful Yolanda Brown, a nu Jazz Saxophonist, a stunning and extremely talented girl, who has a new album out.
Definitely one to look out for in the future, as she finished her set at around 8.30 the City Hall had completely filled up in contrast with the empty and souless feel of the Apollo on Wednesday night. At 8.45 The Temptations came on stage and immediately launched into How Sweet It Is, The Way You Do The Things You Do, Aint To Proud To Beg, Get Ready before even taking breath.
The show was absolutely electric and was possibly the finest performance I have witnessed from the group.
The set was extended from Wednesday's dismal showing at The Apollo and we were treated to an extra 25 minutes and another four songs namely 1997's grammy award-winning Stay, Run Away Child, Cloud Nine, Pyschadelic Shack.
The show finished all too soon but after 90 minutes The Tempts had made the £26 ticket price more than worthwhile, an excellent performance and I'm pleased that I didn't allow the appearance at The Apollo to sour my experiences of this group.
“Well I said goodbye to Rosie Rooke this morning, I'm gonna miss her bloodshot alcoholic eyes, She wore her Sunday hat so she'd impress me, I'm gonna carry her memory 'til the day I die.
Cos I'm a Muswell Hillbilly boy, But my heart lies in old West Virginia, Never seen New Orleans, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Still I dream of the Black Hills that I ain't never seen.”
I’m in the pavement looking up at the stars. Except there aren’t any stars as it’s still sunny. My shoes are sticking to the tarmac and I’m smiling and I’m singing.
Soho never looks better than when you’re wasted on the pavement. And I’m singing and I’m laughing and out of the corner of my eye I see Guzzling spark out. The Salford national anthem is playing and the pigs will be here in a minute.
Out my right eye I see the trashed ice cream van and remember that Guzzling has only gone and tipped it over. He kept asking for a flake for his Guinness and then there was a crash and a bang and a wallop and I fell over. Marty ran. I tried to run but just kept singing and sticking to the tarmac and Guzzling collapsed.
The filth is here – never when you want one, eh?
The landlord of the French House - who is actually French - has identified Guzzling as the culprit and they are currently trying to pick him up in all senses of the word.
Shocked into action I check my pocket and roll the bottle of poppers under the ice cream van. Whizzed up and popped Guzzling is for it.
I somehow raise my feet from the ground and haul myself up. I walk in a circle and stumble into a table and chair but I manage to compose myself somehow. Guzzling appears comatose and I walk past him and start to make my way to the Cambridge singing quietly:
“Cos I'm a Muswell Hillbilly boy, But my heart lies in old West Virginia, Never seen New Orleans, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Still I dream of the Black Hills that I ain't never seen.”
“Oh move along you fucking pissed-up wanker else you’ll be joining this waster here”, says PC Cunt
And then I hear it.
Guzzling, quietly at first and then louder and then full blast.
“Cos I'm a Muswell Hillbilly boy, But my heart lies in old West Virginia, Never seen New Orleans, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Still I dream of the Black Hills that I ain't never seen.”
“Oh yes”, says PC Cunt as I feel the steel on my wrists and they tighten the cuffs just that bit too tight and then comes the dig in the ribs. Always the ribs, and always the same response from me:
“Is that the best you can do?” and it is, as the second never hurts as much.
“I’ve got your number hit me in the face.”
But they never do.
It seems an age before Guzzling joins me in the back of the van.
“Vine Street it is then, Guzzling.”
Vine Street it is then, Rich.”
And we laugh and then we start singing softly:
"They'll move me up to Muswell Hill tomorrow, Photographs and souvenirs are all I've got, They're gonna try and make me change my way of living, But they'll never make me something that I'm not. Cos I'm a Muswell Hillbilly boy, But my heart lies in old West Virginia, Never seen New Orleans, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Still I dream of the Black Hills that I ain't never seen.”
