Thursday, 30 June 2011

melancholic post-situationist

Robert Montgomery hijacks advertising space, often illegally. He replaces adverts with attempts to describe in a public space what it feels like to live now. This stuff is melancholy, austere and beautiful.

An example text:



I have mixed feelings about Henry Rollins.

When I watch clips of his spoken word shows, there are lines with which I strongly disagree. In 2007, he stood up and ran down the whole broad genre of electronic dance music. This doesn't work for me. All these years after hanging up my own dancing shoes, I can still be transported back to more hedonistic times by the clatter, rumble and clang of the tunes I loved back in the day. Less often, I can even hear a dance music piece made since the early 1990s that floats my boat at least a little. I don't know what the hell all the different sub-genres are currently called, or which of them are associated with which lifestyle choices, fashion items, social classes, youth tribes, venues and whatnot. I'm far, far too old to have remained connected to the minutiae. But I still think that stuff has its place and I'm glad it's not dead. So Rollins and I part company on that issue.

On others, the big man and I are closer together.

He thinks most current rock music is boring and samey. So do I.

He sees evil in the purveyors of processed fast foods. So do I. "These people want you gassy, lazy, stupid, intellectually incurious, forever watching reruns, just farting into the couch, doing nothing with your life" says Rollins.

He's also struggled with a hardwired tendency to be relentlessly cynical. So have I. He's more lately tried to see cynicism for what it is (a cowardly retreat from having to confront the complexities of reality). So have I. But he still sees anger as an important part of his emotional range. That's about how I feel about anger, even in the face of some people close to me apparently believing that all rage is always a bad thing. Fuck that. Anger is an energy, right? It helps to get things done.

The former Black Flag singer also describes an attitude to dating and marriage that I recognise as one I used to have myself. The unmarried Rollins constantly refers on stage to his inability to get laid and his reliance on masturbation for the relief of his sexual urge. At one gig, he talks about dating and how it hasn't worked for him. "I'm one of those horrible men who judges women by the most shallow criterion," he admits, advising guys not to try to judge a woman by asking her about her top three records or top five foreign films of all time. In the routine that follows, his kicks dates out of his car for variously listening to Nickleback, for not being much of a reader and for reading Harry Potter novels. 

I would have done the same myself a little while ago, I think. Well, not quite. I would have tried to get laid at least once while all the time knowing that I couldn't have constructed a workable relationship  with someone whose tastes in music, books or whatever varied too much from my own. So I guess Rollins is a lot more honourable than I was in my bachelor days.

I also differ from Rollins in that I found a way to move beyond all that. One day, I realised that I got along just fine with a lady with whom I didn't have that much in common in terms of books, records, films etc. She allowed me to marry her and we're still getting on pretty well a good few years later. Large chunks of our lives have not intersected. She will never read a Charles Bukowski novel. I'll never read Lionel Shriver. She'll always feel pretty unimpressed when I crank up some Killdozer, Mudhoney or, indeed, some Henry Rollins Band. I'll never like the fucking godawful Scissor Sisters. 

Apropos of Henry's post-Black Flag musical efforts, I have two great memories associated with that act. One is of being right up the front when the Rollins Band played to a tiny, packed hall at the art college in a smallish town in the south of England in 1988 or 1989. Shirtless, sweating, Rollins bellowed at some idiot who'd decided it might be a good idea to grab the singer's microphone stand. "Do I come into your work and fuck with your tools?" Henry demanded to know. 

A few years later, I found myself making my living in Poland, trying to connect with like minded Poles rather than selecting playmates just on the basis of their being fellow native speakers of English. So I was at this party in a house notorious in the city for its great, loud, wild parties. My head was spinning with vodka and with trying to keep up with dark, crazy talk po polsku. I rested on a sofa next to a guy whose tender years were belied by his thinning hair. He had a little satanic beard and was rocking back and forth in a catatonic stylee. From the host's impressive stereo speakers, one of my favourite ever songs was booming out: Do It by the Henry Rollins Band

"Yeah, motherfucker," the funny little Polish guy said, turning to look right into me with the eyes of a madman. "Do it. Just fucking do it, man."

That little feller is still one of my favourite people in the world. I don't see him too often anymore. But he's one of the good ones. We bonded to the sound of a particularly raucous Rollins number.

I don't buy everything Rollins says. Sometimes I think he's barking right up trees that are all wrong for me. But he will always make me laugh and I'll always have a grin when I think of the little but important parts his music has played in the story of my life.

I thought he was pretty good in Sons of Anarchy too.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

do you want special sauce with that?

It's the summer of 1999 and to make ends meet I go back to the language school and they give me the job of being the Director of Studies at a young learners' residential course centre. It's not the job I wanted from them. It means driving the ten miles or so in each direction. But they really need someone with a Diploma to be there as DoS so I have some leverage. So I am able to insist on not being there round the clock. Unlike the Centre Director, who has to take care of all the admin and welfare stuff, I get to go home at night and treat it as a day job.

The courses take place in a girls' school in the centre of the town. I've never really spent any time inside a private school. I expected it to be better kept. But the place seems almost as run down as the boys' grammar school I attended. There is disrepair. Parts of it are kind of seedy.

The whole thing is a nightmare. Many of the kids are there to have English classes in the morning and golf lessons in the afternoon. These kids are from Spain, Germany, Belgium and Holland. They arrive in ones and twos in nice cars, their very pleasant parents heading off to do something else in England. I don't know why the Dutch ones bother with English lessons. They speak the language better than the young golf coordinators, who really are fucking arseholes. Cocky little bastards. They resent it when they're asked to do basic things like not throw their cigarette ends on the ground in front of the students. I pass by the room where they keep their kit and have their meetings. I hear them talking about me and about Rachel, the Centre Director. I get so angry that I kick the small safe where petty cash is kept in our makeshift office. I hurt my toe quite badly. Impotent rage. Only damages the self. I know that. I do it anyway. Over and over again, never learning.

