It’s a Fairytale


It’s December again, and once more I am recording/celebrating the annual return of the greatest Christmas song in history, The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s “A Fairytale of New York”.

It’s hit the Singles chart again, for the fifteenth time and for the thirteenth successive year, and this time, by jumping from 55 to 10, today, it’s reached the top 10 for the fifth time, and the first since 2007.

And for some reason, this is a nostalgia heavy Christmas pop period, because Mariah Carey is at no 5, Wham at no 6 and Band Aid at 16. Even Shakin’ Stevens and Wizzard have crashed the top 30. All this with two more charts to go. And whilst I hold no brief for either Mariah or George Michael, it would fill me with delight if either one of those, or both, could knock Simon Cowell’s latest into a cocked hat.

I’d love it even more if it were “Fairytale of New York”, which peaked at no 2 first time round, exactly thirty years ago this year, but I’m content with what it’s already achieved. According to Wikipedia, it’s the most played Xmas song of the 21st century in the UK, so you’ll already be familiar with it, but here it comes again, together with the tears that cannot help but well every time I play this, and I think of poor, wonderful Kirsty, killed 17 years ago, but who will never ever die because this record will be around as long as people have ears.

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At Last…


… I’m online, and on-laptop for that matter. Starting last night, when I logged off, and continuing all this morning until literally minutes ago, I have been blocked from several planned activities by the unbelievable slowness of a Windows 10 update.

Seriously, I have climbed Lakeland fells in the time this update has taken to progress, more than one, and I am not talking about the Latrigg’s and Black Fells of this world. It has been horrendously slow and has threatened to derail certain plans I had for today by delaying me for so long.

And for what? You tell me: I just cancelled the big fancy stuff about what they’ve done for me, especially as the shit about making it easier for me to connect to my (non-existent) smart phone. I rely on the things I have been unable to do so far to help keep me just about sane.

Until now, I haven’t had a bad word to say about Windows 10: it’s given me no problems (Dell crappy laptops is another thing,don’t get me started) but this is a serious p*******r.

Heads must roll for this, or at least kneecaps.

An hour of Radio One


I haven’t listened to Radio One for an hour’s stretch – actually, nearly ninety minutes – since I can’t remember which decade. Long, long ago, I decided that it was not offering anything desirable to a man of my generation and that it was no longer playing any music aimed at someone like me.

This afternoon, after doing a mini-shift to pay back the time allowed me on Friday evening, I went straight round the corner to the Barbers, where I had to wait over an hour just to get into the chair.

An hour of Radio One, of somebody called Greg James. An hour of nothing but dance music, barring one quasi-rock song, with varying degrees of tune to it, but not what you’d call music, not really, it’s just noise. An hour of being my mother and father, except that I was aware I was thinking exactly the same things they thought fifty years ago, and that I was not saying them aloud.

But I was thinking them loudly.

Never again. I’ll have to find another Barbers, for reasons other than the music I hasten to add, though it is a factor. I don’t want to replay the past that much, certainly not the bits where I have to move over to the other side of the ride.

Whatever happened to Mark’n’Lard?

Sometimes it’s not Crap Journalism


I’m quick to call out the Guardian for Crap Journalism (although I’m thinking of maybe renaming it Crap Above And Beyond The Call Of Everyday Crap Journalism because I let so much of it go), but I try to be equally quick to point out the ones that should be praised, for intelligence, for sensitivity, for just being human in a way we don’t see often enough.

I’ve always liked Hadley Freeman.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/25/wasnt-feminist-theory-cured-anorexia

David Cassidy, R.I.P.


Suddenly, the rush is back with us. Rodney Bewes yesterday, David Cassidy today, and I didn’t even mention Jana Novotna, one of the nicest Wimbledon winners there’s ever been, on Monday. It’s like being back in 2016 again.

I confess that David Cassidy was not a favourite of mine in any way. I certainly never liked his music, and this was emphasised by the cover versions he recorded of two of the sweetest pop ballads of the Sixties, The Association’s ‘Cherish’ and The Rascals’s ‘How Can I Be Sure?’, which he took to No. 1 over here.

As a singer, he was one for the little girls. My ex-wife once told me that, at school, it was like tribes: there were the Osmonds, the Jacksons and David Cassidy and you had to take sides, even if you had no real preferences any way. She chose the Osmonds because that was who most of her friends had picked. No, not my thing, even at that semi-nascent stage of my musical development.