ever heard "the beautiful tennessee waltz"?.....the man in that steals his best mate's wife in the space of a three minute dance....it demeans women as if a woman could be won over in that short space of time.....unless of course he had a massive hard on propped against her belly for the whole three minutes that they danced an she thought "i wunt mind a bit a that".....no you steal yer best mate's wife bit by bit...you go round an yer smoke a weed...an it makes him dopey but it makes you an her giggly an you become the life an soul an interestin an you an her get the munchies an yer mate falls asleep....an things happen....so i give to you....from the perspective of the husband
The Beautiful Openshaw Weed
i was smokin with my darlin a beautiful openshaw weed an while we were smokin my best mate i happened to see an i passed him the lit ganja an while we were smokin my best mate stole my wife from me yes i remember the night on the openshaw weed only i know how much i have lost cos i lost my darlin wife the night we were smokin a beautiful openshaw weed an i sit in the house alone an cryin inside i am fallin apart an it's deeper than depression an sadder than sorrow the darkness they've left in my heart an i remember the night on the openshaw weed only i know how much i have lost yes i lost my darlin wife the night we were smokin a beautiful openshaw weed an i think about the no good bastards as i crush tablets into a bowl an it's beyond any pain an it's beyond any sunshine the sickness they've left in my soul but i remember the night on the openshaw weed only i know how much i have lost cos i lost my darlin wife the night we were smokin a beautiful openshaw weed
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- mike duff
It’s been a pretty strange period for music in Wigan this year with gig attendances dropping, venues closing down, lack of new talent coming through and established bands splitting up or being dropped.
Things have been in decline for a couple of years now. The DIY scene that sprung up around the rise of the Libertines in 2002 created an amazing buzz around town with new gig and club nights starting up, which in turn led to musicians getting together creating bands that were reacting against the stagnant musical period of the few years previous. Things hit a peak mid 2006 and we’ve been in a steady decline ever since.
It’s the same old cycle that we last saw in the mid 90’s with Oasis. A big scene blows up but then you eventually get to the point where the type of music is so popular that everyone thinks they can do it and they form bands, regardless of if they’ve got talent or not.
As we have this time with bands such as the Kooks, The Killers, the Frattellis et al. They followed on the coat tails of the Libertines and The Strokes but managed to make that crossover to the mainstream. You then get the 3rd rate bands that follow the 2nd wave, the Twang, Reverend & The Makers etc. This leads to new young bands emulating these types and the quality really suffers, along with the live scene. The crossover of indie now is more obvious than ever. You can go down any King Street and hear indie tracks in any of the pubs or clubs, something unheard of 5 years ago. Back in the early 2000’s you’d search out your vintage leather jacket by scouring charity shops or travelling down to Camden market. Now you can pick up them up mass produced in Top Man. The indie scene is no longer ‘cool’ so the old gig goers have disappeared. All you get in the venues for most gigs nowadays are friends and family of the bands who are playing, which obviously changes from week to week meaning there are no regulars, thus a new scene can’t get off the ground.
Despite this, the live scene has still plodded along in Wigan over the past year. Yeti made their return back in January followed by The Von Bondies in February, who pulled in a good crowd. Chris Helme from the Seahorses played the Tavern in June and Rhys Ifans brought some of the Super Furry Animals with him in October to play a gig to a packed Club Nirvana. Some of the best of the upcoming indie acts from around the country have also played, to varied reactions, including Detroit Social Club, Esser, Elle S’apelle, Screaming Lights and Buen Chico. Shaun Ryder came up too for a one off DJ set in November but that shambles is probably best off forgotten!
A few local bands meanwhile have had quite a bit of success throughout the year. Ashton’s The Troubadours played support on the Enemy tour before jetting off to festivals in Japan alongside the likes of Paul Weller and the Verve. Mon Ouisch played festivals slots in the UK, whilst the Victorian Dad Band got themselves a deal. The Suzukis album release with Deltasonic was pushed back further but they headed over to New York earlier this year to record it and it’s now due early next year. Solo acts Nancy Elizabeth and John Fairhurst both gained rave reviews for their albums throughout the year and played festivals around Europe. Finally Matthew Hallsall has had great success on the Jazz scene including sessions on Giles Petersons BBC Radio 1 show.
The Tavern closed down twice, as did the Waiting Room and several other gig nights ceased to be. One new night though that has been consistent and become ever more popular is TWATS or ‘The Wonderful Arty Types Show’. Consisting of live music, film and poetry, it takes place at the Tudor on the last Thursday of every month.
2009 looks to be more promising for the local scene. A couple of clued up lads (Mike and Neil) have just taken over booking for the Collective which from next year will take place every Friday at the Tudor, with free entry. They’ve been getting some quality acts in lately and this will hopefully continue into next year. The Tavern has just reopened, now owned by the people behind Fuzzbox Recording studios. They’re all passionate about music and will hopefully restore the pub to a top quality mid sized gig venue. They’ve got Sham 69 playing in September so that should get it off to a good start. There’s the odd decent young band coming through but this will hopefully increase as more kids start to react against the bad couple of years passed. The national scene has seen some great new bands with debut albums released this year; Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Johnny Flynn; so hopefully the local scene can follow suit.