We don't have the right materials for the students. The head office keeps sending me terrible teachers. The lessons I observe are horrible. No structure. No outcome. A waste of everybody's time. When I try to give one young blond guy my feedback on his observation, he looks at me as if I am insane. These people think Rachel and I are crazy for trying to get things done the right way.

So I go to the office on my way home one evening to make my feelings known. I've tried going into it on the phone, but nobody listens. My messages are not returned. 

I try to find the owner. I know he is really in his office when I'm told that he isn't. I know that he hides in a blind spot that can't be seen from the doorway when somebody comes looking for him, for money, for help. So I make do with a visit to the Courses Coordinator. I vent my spleen a little and she sympathises. She promises she'll find some better people and send me some more stuff.

"Give me some books to take away now. I've got the car outside."
"I can't do that," she says.

There's a young blonde woman in her office. I wonder who she is. She's sort of cute. When she stands up, I see she's very short, even on the quite high platform sandals she has on her little feet. She is very pale skinned, with flinty grey eyes that keep looking steadily at me as I'm trying to get some better books for the classes. She looks unhappy. Her gaze is uncomfortably intense.

"This is Eleanor," I'm told.
"Hi, Eleanor."

Eleanor follows me out to the car, helping to move some of the materials I eventually manage to procure. Her accent is Scottish.

"So you're working here full time?"
"Just for the summer," she tells me. "I've been studying up at the university. But I'm going to transfer."
"You don't like it?"
"Not really. I need somewhere bigger. More interesting."
"Fair enough. This is not an exciting town to be a student, I guess."
"It isn't."
"I'll find out myself soon. I'm taking a masters here, starting in the autumn. I'll be teaching in the English Language Unit up there to get by. Helping foreign undergrads cheat in their essays and stuff like that."

She doesn't seem to get the joke.

"So, do you want to get a drink or something?" she asks me.
"OK. You don't mean now?"
"No, but soon."

So I meet her at the Parrot and it's a strange conversation. Her voice is very quiet. She rarely smiles and she seems uncomfortable the whole time. But in other ways she's encouraging me to be interested in her. She asks me what I like doing. I don't like doing much more than taking drugs, reading books and trying to get laid. So I focus on the books when I answer. She asks me which authors I like, and each time I name one she tells me that she likes him too. I can feel her small foot resting on my shin under the table. It moves a little. She wants me to feel that. She is wearing a shiny dark-coloured blouse which is tight on her chest. The uppermost buttons are parted and the others strain to contain her. She is a small person, but she has fat, round, pale tits and she wants me to notice them. I do. I like them. She's a strange girl. I can't work her out. But I like the tits and the way she seems to be making her availability very obvious. I don't believe I am going to get along well with her because she seems so humourless. Her answers are short and tell me nothing. She's secretive. I wonder how badly damaged she is and who has damaged her.

But I decide I'm going to take up the apparent offer. She'll be leaving for her new university in the north within a month. It's a bloody awful summer. I hate the job and it rains every second or third day. Eleanor could offer some respite.

She's been living in a little flat not far from where I'm staying. So I walk over there on the Sunday afternoon. She admits me into the place wordlessly and, again, conversation is not easy. 

"What do you like a woman to wear?" she asks me out of the blue. 

I've never been asked this question so I don't really know what to say.

"Do you like high heels? Sexy underwear?"
"Sure," I say. "Why not?"
"Come and look at this."

She leads me to her bedroom and shows me a lot of tiny high heeled shoes. She slides her feet into one pair. Her sturdy little calves change shape as she enters them and begins to walk around, wiggling her fat little bottom. Of course I'm aroused. We kiss and she takes off her clothes. She keeps her high heels on and lies on the bedroom floor. She opens her legs more lewdly than I've ever seen it done. 

There is something desperate and aggressive about the hurried blowjob she forces on me. It's not comfortable. She grips too tightly with her small hand and her teeth are too involved in it. I lose patience and push her onto her back. I am between her short thighs. She doesn't want any gentleness. Her nails are in my back, pulling me close to her, trying to crush me into her, like she wants us to merge. Her round breasts are an obstruction, the embrace so tight I am pushing them into strange new shapes. She doesn't make eye contact and resists kisses to her mouth. All she says to me is to go faster and harder. It should be exciting. But it isn't.

I get dressed and I notice for the first time what look like a lot of old bruises on her pale legs.

Three days later I'm standing in the dark outside the school's indoor swimming pool. Rachel passes me a joint and we talk quietly. I'm telling her about Eleanor.

"She sounds a little strange," says Rachel.
"She is. I thought I liked that. But I'm not sure with this one."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I don't know."

We really skimp on entertainment. The kids that don't play golf must be so bored in the afternoons. The farcical 'project-based learning' has been abandoned. The students knew it was nonsense. Just a way of keeping them occupied without our spending any money. Two very bright Russian girls confronted me with exactly that accusation. They knew from how I avoided a straight answer that they were right. The rainy days are the worst.