But we used to watch The Partridge Family each week, and I didn’t object, so I must have found it funny to some degree, though I expect I’d find it all a hideous experience now, though I’d probably find myself fancying Shirley Jones more than the young Susan Dey if I did.

Jones was Cassidy’s stepmother. His daughter, I have learned today, was Katie Cassidy, of Arrow, though they were estranged.

David Cassidy was never in any sense someone who I cared about, but for all that he’s no less a part of the web of memories that constitute part of my life, and he’s another one down. And I don’t like the way the toll is accelerating again.

Whatever happened to this Likely Lad?


He’s the one on the right

I remember The Likely Lads from the Sixties, at first on TV and then on the radio, in adaptations made by James Bolam himself. My memories are brief: only one exchange about the ‘three star’ system – a horribly chauvinistic but absolutely typical concept – that went completely over my head at that tender age.

I also remember Rodney Bewes’ solo vessel, the ITV sitcom, Dear Mother, Love Albert, but here I only really remember that we watched it, and nothing of what we heard or saw.

But I was sixteen in 1972, when the BBC and writers Dick Clement and Ian La Fresnais brought back Whatever happened to the Likely Lads? and it changed the face of British sitcoms in a more subtle way than Steptoe and Son had done a decade before, but no less effectively. Thirteen episodes, a sequence building one upon another, that blended very effective and very real comedy with genuine emotion. As sitcoms go, it all but eliminated the ‘sit’ whilst being so utterly ‘com’ that we all roared along.

A second series wasn’t as focused, and the film was enjoyable but well below the standard set, and then James Bolam fell out with his co-star and refused to speak to him for the rest of their lives. Bewes fell on hard time and unlike Bolam never recovered any of the glory of starring on TV.

And now he’s gone, just a week or so short of his eightieth birthday. But for his falling out with Bolam, Clement and La Fresnais had expressed the wish to return to Bob and Terry, at five year intervals, dipping into lives that were ordinary and real and which they could make funny almost at will, by being no more than reporters of the natural comedy between friends who don’t really have all that much in common.

It never happened: another reason to journey to Earth-2. But a sitcom that ended forty years ago was so good that by itself it would be enough to celebrating the life of Rodney Bewes for.

The Anaesthetic, wearing off…


Nostalgia is the engine which drives this blog, or so it mostly seems, but not all of the past is a playground to visit.There are places I would seriously rather not revisit, and the Dentist, for my first extraction since 1979, is one of them.

I can’t remember, last time round, whether they did it under General Anaesthetic or by Injection. I suspect the latter: I have an unsurprisingly clear memory of sitting in the BBC TV room at Alexandra Court in the evening, feeling the numbness in the right side of my face, lips and jaw slowly shrinking , and knowing that as soon as it vanished, pain was going to come in its place.

But I’d really rather just be switched off and brought back when it’s all over and the dentist’s fingers are not inside my mouth any more. That way, there wouldn’t be the metal things in my mouth, the gripping and clawing that’s going on that I can’t feel, except as the sensation of pressure, the realisation that my crumbling molar with the exposed nerve is not giving up it’s place on my lower right jawline, and then suddenly everything is withdrawn, it’s out, it’s over, and I can be hustled out because the next patient is ready.

So that’s why we no longer get General Anaesthetics. It’s not a Health and Safety concern over knocking the patient out completely and maybe sometimes completely really meaning completely, it’s to avoid the boring bit of waiting for him or her to wake up, and then to come around, and be able to not only stand on their own two feet without dropping but also move them in a direction of their own choice. No, if you keep them awake through it, that massively cuts down the delay in shooting them out, with their traumas.

That the armrests of the dentist’s chair don’t bear the imprints of my clutching fingers until the end of time, or at least the next office rebranding, is not for want of effort on my part. In truth, the whole thing was a pretty ordinary, almost dull experience, and I was home before 10.00am, having restocked on painkillers. But all of this was before the anaesthetic wore off…

Postscript: Boy, did I get away with it! I was convinced that pain, major pain, was coming. So I put one of the gauze thingies in my mouth, pressed it down into the unexpectedly wide cavity, and bit down. Kept it there for a good two hours, maybe as many as three, whilst my brain went somewhere else, I dunno, maybe Miami. And when I removed the saliva and blood-soaked thing, I was almost back to full feeling, and whilst there’s an underlying soreness there, and one or two phantom moments of conviction that the blasted things is still there, I am now several hours into post-anaesthesia and I am still not in pain.

Doesn’t seem right, somehow. Don’t tell me I can’t even rely on being shit-scared of Dentists either.