I finish on a sad note with a mention for Rob Partridge who died last month. Rob was the manager of Wigan band Witness, as well as looking after The Verve and was truly one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet in the entire music industry. He had an amazing CV, having looked after Bob Marley, Tom Waits, Burning Spear, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and many more but always stayed completely grounded. He did a lot to help me set myself up in the business when a person in his position could have quite easily ignored me or passed me onto someone else. He always had time to return a phone call, send you an email or call you down to his office in London for a chat. In an industry which is full of self centred egotistical wankers, it was refreshing to know someone who would go out of their way to help other people rather than themselves.
For a proper obituary, check out the Guardian site: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/dec/02/obituary-rob-partridge-music-publicist
“This is going out to the whole wide Westside you know what I'm saying, yeah break it down for me steady mob, rock, rock on
I was just a young boy, livin in the hub city-Eastside Compton G Back in the days when Ice Cube and Eazy had every Nigga Talking 'bout boy you can't fuck with me Remember Ice T had da power, hearing gunshots lickin' by the hour When Too Short bumped in every supersport And taught us all how to ride for the West Coast…”
And so begins Westside by TQ and every so often I put on this exquisite piece of rap and think it’s the best song in the entire world. The best thing that has ever been put on vinyl or cd or download or whatever this week’s format is.
But why do I love it? It has nothing to do with my life. Never been to the west side and never will. Love Motown and Stax. Love reggae ‘n all and I’ve never been there. Any of those places. But I have…
See music takes you to places where nothing else can. Television doesn’t take you to those places. Neither does film. Yet those two media are visual.
And I put Life Goes On by Tupac Shakur and drinking Hennessy saying “goodbye at the cemetery.” And Life Goes On is the greatest song in the entire world. And I shuffle the ipod and I’m in North London in 1971 listening to tales of Rosie Rooke and the Muswell Hillbillies with Raymond Douglas Davies of the Kinks. And then I’m back across the ocean and I’m by that mighty ocean and “I got a job and tried to put my money away, But I got debts that no honest man can pay” and I’m away with Bruce on that mighty highway, drinking Bushmills and talking about Kerouac with Tom Waits and the ghost of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. And it’s Sunday morning coming down. Then back home on a sweaty dancefloor with Brenda Holloway and Major Lance and at the Old Vic with Dexy’s and I’m back in 1972 having Breakfast in Bed with Lorna Bennett and my mind is ten years on and I’m having breakfast in bed with another beautiful girl called Lorna… and I’m in love with the world for just that moment
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. That’s why I run and I walk and I push myself at football and rugby and I walk to work. And like the man in black I keep my eyes wide open all the time. It takes an hour or so from Muswell Hill to the west end but if you keep your eyes open you’ll see the world even though normally I just see pockets of broken men from the Emerald isle.
Even at seven thirty in the morning. And that’s what I like. On days like this when the sun is peeking through the hills of Alexandra. Through the palace and touching the Archway Road. Under Suicide Bridge past the Whittington. Irish labourers await their lifts. In their wedding suits and boots awaiting Mr Murphy. Away from Cork and Limerick and just six hours after staggering out of the Archway Tavern. And The Woodman and any one of the pubs on Holloway Road they are ready for digging the dirt on these streets of North London before commencing their evening shift of Guinness and lager.
They will spend Saturday night in the Forum and the Gresham. Johnny Doran – who lives in the bedsit directly below me - drums with Davey Boy and the Playboys. They have a residency at one of these joints. Keeps asking my mates and me to go and see them but it’s not our style. Johnny’s a cracking lad as is Bernie - that has the bedsit next to mine and awakes me most nights as he stumbles in shit-faced. But it just ain’t for us. I don’t dig that republican shit. Not interested and I’m sure sixty per cent of the people in there aren’t. It’s the forty per cent I’m bothered about. I’ll drink with any man and fuck any girl. I’m not bothered where they come from but I hold no truck with human beings that blow other human beings up. Don’t get it.