Eleanor is given a strange job to do on one of those rainy days. Somehow, somebody at the head office has persuaded her to come down to Ashford and lead an embarrassing afternoon activity. With her quiet voice and her restrained manner, she is not well suited to the difficult task of getting a group of very pissed off European teenagers involved in her display of Scottish folk dancing. She looks ridiculous, carrying on despite their mocking laughter and hostile stares. I'm at the back of the room, looking at her little feet making pointy shapes. I can't stand it. I leave for the office and hide there, constantly checking my watch to ensure I will not be around when the dancing stops.

"Eleanor was looking for you," says Rachel.
"I bet."
"She seemed  annoyed that you weren't around."
"If you're not into her you should say something."
"You're right."

I'm watching the TV several days after that and I hear the letterbox banging shut. There's a handwritten note from Eleanor:

You bastard: you think you can just fuck me and leave me? You're not a man.

I put it in the bin and go back to the television.

The summer ends and life changes a little. The university is OK. Everything is clean and works well. The campus is green and spacious. I don't find the study or the work to be too hard. Some of it is interesting. I know what I have to do and I do it.

The undergraduates seem to be very dull. They have come here to pass the time and to learn the sense of entitlement they will carry around during their working lives in offices in London. On Friday and Saturday nights I just go to the home of a married couple who are friends of mine. I've known Mark since we were kids. He has a proper house and a wife and he's talking about having a child. He makes good money. We drink a lot of vodka and red wine and most weekends we do coke in his living room. Sometimes we weave out as far the the fried chicken place on the high street. We've nearly had fights in there at least half a dozen times. He speaks incautiously to drunk and stupid people. It never goes well. The Turkish guy in there always asks if we want special sauce.

Special sauce is just a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise. It's not very special.

One day I need to move from one level of the university library to another. I use the stairs. Two blandly handsome students are on the stairs ahead of me. They have stopped to talk. Rugby shirts. Hair styled to look like it's not been styled. Tall.

"So, he was like I left my fleece at your place, I want it back and I'm like fuck off, mate."
"You're hilarious, mate."

The stairwell is not very wide. They are stationary, blocking the way. They see me advancing up towards them and they don't move. I stand there. Nothing happens.

"Excuse me," I say.

Very reluctantly, they move a little closer to the walls, creating a marginally smaller space through which I might be able to pass. I squeeze through. The record bag I use to carry folders and books touches one of them on the way past. I hear one of the voices behind me say the word "twat". I keep going. I am a twat for wanting to use the stairs for getting from one storey to another. They own the stairs. It's their stairway. It's their library. They own it. They own the world. You are nothing. You're just an object. They notice you for a moment when you cause some inconvenience. Get used to them.

I get up to the third floor. The queue to use a computer is shorter there. After less than ten minutes of waiting for a free terminal, I get one and sit down. I remember to turn off my Philips mobile phone. I'm glad to move the weight and bulk of it out of my pocket and onto the desk.

I use Netscape Navigator and Alta Vista to surf the web for a little while and then hit the Usenet newsgroups. At alt.books.bukowski, I had initially expected to find people with whom I might discuss the dirty old man of San Pedro and all his works. The lunatics there have all read Bukowski, but they are more interested in trolls and flame wars. A year ago, I barely knew what the internet was. Now I'm living online in lieu of the life I can't seem to build at the university or in the town.

I see that Googolpex, the bull moose of alt.books.bukowski has replied to every one of the messages I wrote on my last visit. Googolplex owns a light bulb store in Chicago. I didn't even know you could get a store that stocked only light bulbs. It seems overly specialised. He never answers when I ask about that.  He calls me gay just about every time I write something. Yet he's always asking me to blow him for a nickel. I can't work out why a straight man accusing another straight man of being a homosexual would ask for oral sex. It kind of undermines the allegation.

I write a few long replies to Googolplex and to some others. Then I mess around with the layout of the Bukowski tribute website I built to practise using html. I see that a few more messages have been posted at the messageboard attached to the site. One of them interests me more than the others. Because it's written by Caitlin.

My email inbox contains many long messages from Caitlin. To read them back is to see a kind of courtship unfold. She loves Bukowski. That's how she found me - via this website. I only know one person in the real world who loves Bukowski - the friend who sent me Buk's novel Post Office when I was working abroad. In the virtual world of alt.books.bukowski I 'know' a whole gang of his fans. None of them are women.

Caitlin says she's Irish but living in Glasgow. She has some office job. She has a Geocities page with a few wounded poems. I don't like them. But I tell her that I do. We exchange several emails a day. She knows versions of the stories of my failed relationships. She knows what I think of the people around me and of the existence I have. She understands. She feels the same. It has become flirtatious. I know she has big tits. I know she likes leather and poetry and spanking. I get a hard on each time I open her latest message. It is beyond flirtatious now. She keeps saying very dirty  things and then, in the next email, saying she can't believe she's writing this stuff to me. She's never written like this to anyone ever. She loves my mind, she says. She feels close to me, but she knows that's crazy.

Caitlin and I are nervous because in a week's time I will be in Scotland to attend the wedding of a guy I used to work with. I'm really only going up there to meet her.

I want to give you my cunt, she writes. I want you to hurt me with your big cock. She doesn't know that my cock isn't all that big.

We have discussed what will happen if there is no physical attraction at all. We have discussed what will happen if only one of us is attracted to the other. We will walk away as friends and with no hard feelings.

After spending half the day with the groom and his friends, I slip away to meet Caitlin. I still haven't heard her voice. 

She is waiting in the pub. She is, as described online, a tiny but voluptuous person: tits, hips and all that on an otherwise small frame. Her hair is black, with purple dye here and there. It goes quite well with an outfit of black satin, lace and leather. Sort of gothic. Not usually my thing. But she has constructed an intense module of erotic pressure from the intersection of her pale flesh and the dark materials. Her eyes are sad, steady and grey. My brain spins. The hair is different. The clothes are different. But this is Eleanor.

I sit down, and then I'm not sure this is Eleanor. I never took a picture of her. This girl is the same size and shape. Her eyes are the same colour, I think. But nothing about her expression or how she greets me suggests that she has met me in person before.

"Wow," she says. "It's amazing to meet you finally. I've been so nervous."

Her accent is Scottish.

"I thought," I say carefully, "that you were Irish. Your accent doesn't sound Irish."

I hope the remark sounds innocent.

"Well, I was born in Ireland, but I've lived here since I was about ten years old."

I try to remember if this is what she's told me online. I can't find that part of the story anywhere in my head.

We drink, then walk and talk. Her dagger sharp high heels clatter on the pavements. She takes my hand.

"Here goes," she says. She stands on tiptoes to kiss me. It feels good and I return it.
"This might work," I tell her. But I can't decide if I'm kissing Caitlin or Eleanor.

A week later she comes all the way down the length of the country by bus to see me. I walk up to the bus station to meet her. Her hair now has more purple in it. It doesn't look as good. She's wearing an alarmingly short skirt and her pale blue sweater is horrible. She looks like a barmaid in a bad pub. I decide I can't take her to Mark and Sarah's place as planned. I'll have to tell her that they have gone away at short notice. I know that if she turns up at their house looking like this, Mark will say something when the mix of drink and coke makes him even less diplomatic than usual. So she doesn't look presentable. But she looks fuckable.

I can't go down on her. The smell between her legs isn't good. So I just stick it in and fuck her. Her eyes are blank and her nails dig in. Her tits are fat and her hard little heels press my flesh. I'm almost certain that I'm fucking Eleanor. I'm almost sure that Caitlin is a construction of Eleanor's mind.

When I roll away, I see traces of menstrual blood on my cock and on the sheets. I'm disgusted. Why the fuck did she come down here at her time of the month? Why wasn't I warned?

But I don't say anything and I know I'll do it again to avoid having to talk about why I don't want to do it again.

She takes a shower and I search her bag and her purse. All her ID says Caitlin Collins. Not Eleanor Burns.

So Eleanor and Caitlin are two different people. I must be losing my mind faster than I'd thought. I need to ease up on the cocaine. I need to get out of myself and into the world.

Unless Caitlin Collins is the real person and Eleanor Burns was a made-up character. No, that's stupid. How could she have got a job at the language school's head office by using a false name? They would need to see her bank details and her national insurance information.

I am losing it. It's just a coincidence that the last two women I've had sex with are both short, with large breasts, grey eyes, Scottish accents and a blank, detached manner. That could happen. That has happened.

I tell her by email that it just didn't feel right. That although our minds met online, something didn't click for me. She expresses disappointment but no hostility.

The emails become less frequent and less interesting. I start to forget about her.

One day, months later, she crosses my mind. I enter her email address into Alta Vista's search box. The first result is for her poetry page on Geocities. I check it. She hasn't written any more poems.

The second result takes me to an online petition. Something to do with some feminist cause. I find her brief message of support. Then I notice the name of the petition entry immediately below hers: Eleanor Burns. The email address associated with the name is not visible.

I write to Caitlin. I put it all down. It's a long email which concludes with me asking her she is the same person as Eleanor Burns.

The next day I get the reply:

I'm not Eleanor Burns. I've never heard of Eleanor Burns. I don't know what you're talking about. You sound paranoid. 

I decide to take it no further.

I still don't know what to think.

Monday, 27 June 2011

koko's dirty dome

koko's dirty dome
a wide selection of
lots of
funny buggers

she got on at osterley

hefty nylon
black crackling thighs cross high,
bulk shifting,

small gold feet pointing, dainty

long hair lightens at the parting,
pale eyes and lips rest amused
at the lap, flicking that look and book she
hastily slides at terminal five into
jagged little teeth, lip balm
and darkness


that face

she's like
what's that  face for?

so I'm like
it's to stop my skull from showing, it's
to stop my head from fraying
at the front

Sunday, 26 June 2011

the maddest football team the world has ever seen?

I've not been shy about stating my opinion of the goons currently running my beloved QPR F.C. An unholy trinity of unpleasant arrivistes has set about the business of bilking lifelong, loyal supporters:

Behold peasants: we have comfier cushions in the press lounge. New players? Better players? Whaddya want those for? Waste of money. Matt Connolly and Kaspars Gorkss, bless 'em, will be equal to the task of handling Messrs. Drogba, Rooney, Torres et. al. now all your prayers have been answered by the club's elevation to the promised land of "the world's best" football league competition. For this, you mugs, you shall have the pleasure of giving us £58 (or thereabouts) for a seat that cost £30 last season. Whaddya mean it's a rip off? You're going to see the likes of Wigan, Blackburn and Bolton for that money. Like it or lump it.  If you don't want it, someone else will have your legroom-free seat and your opportunity to queue for twenty minutes to buy a greasy pasty and a pissy lager. Now buy your tickets and merchandise and fuck off, will you?

So say Andy Warhol's sinister billionaire mini-me and a fat orange vulgarian known for Formula 1 race-fixing and his convictions for fraud in Italy. So says their idiot puppet Paladini, a shady gobshite berk who claims to have been a pro footballer with Napoli in his youth (a fact which doesn't seem to have made it into that club's official records) and whose economy with the truth last season dragged QPR into an agonising FA disciplinary process that the tabloid newspapers assured us would lead to a points deduction (it didn't of course: Sun journalists, especially, make up any old bullshit and attribute it to 'a source', don't they; 'source' = voice in head or sock on hand).