Our kid’s in the navy. I tell him the same but… well we argue all night about it and it’s best unsaid I suppose. As I say I’ll have a drink with any man and I always have a drink with our kid. Got to look after him like. He’s my mum’s favourite. Will always be “little Alan”. Even if he wants to blow people up for a living. She says that he’d have joined the army if that was the case and that he just wants to see the world. Hey good luck to him. Girl in every port and all that but I’ll stick with a girl in north, west, east and south London, thank you.
There are gangs of Irish men throughout my journey. From Archway to Tufnell Park to Kentish and Camden Town before I get to Mornington Crescent and the final stretch to Tottenham Court Road. Pick up a crusty cheese roll and nip into Glen House. Home of Global Holidays. My workplace. A fucking laugh it is as well.
They say that “things aren’t what they used to be” a thought that sometimes I believe in, and others I dismiss totally. But as far Christmas is concerned it is certainly true. It just isn’t the same anymore. When you finally grow up and reach adulthood, something must just click in your head and say “Its Christmas and you officially hate it.” Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly hate it but it just isn’t the same. Ok so the excitement of opening toys of course goes as you get older (more of that later…) but its whole thing. It just isn’t the same. When you were at school there was the build up, I suppose finishing a week or so before the big day (sic) helped, now you just work up til Christmas Eve and then have to battle in the traffic to get home at dinner as everyone else has been given an early dart. When you get home, it isn’t the same either. When you were a kid, your parents made an effort for you, decorations everywhere, streamers from one corner of the ceiling to the other and lights all round the window. And you couldn’t wait to get the tree up, always a real one, with dropping needles that went from floor to ceiling. Nowadays it’s just a small water feature on the coffee table and one of those fibre optic trees that change colour every twenty seconds. Like I say, not the same.
And then we get to the gifts and toys themselves. These days it’s all Playstations and Xboxes and Ipods. Gone are the days of the street being full, by 10am, of kids riding their new Raleigh Grifters (or in my case the Grifter XL, always been a step ahead) wearing the new cowboy or astronaut outfit their favourite Auntie and Uncle have bought for them. These days you could fire a cannon down most streets on Christmas Day and not hit anyone.
In the past the tele companies used to make an effort. We all know about the Morecambe and Wise specials and the size of audiences they used to get, and of course you would have the blockbuster film as well as festive specials of all the top TV shows. Nowadays all we get is the soaps building up to either a death, birth or marriage, there must be so many anniversaries in Walford, Weatherfield and Beckindale on Dec 25th, I don’t know how they keep track. The only specials you get these days are repeats of ones you have seen over and over (I hope Miami Twice isn’t on again or I swear I will kill someone) a Bond film that was probably on at Easter and a convoluted Top of the Pops that probably won’t show all the No 1’s of the year as it used to. In fact the only thing that will be worth watching will be the Dr Who special as usual. The week between Christmas and New Year used to always be a TV highlight as well, with stuff such as The Monkees, Snoopy and Woodstock and episodes of Wait till you Father gets Home, now all you get are repeats of The Great Escape and that bloody giant Digby dog.
For some reason, it seems these days that the weather isn’t as good as it just to be. Now I certainly don’t remember any Bing style white Christmases, but I remember Christmas Day being bright and crisp, these days, it just seems dull and damp. Or are we back to the tele again there.
And the parties aren’t the same. In the past, it was having the odd can that your old man used to let you have, usually a Skol or Lancashire Bitter (15p a can from Fine Fare), now you can buy what you want and sup it anytime you wish. In fact do people have get togethers anymore? I used to always look forward to long lost relatives and friends coming round, bringing cheap ale and presents, now it’s a flick through Sky to see if there are any repeats of the Les Dennis and Dustin Gee Christmas Madhouse on some obscure channel with a bowl of Bombay mix and a bottle of Becks.
Writing this has turned me into a broken man, I want my Christmas back, I want Morecambe and Wise, though I appreciate that maybe difficult, I want my cans of Skol and most of all I want my cowboy outfit, it’s just not fair.
Imagine the scene. It’s mid December, the late 70’s. John Noakes is crudely fashioning tinsel & coat hangers. Shep is left of camera, sniffing Petra's arse. Suddenly, there’s a thud on the doormat. Is that Brucie & Anthea in full Victorian splendour? But...but..that can only mean two things?
1) The paper bill has finally been paid. 2) The Christmas Radio & TV Times (double editions) have arrived.