So I'm used to fellow QPR supporters discussing among themselves whether this weird little club is or is not a 'laughing stock' to the wider world. I'm minded to think it isn't most of the time. But probably only because most other people just don't think about QPR very often. But maybe it is sometimes. Should anyone from outside our merry band of QPR fans look closely at our club, they would indeed find plenty of foolishness at which to point and chuckle. If Schadenfreude is your thing, you could do worse than turn your attentions to long-suffering Rangers supporters.

Another outfit vying for the unwanted title of clown prince of clubs would seem to be Edinburgh's Heart of Midlothian F.C.

Since 2005, Hearts have been the plaything of one Vladimir Romanov, an ethnic Russian businessman who is a citizen of Lithuania, where he also controls a football club in that country's second city, Kaunas. Romanov likes collecting football clubs in small European markets. He also owns FC Partizan Minsk, who ply their trade in the capital of the what many have called Europe's last dictatorship.

Since taking control of the Edinburgh club, Romanov has been accused of interfering in team selection (sound familiar, QPR fans?) and, after promising to appoint a 'top-class manager' on firing the popular George Burley in the autumn of 2005, he handed the job to Graham Rix. Hearts fans voiced some displeasure. Burley had masterminded an amazing start to the season, with wins in all of the club's first eight league fixtures. Rix had not managed since a brief, unsuccessful stint at Portsmouth three years before. There was also the small matter of his being a convicted sex offender. Rix did not last long, and was replaced by one of Romanov's countrymen, Valdas Ivanauskas.

2006 must have been a weird year for fans of the Tynecastle club. On one hand, they staged a daring attack on the Old Firm hegemony in the Scottish Premier League - the Jambos' second place finish  to the 05/06 season marked the first time since 1994-95 that any club other than Glasgow's gruesome twosome had finished in the top two positions. Hearts also won the Scottish Cup. But not longer after the new campaign was underway in the autumn, three Scotland internationals in the side announced to the media that there was significant player unrest in the dressing room. Stephen Pressley was dropped and given a free transfer for his troubles, only to be picked up by Celtic. One of his fellow malcontents, Paul Hartley, soon made the same move to Glasgow.

In the years that followed, Hearts's debt  pile has grown and players have received their wages late on two occasions. Bonuses owed to players for a good run of form in 2008 remain outstanding.

The latest bit of folly from Tynecastle comes in the form of a mysteriously weird statement on the club's website. I think it's even stranger than the time in 2009 when QPR announced the '£3.5 million' signing of a player whose recruitment and services were set to cost nothing like that much. 

In full, that Hearts statement of Friday 24th June 2011:

"What's happening with the club today is not a new thing. For almost 7 years we have been fighting to shield the club from crooks, criminals and thieves. Many of the top players at the club have felt the bitter results of the swindles that have been carried out with them on their own skin. Skacel and Webster have returned to the club after realising where these 'football patriots' have led them.
Over a short space of time 4 players at our club have been on the wrong end of the law. We note that 3 of them are represented by the same agent - Gary Mackay - who has been so vicious in his attacks against Mr Romanov.
Taking into account the facts that have been omitted by the media it can be presumed that each of these cases is not a coincidence, but the result of targeted actions of a mafia that wants to manipulate the club and the results.

Every year Hearts fights to be in the top 3, but even last season in the last 12 games of the season it was almost like someone replaced the team with a different one. Whose fault is that? Players? Manager's? Or it is mafia.

Stealing players, bad games, problems with the law - all of that on top of record SFA fines. Problems are just shifted to another level.

Mafia are dragging kids into the crime, in order to blackmail and profit on them. It is not possible to separate these people from pedophiles, and you don't need to do that. Each year we are forced to fight against these maniacs harder and harder. We are standing in their way not letting them manipulate the game of football in the way they want. As such they undermine us in every possible way they can.

The task of the club is to tear these kids out of hands of criminals."

Mad as the proverbial box of frogs. Let's see if this Gary Mackay character is going to go legal.

So, on balance, while I continue to bemoan the way my own beloved club is run, it seems that north of the border, another set of fans probably have to contend with lunacy and embarrassment of a higher order altogether. Good luck, Jambos.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

chipping away

a non-crappy non-housewife speaks

Regular visitors will know that I've lately become rather fixated on the musical stylings emanating from the little Norwegian town of Holmestrand and the pretty mouth of one Ms. Tonje  Langeteig.

Tonje, who had achieved some small degree of fame purely on the domestic scene in Norway earlier this year as a contestant on the country's version of the Dating in the Dark TV show, caused a much bigger stir in early June. Switching her attention from reality TV romancing to belting out a catchy Europop number, she caught the imagination of an international audience with her debut song I Don't Wanna Be a Crappy Housewife. Crazy title. But musically at least, it sounds like pretty standard continental fare. That tune and that arrangement wouldn't really sound out of place as a Eurovision entry.

But songs with the word 'crappy' in the title are not exactly two-a-penny, and some of the lyrics stand out as pretty unusual, even in the context of having been written by folks whose first language is not English.

As the platinum blonde chanteuse clambers slightly inelegantly from the back of a black Mercedes in the video, we hear her charmingly accented voice deliver the spoken line "Hi, my name is Tonje. I'm a little pretty girl trapped inside a grownup's body."

For this is my england everything about what follows screamed 'spoof': the hilariously bad dancing and rapping of Tonje's pals; the lingering shots of the trappings of a wannabe bling lifestyle. On its own, I'd find this pretty funny. But my bigger belly laughs rang out on seeing article after article taking the song and video to be a serious but poorly executed pop offering rather than a well planned, low budget parody. The negative comments, all missing the joke, it seemed to me, became so numerous that someone (I'd guess it was Jitse Buitnik of Stalker Management) decided to set up a Tonje Langeteig Music Video Comments Hall of Fame on Facebook. Highlights from said Hall of Fame include: "parents walked in so I quickly switched to porn" and "there are levels of retardation that most people don't even know about - until now."

Hoping to be confirmed in the belief that this is my england had understood a joke that countless others had missed, I jumped at the chance to join an online Q&A session with Tonje, kindly organised yesterday by the good people of, the entertainment portal of Norwegian tabloid newspaper Dagbladet. Time was limited, and I was the only one asking questions in English. So I missed a lot of what was going on. I did, however, manage to get a few answers from Ms.  Langeteig:

this is my england: The words of the song, the outfits and the dancing in the video: it's clearly a parody, right? Was the main intention for it to be funny?

Tonje Langeteig: Yes, no doubt about it. Catchy and funny. Me and my boys are the winners!

t.i.m.e.: I think it's hilarious that so many people around the world have bothered to give you negative feedback. It seems they don't get the joke. How do you feel about that?

TL: [They have] too much time and too little self-esteem!

t.i.m.e.: Stalker Management Norway - are they a real company or is that all part of the same joke? Did it exsist before your song was recorded?

TL: Stalker is a new company with many other artists and models. How else could I be promoted this much?

(with all the respect so clearly due to the lovely Tonje, Stalker's website kinda gives lie to this claim)

t.i.m.e.: Dating in the Dark - What was that like? Did you find true love?

TL: No, but someone found me! 

t.i.m.e.: Being on that show and then releasing the song in the same year. Does this mean you're actively trying to be famous? 

TL: I AM FAMOUS!!!!!!! 

t.i.m.e.: Do you think you'll never be a crappy housewife? Or could you be a crappy housewife for the right man? 

TL: If I'm ever a housewife, I'll be the best housewife ever. 

t.i.m.e.: As well as being a sudden internet sensation, we know you're a student now and that you're in your late twenties. So what else have you done since leaving school? 

TL: I've worked as a riding instructor. I love my horses!

So there you have it. Parody pop is what it is - and this is my england maintains the Tonje's debut effort is a very fine example of the genre. I look forward to the rumoured follow up single and to more from Holmestrand's most famous equestrian-cum-good-humoured pop diva.

beard/wanker interface

So begins the beginning of what I hope will be a fruitful exchange of linkywinky. That gal Emily has only gone and selected one of my pomes and then stuck it right on the face of Bearded Eloise. She went for "teenage wanker" and here it is. Do be sure to have a proper look around Emily's place.

thursday a.m.

excited by a bearded lady

Back in May, this is my england presented a meandering piece that covered:
  • how life was different before we were all 'always on', discussed by means of anecdotes about managing social lives and relationships prior to the age of ubiquitous mobile phone ownership
  • reasons for quitting Facebook
With reference to the second of these two points, I mentioned that a certain Emily had written very amusingly on the same theme.

Having browsed the rest of Emily's blog, I could see that she was someone who writes very well. The articles were generally very funny too. So I was disappointed when, only a few days later, she said that her blog was to be abandoned. She did, however, announce the launch of a new website, rejoicing in the name Bearded Eloise.

This site is now properly up and running. Its where Emily shares and develops her interest in "all things odd and kinky." She has already begun to keep it stocked with fresh new stuff in the areas of fiction, poetry, music, artwork, comics, reviews, interviews and personal pieces. Bearded Eloise admits to an interest in chaos magic, kink, the fetish scene, gender, sexuality and psychology. A hirsute lady* with an interesting mind, right?

Liking the sound of this, and encouraged by the first bits of content, I am pleased to announce that this is my england has been pursuing what looks to be a successful courtship of Bearded Eloise. The upshot of this is that fairly soon, you can expect to see some of my writing and photos being shared via Emily's site. I was very pleased indeed when Emily confirmed this.

I would encourage my little band of readers to have a look at the offer stuff on offer in the meantime.

That said, while I don't like to make assumptions, perhaps those of you who only look in here for thoughts on the past and future of Queens Park Rangers Football Club might not be  in the market for "odd and kinky" writing. Or maybe you are. Deep down. Don't worry. I won't tell anyone.
* PLEASE NOTE: Emily herself is not hirsute (bearded)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


yellow rose

oh, the yellow rose of texas
and the man from laramie
went to davy crockett's house
to have a cup of tea


Tuesday, 21 June 2011


one two: detention for you
three four: out on the floor
five six: none of your tricks
seven eight: NO DEBATE

Adel of a way to carry on

If empty vessels do make the most noise, then a certain Morocco-born attacking midfielder is a strong contender for the title of English football's emptiest vessel of the lot - and let's face it, there's plenty of competition. Gobshites and thoughtlessness abound in the beautiful (?) game in this country.

Adel Taarabt, born in North Africa but raised in the south of France, is really shooting his mouth off this week. Currently on the books of recently-promoted QPR, the team with which I've had a lifelong relationship that's been more troubled than ever lately, the most skillful player on show in last season's Championship campaign is doing his utmost to attract the attention of other, bigger London clubs.