With an eye for detail. a big felt tip & a curious yearning for those days when there wasn’t 163 channels called UK Bollocks pumping out programmes called “Hitler’s arse” or “When good fridges go bad”, lets take a look at what would constitute a perfect Christmas Day’s telly schedule in Wigan.
Please note: Timings, durations & content may be liable to total fabrication, whimsy & flights of fancy.
9:00 - The Snowman Real tear in the eye when we’re “Walking in the Air” & at the end. It melts. Briggs, you callous bastard. Worth it for Bowie’s scarf & jumper combo at the beginning. What did C4 show before they bought this?
9:30 - Circus – Either Billy Smart’s or Chipperfields. 3 basic rules of any good circus : 1) Clowns must look like they’re on a register somewhere, ride tiny bicycles & have cars that fall to pieces. A bit like Marsh Green…. 2) Trapeze acts must be all incestuous family affairs from Romania. 3) Chimps must wear the mask of terror that tells of less orthodox training techniques still legal in parts of Albania.
10:00 – Noel Edmonds Usually visiting relatives so a safe first outing of the day for the sanctimonious cock, hopefully minus helicopters & helicopter related tragedies. Ideally, he’d be stuck him up post office towers doing video links to Australia that no one cared about, including those involved. For the optimum Edmonds experience, offensive sweaters, immaculate beard, regional links to jaded presenters, The Krankies ( minus swinging allegations ) & Feargal Sharkey miming badly aboard jets must all be witnessed.
12:00 – Steptoe & Son Genuine class. The Christmas special from 1974 where Harold wants to go abroad but Albert wants to go to Bognor. Cue much pathos, emotional blackmail & “Dirty old man’s" but with party hats & grotty decorations. Hey, if it aint broke……..
Commercial Time Extolling the virtues of the Ronco “Buttoneer” & a still saucy Lynda Bellingham knocking up a bit of scran for her ungrateful archetypal 80’s nuclear family, complete with hubby more interested in magic tricks than unfurling those cracking norks we all witnessed in “Confessions of a Driving Instructor”.
1:00 – Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em Not wearing as well as many would have us believe but still watchable. I’ll go for the Christmas special from 1974. No rollerskating or worrying about the correct change but a myriad of “ooh’s”, “aah’s” & dogs doing whoopsies on the carpet. Jessica’s gonna see the Queen on Christmas day, Betty’s one step away from the Prozac & the Christmas tree is but a mere twig. Culminates in the inevitable chaos at the nativity play. “Put another bag on…NO, NOT THAT ONE…”
2:00 – Porridge 1975 Special. Grouty is masterminding a tunnel, Fletch wants no part of it, Godber is dopey, Warren is illiterate & Biggins gives Norton, Winton et al a masterclass in camp . Needless to say, it all goes tits up. McKay cancels Christmas & Fletch saves the day by falling down a big hole & revealing where they hid the soil. Funnier than it sounds (but you knew that anyway…)
2:30 – Rising Damp 1976 Christmas Special. Rare incursion of an ITV product. Alan thinks he’s gonna get laid, Philip brings back some “jungle juice” & a black girlfriend ( mild racism alert but its ok cos it’s the kind we laugh AT ). Rigsby’s thwarted by the milkman ( aka Mr Mash from “Are you being served” ) on the bird front. Absence of Frances de la Tour means lack of hip grabbing & “Miss Jones” mannerisms but that aside, it’s textbook Damp.
3:00 – Top of the Pops Viewed from behind a mountainous dinner perched precariously on your lap – NEVER a table – it’s the second outing of the day for hirsute Anti-Christ Edmonds slotting effortlessly into a classic line up of Blackburn, Saville, Travis & Peel ( mandolin playing optional ). All resplendent in draylon & party hats, covered in tinsel & fake snow making lecherous sideways glances just off camera towards underage girls ( Peel – I’m looking at YOU here…. ) Artists should include Wizzard, the Pogues, Jona Lewie, and Shakey. Slade, with mutton chopped Noddy & preposterously coiffeured Dave Hill, must be number one. Mirrored top hats compulsory. “Super Yob” guitar optional.
4:00 – Bond Film Neither know nor care which one. Merely white noise whilst I sleep off unfeasibly large Christmas meal, Miniature Heroes & peanuts all the while breaking wind like a Stevedore. Helpful if it includes bald villain on kitsch 70’s swivel chair stroking white cat, hatching fiendish plots & uttering lines such as “Ah Mr Bond, we meet again. But this time the advantage is mine” (copyright Viz 1989). 6:00 – News Nothing ever happens on Christmas day. Actually, there will be some atrocity in the Middle East but this will be glossed over to show the Queen in Church accepting a teddy off some gurning old dear who’s not had the gas on since October to pay for it.