I should find this galling. But I've long since given up the idea that many footballers feel even a tenth of the sense of loyalty to any given club that is the norm among supporters. The players have short careers in which to maximise their earning potential and achieve as much as they can. Serious injury could at any time snatch opportunities from a player and shorten the time in which he can accumulate cash. I get it. As a QPR fan, the case of Kevin Gallen is instructive for me. When Gallen was a youngster, the sense among Rangers supporters seemed to be that we had a great prospect on our books: a real hope for the future. He did go on to have a long, somewhat distinguished career in a hooped shirt (albeit with a gap spent at two Yorkshire clubs). He was a clever and industrious player. But his achievements fell a long way short of the hopes many had had for him. Probably most QPR followers would attribute this to the serious injury the player suffered early in the 1996-97 season, which wiped out all but two matches for him that campaign. When he did return to the team, Gallen struggled to establish himself as a first choice striker, losing out to a set of rivals that reads like a list of below-average forwards: Rob Steiner, Chris Kiwomya, Steve Slade and Mikkel Beck. Hence his departure for a period of exile in the north of England (though happily, Gallen was much better value when he returned to his beloved QPR for a second stint at the club).

So I have examples readily to hand when I try to understand why today's football professional is ready to jump ship for a bigger club and pay cheque. That said, given that these men can only earn such a good living because of the paying punters in the stands, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a bit of class from players contemplating, negotiating or completing a move from one club to another.

Sadly, if the quotes in recent articles are genuine, young Adel is not displaying much class at all.

Sure, he was an indisputably vital ingredient of the successful recipe cooked up by QPR manager Neil Warnock last season. You can't argue with 15 league goals, shed loads of assists and the great entertainment value offered by the Moroccan.

For me, he is, with no shadow of a doubt the single most entertaining player I've watched regularly playing for QPR. I am too young to have anything more than very fuzzy memories of the Stan Bowles era at Loftus Road and my family's move away from London in 1977 meant that I only attended QPR matches very sporadically from then until the early 1990s, when I really threw myself back into the life of a Superhoops supporter. This means that I can't claim to have enjoyed many of the great performances put in by the likes of Tony Currie or Simon Stainrod - and I only just caught the end of Roy Wegerle's time at the club. So for the entertainment factor at Loftus Road, Taarabt's my benchmark now. Even the regular scoring of Les Ferdinand, while wonderful to behold, does not really compare for me. That was about a very good centre forward doing his job extremely well - somehow less dazzling than what the Moroccan has to  offer, even when I factor in the fact that Ferdinand's achievements were in the top division.

Taarabt is all about tricks, flicks, truly improbable goals and dazzling dances around bemused markers. Great stuff. Class in abundance, then. With a ball at his feet, that is. But not when within spitting distance of a reporter's microphone or notebook, it seems.

So, Taarabt's lack of class when being quoted notwithstanding then, I should still be gutted at the prospect of his departure, right? Especially if there's any substance at all in the notion that Taarabt might end up at the club most QPR supporters love to hate, Mr. Abramovich's expensive plaything down in SW6.

Perhaps I would feel more worried by the prospect of losing the player or more disappointed by his conduct if I weren't approaching it with mixed feelings. But my feelings are mixed. Prodigious talent though he undeniably is, Taarabt comes with baggage. He washed up at QPR because he'd failed to fit in at Spurs. He then proceeded to overshadow the early glimpses of his skill with a frustrating unwillingness to pass the ball to a team mate in a more favourable position. We saw very visible signs of a fragile and fractious temperament, something that has also affected the player's relationship with his national team manager - I'm losing count of the number of times he's indicated he will never again wear the colours of Morocco.

Last season, Warnock pulled off a seemingly impossible trick. He got a team made up largely of seasoned hard-working pros to humour a highly-strung individual and to accept the nonsense of that individual wearing the captain's armband when he was clearly not among the true leaders on the pitch. With other players mopping up when Taarabt's buccaneering play resulted in losing the ball, it all worked out very well. Could that blend work in the Premier League, against better opposition? Let's see. Many would seem to think it's far from certain.

This brings us to the question of what QPR should do with Taarabt now.

If he can play anything like as effectively in the Premier League as his did in the Championship, I'd be inclined to think that top clubs from all over Europe will be prepared to enter a January bidding war that could see QPR enriched by a sum well in excess of the ten million quid being mentioned now as Taarabt's rumoured price tag. But if he can't cut it against quicker and cleverer defenders, and/or if his suspect temperament is exposed in the more widely observed window of the Premier League, his stock could plummet. Stick or twist? Keep or sell? Are any other clubs actually interested now? Or does the young Moroccan represent too great a risk even for the more adventurous prospective purchasers?

I don't and can't know the answers to any of these questions. When you watch Adel Taarabt on the pitch it often feels like anything can happen. Now, with the summertime action being played out among agents and in boardrooms rather than on the field of play, I have the same feeling. All bets are off. 

I just wish QPR's most exciting player for many years would grow up a bit and button his lip in the meantime.

the cable guy

We were moving house. Moving from a cramped flat near Murder Mile to a chunky little cottage in the suburbs. It was time to get disconnected from one place and connected to another.

The cable TV company instructed us to send their set top box to them. They said they would send someone to the flat. 

"Between ten a.m. and midday on Wednesday."
"That's no good. I'll be at work."
"Can anyone else be there?"
"My wife works full time too. We can't really take time off work just to return your equipment to you."
"We can send someone to your work address."

On the Tuesday evening I tried and failed to disconnect the box from the cable. It was like they were welded together. I tried the only suitably-sized spanner we had. It didn't work. Feeling like a bloody fool, I went to the flat downstairs and asked our neighbour for help.

"I'm crap at these things," I said.
"Don't worry," he said confidently. "I'm sure it'll be no problem."