6:30 – Only Fools & Horses Not the flabby overblown caricatures who took the money & ran towards the end but the sharp, half hour 1983 special where Del Boy’s dad comes back with a different blood group to Del. Cue hilarity at Grandad’s gravy, Delboy being called the Lone Ranger & the fact the estranged Trotter had robbed the chief gynaecologists Lambretta from some hospital in Newcastle.
Commercial Time Henry Cooper & Barry Sheene splash it all over as Patrick Mower drinks Babycham, probably whilst smoking a Hamlet (..”The mild cigar…from Benson & Hedges”).
7:00 – Generation Game Just in time to greet the inevitable round of turkey butties, the big boys come out to play. Plumped for Forsyth here but honourable mention must also go to Grayson ( not Davidson ). Bruce’s rug is suitably seasonal & the goofy Anthea is twirling like her life depended on it in a “tasteful” pastel blue tarpaulin. Festive twists on the usual pot throwing & baton twirling games topped off by a panto inclusive of Frankie Howerd & The Kings Singers. Prizes to include luggage, a fondue set &….a cuddly toy!
8:00 – Morecambe & Wise The Rolls Royce of light entertainment. Rejoice in the sheer genius that was Eric Morecambe & his much undervalued straight man. A cavalcade of cheek slapping, bifocal adjustment & grapefruit squeezing. Gaze in wonder as Eric plays all the right notes (but not necessarily in the right order), Angela Rippon high kicks & a coke fuelled, suspender clad Frank Bough somersaults acrobatically, fresh from having his arse tanned by a dominatrix brass. Timeless.
9:00 – The Two Ronnies Close second to M&W. Awesome entertainment from two all time legends. Must include dressing as unconvincing women or children’s characters for lavish musical numbers with clever plays on words (possibly about fork handles). Little Ron, sporting the latest in terrace fashion knitwear, must labour over a drawn out monologue bemoaning his producer’s fiscal limitations. There should be an episode of the Phantom Raspberry Blower of old London Town or “The worm that turned”and the whole thing should be topped off with “It’s a merry Christmas from me & a happy New Year from him”. Trust me, it doesn’t come any better than this.
10:00 – The Office Christmas Special Two parter & the most recent inclusion. Quite simply, one of the most perfect 2 hours of TV it's ever been my pleasure to witness. Everything about it was exquisite, from Brent's reaction to the fat blind date through to the look on that smarmy bastard of a boss' face when Brent's tasty bird arrives. Stick 2 fingers up as David finally tells Finchy to fuck off then shed a tear as Tim & Dawn get together. Right. Can I ask you a question? Who does your tampons?
12:00 – Carry On Film What better way to round the evening off. Seeing as “Screaming” has probably been shown a couple of months earlier for Halloween, I’ll go for “Khyber” or “Follow that Camel”. Either’s good for slumping down & making yourself sick on nuts, Newberry Fruits & all manner of shite you wouldn’t entertain the other 364 days of the year.
Words caressed by an overly sentimental Finton Stack. Special thanks ( & a knowing tap on the nose ) to the good folks of TV Cream for providing the inspiration. In loving memory of all the greats mentioned here who are no longer with us yet gave us so much happiness.
10) The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping Annoyingly quirky number that’s on loads of compilations but no one knows what its name is. Daft yanks rattling on about nothing in particular from 1981. Shouldn’t be festive but it is.
9) The Pretenders – 2000 Miles Vegan, animal rights size queen Chrissie Hynde takes time off from firebombing McDonalds to show her sensitive side. She’s moaning about some bloke who’s buggared off 2000 miles away ( wise man ) but reckons he’ll be back at Christmas. Yes luv. Of course he will…………Still, nice enough tune though.
8) Jona Lewie – Stop the Cavalry Released in 1980 on the fiercely indie Stiff Records ( home to Elvis Costello & the infamous “If it ain’t Stiff, it ain't worth a f***” motto ), the Fred Harris lookalike went all Blackadder Goes Forth. Only just a Christmas tune but the brass band section & sleigh bells give it the bona fide yuletide stamp. That & star billing on the 1980 “Cheggers Plays Pop” Christmas special.
7) Mike Oldfield – In Dulci Jubilo Traditional English ditty given an update by the quintessential 70’s synth lunatic. The kind of tune you could imagine being played as ruddy cheeked yokels & busty maidens frolicked on snowy village greens in days of yore. Now more likely to be battered by bearded real ale drinkers playing bodrums & penny whistles whilst paedophiles in arran sweaters nod approvingly.
6) Greg Lake – I believe in Father Christmas Except he doesn’t really, if you listen to the lyrics. Instead, the colossus of navel gazing prefers to bleat on about being promised “snow this Christmas…..peace on earth” with a barely concealed level of cynicism even I’m shocked by. The video also has camels & explosions. Bizarre. The straight lift of Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kije” by Keith Emerson’s keyboard middle section rescues this prog navel gazer & propels it into the realms of a proper Christmas tune.
5) Wizzard – I wish it could be Christmas every day Now we’re talking. The Phil Spector Wall of Sound with a Brummie accent. Ludicrous beards, stack heels, face paint & glitter stars. Team these with small children in snorkel parka’s playing pretend trumpets on TOTP & you can’t go wrong. Evocative of a time when we had proper weather & it snowed every Christmas ( except on Norley ).
4) Band Aid – Do they know its Christmas Not the shite versions that have followed but the original & best from 1984. Kept both Wham & Frankie off number one. Proper pop stars as well. Where else would you get Boy George enjoying a chop & pop session with Francis Rossi & assorted members of Shalamar? Song itself was utter wank but this didn’t matter as these were less cynical times& it was all for charidee. Except no one told the Human League who famously decided to give it a miss…….
3) Wham – Last Christmas Worthy of a mention purely for George’s highlighted bouffant & atrocious jumper, a sartorial faux pas from a man who sported a Fila BJ & Diadora Borg Elite in the Careless Whisper video only months earlier. A tale of unrequited love which, in hindsight, was probably directed towards Andrew Ridgeley. Wham made perfect pop. But this wasn’t it. Indeed, the B Side “Everything She Wants” ( a sublime slab of blue eyed soul ) pissed all over it. Still, it’s my chart & I’m including it for nostalgia alone. Kept off number one in 84 by Band Aid then in 85 by Whitney Houston before she became a crack whore.
2) Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody File alongside Wizzard in the “PROPER Christmas record” file. First released in 1973, this homage to a working class Christmas charted 7 times in all. You can almost smell the Watneys as a magnificently sideboarded Neville Holder & the “Liberace of Glam” Dave Hill camp it up for the cameras & the disturbingly under age girls that seemed to make up the bulk of a 70's TOTP audience. They, as well as us, realise that by rights they should be hod carrying somewhere near Dudley instead of arseing about in platforms & tinfoil suits. Fuck the 3 day week……………….IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAS!!!
1) Pogues & Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York No bigging up needed. It had Matt Dillon in the video & was cool as fuck. I defy anyone to hear the words “…..the boys of the NYPD choir still singing Galway Bay” without the hairs on the back of their neck standing up. Made even more poignant by the fact that Kirsty MacColl died on the 18th of December 2000. Inexplicably kept off number one by the Pet Shop Boys “Always on my mind” but pissed all over the abysmal “When I fall in love” by Newton le Willows’ finest Rick Astley.
Words by Finton “I Wish it could be Christmas everyday” Stack.
As unemployment figures soar - and in view of the fact that they may become a thing of the past - here are some of The Mudhutter's favourite workplace stitch ups, wind ups and downright filthiness
From the shopfloor:
1. The Johnny Wilkinson. This involves lining up four cardbord boxes, four lads, one of them being a new apprentice are lined up to try to kick their boxes over the wood rack. Three of the boxes are empty. The one the apprentice is kicking is a box full of metal screws. The look on their face as they swing a boot at a box and it moves about half an inch is a picture.
2. The concealed turd. This has been done in various forms. The one which seemed to go down best was done on a young lad who had a car that was perminately full of rubbish. A turd was hidden in the pocket thing of the drivers door. He drove round with his head out of the window for a week before the coin dropped .
3. The April fool. A few that I can remember are when we rang a lad up from another works and covinced him he'd won a thousand quids worth of musical equipment. He jumped straight into the works van and drove to Dawsons in Wigan to collect his voucher.
One lad was a junior British bodybuilding champion. We found out a bodybuilding products firm were cocidering offering him a sponsorship. We had him shouting down the phone in the office in front of the boss and his staff "Im the biggest Im the best. In fact Im awesome" because he thought he was taking part in an audition for a radio advertising campaign for the firm.
A chubby apprentice was told to take a note to a local shop near our works. The note said "This is a stick up. Give me all the pie's and cakes or I will sit on you".
4. The anal insertion. Never leave anything lying around the brew room. One lad disscovered his Vicks sinex had been stuffed up somebodies arse before he'd used it. The same happened to a lads cig. One apprentice left his phone and his sister recieved a text telling her he was going to "Cum on her tit's".
5. One unpopular apprentice loved his car stereo so much he had a sun visor with Kenwood on it. It had been altered to say Ken Dodd for two weeks before he noticed. Another time his registration number was skillfully changed to read "EL CUNTO" and he was stopped by the police.
From the office:
1. Sellotape down the receiver button on the phone, when the phone rings, receiver is lifted and it keeps ringing. This requires careful application of tape to avoid visibility.
2.Changing the mouse settings to lefthanded.
3. If a ball mouse, remove the ball.
4. Change contrast/brightness/colour down to black.
5. Move the letter indexes on a rollerdex
6. Take one bite out of someones sandwiches
7. Changing the letters on a keyboard to either spell rude words or confuse those who have to look at the keys M & N are the best for this.
8.Loosen holepunch base and ask a colleague to pass it to you.
9. The usual 'give me a word' game, to sneak into phone calls, presentations and meetings without detection.
10. Putting all your colleagues personal effects into a winster box whilst they are at lunch, with a post-it note to speak to the boss (assuming they are in on it).
11. Swapping over the telephone sockets so it is someone else's phone that rings.
12. A real beauty for confusing people who lock there computer to stop people from twatting about with it while they are out, is to put a space after the user name so when they put their password in it won't unlock. This usually only works with the windows classic logon screen.
13. If someone has brought a bag in and is going off on a plane/train later in the day, fill it with assorted old mice/keyboards/leads, it's best not to make it too heavy though as they usually find out.
From the traditional design/art studio or an operating theatre. Ask to borrow a surgical scalpel (providing its the Swan Morton removable blade type) and wait a few minutes.
Then shout your colleague's name, add 'thanks mate' and throw it back to them having removed the blade.
The number of people who innocently cup their hands to catch it a nanosecond before screaming as it hit is unbelievable.
From the man on the move:
Setting my van sharing mate on fire with a blow torch, I not nearly, really pissed myself.
Was worth it tho. Bit dangerous at 85 on the M62....
When I was a school I had a mate who had a pair of trainers, nothing strange in that of course, we all did, especially in the 80s, I loved my Adidas Kick and New Balance Bryan Robson trainers, but this guy had the same pair for years. They were plain black, with a long tongue and I mean long. They actually resembled a pair of rugby boots but with no studs of course.
And like I say he had them for years, in fact I think he had them for the majority of time we were at high school. They were that durable that he could play football in there, run in them and wear them casually and they never split or ripped. They were a pair of Walsh trainers. Sadly I never had a pair of them in those days, I was too easily seduced by the three stripes.
Over the weekend I was doing a spot of shopping and popped into Life, a clothes shop that has had many a penny from me over the years, but sadly in the last few, not too much. Anyway, there I was mooching around when I noticed a rack of shoes, and there it was, the name, Walsh. The name stirred up the olden days, and that immortal pair of black trainers, I had to take a wander over. There were no black leather trainers there, but these beauties stared at me back from the rack
I was in love again, I had to touch them, to have a feel. I was reborn, never mind the three stripes, the trainers that everyone these days wear. The Walsh Bazley are the trainers that I need to get on my feet.
Walsh, in case you didn't know, is a local company based in Bolton, so not only do my feet get the fantastic trainers they are used to, but my custom stays in the region. Everyone is a winner.
A request for a pair for my birthday in January has already been made.
Originally produced in 1972 to coincide with the Munich Olympics the shoe was reissued a while back in a full leather finish, but this version is faithful to the first generation. That means a nylon weave body with suede detailing, a 'running shoe' type sole and should you want to pass them off as a first edition, a vintage hand-finishing treatment to create a slightly aged look.
Choose from three authentic colour schemes (including the two above), with pre-orders priced around £60.