He felt very masculine and capable as he said that. He couldn't do it either.

So I called the cable company to explain the problem. But at that time of night it wasn't possible to reach anyone who dealt with set top box collections. I learned this after more than ten minutes of moving between options on the automated customer service phone line. I learned that the relevant people would be available again at 9 a.m.

So, in the morning, I headed to work minus the box. I finally managed to reach somebody at the cable company about half an hour before their man was scheduled to turn up at my office. 

"I don't have the box with me," I told someone at the other end of the line. "I just can't get the nut loose where it connects to the cable."
"No, you should be able to turn that just with your fingers."
"I couldn't. I also tried a spanner. My neighbour tried my spanner and his own spanner. It won't come loose."
"That shouldn't happen."
"But it did. So what now?"
"We have a slot tomorrow between three and five p.m."
"I'll be at work."
"What about Thursday between two p.m and four p.m.?"
"I'll be at work. What about an evening?"
"They can't come out in the evening."
"I can't stay home in the daytime."
"You need to return the box, sir."
"I'll tell you what. I'll go home tonight and I'll try a fucking hammer."
"You can't talk to me like that."
"I'll talk to you later. I've got work to do. Just make sure your man doesn't come to my office. He'd be wasting his time."

Half an hour later, their man turned up. I had to have another long conversation.

I put the set top box out of my mind. We were moving on the Saturday. I had bigger things to deal with.

The flat was rapidly emptying. I watched our sofa being hoisted out of the front window and humped onto the van outside. Just behind it, a man was climbing out of a van marked with the cable company's logo. I went out to him.

"Hello. Are you here to collect your set top box?"
"No, mate. I'm upgrading a broadband connection."
"OK. Which address?"
"Right there. Number 51A."

His accent was South African. He was a tall bloke with longish blonde hair.

"Great. I'm in 51B. I'm moving out today. 51A is downstairs from me. You can take the box."
"I can't do that, mate. That's a different team."

I explained my troubles with the box. I was friendly. He agreed to take it. He was sure it would be fine.

Three weeks later, in our new suburban home, I got a call on my mobile. The cable company wanted the box back. I would have to pay them £250 if I didn't return it immediately.

"I've returned it."
"Not according to our records, sir."
"I've returned it. One of your people took it away."

I explained, in detail, what had happened.

"Very good, sir. I'll look into that."
"I consider the matter closed now. Thank you," I said.

A fortnight later I was out at a meeting. My mobile rang. It was the cable company. They wanted their box back.

"OK, listen," I began. "On Saturday 8th September I personally watched one of your employees put the box in his van. It was around midday. He was there to upgrade my downstairs neighbours' broadband connection. They live at number 51A. Their names are Mark Roscoe and Suzanne Campbell. They saw your employee taking the box. Your employee was a tall blonde guy with a South African accent. He assured me that he could take the box away and deal with it".
"Yes, sir. I see."
"So you are accusing me of stealing your box."
"We're not accusing you of stealing it, sir."
"You're saying I've failed to return your property. You're saying there's a piece of your company's property that either is in my possession or perhaps I've had in my possession and got rid of it. Either way, you're saying it's yours and I haven't given it back. So you're saying I stole it."
"Well, not exactly."
"So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to call the police."
"The police?"
"Yes, I'm going to report a theft. I'm going to explain I've been accused of theft by the cable company but that I have witnesses who can report that the real thief is an employee of the cable company with a South African accent and long, blonde hair who was seen taking the stolen goods at a precise time of day. I daresay if the police interview your HR people or look at your records they will identify the thief."
"OK, sir. What I'm going to do is just look into this again and call you back."
"Please do."

Ten minutes later I got a call.

"The matter is now closed, sir."
"Can I have that in writing?"
"Very good, sir."


subcontractors working for
subcontractors working for
subcontractors working for
subcontractors working for
subcontractors working for
subcontractors working for
subcontractors working for
the water company:

fixing something
right outside my house and
leaving bright blue spray paint
forever on the first tile
of my garden path
cutting a nick in it
fucking off
without a word

specialist tailor



We went to the park on a June day that was more like a day in April. Not that warm, and with showers on and off for hours. There's an Italian restaurant right in one corner of the park. It's an OK place. Nothing special. You can get ice creams or a coffee to takeaway. The kid wanted an ice cream. It was just starting to rain. So I asked the guy if we could have the ice cream and a couple of coffees inside. I'd just seen a young couple head in there before us, order coffees and sit down. A lunch party was winding up: a few friends finishing their desserts. It was getting towards 3 p.m. "We're closing," the guy said. "I can just sell you a coffee to takeaway." "It's raining. Why can't we just sit in here for ten minutes?" My wife told me leave it. "It doesn't matter," she said. So we took the stuff outside. It really started to pour out there. Proper rain: bouncing off the paths, puddling on the grass, reducing visibility. We huddled under one of the umbrellas covering the chairs and tables outside. I cursed that fucker in the restaurant as my wife told me to calm down and forget about it.


Monday, 20 June 2011

hatemongers hate EVERYTHING

If you're not a white supremacist neo-Nazi nutcase, you may not be familiar with a website that serves as a vast repository of online hate, paranoia, racism, anti-Semitism, Hitler-worship, crackpot conspiracy theories and so much more.

To stumble upon it by accident is to get a shocking glimpse into the minds of large numbers of very strange, poisonous people.

This can happen. If these guys have been discussing - in their fucked up terms - a topic of interest to you, a simple Google search can lead you to the forums of Stormfront, which since 1995 has been the most popular spot online for nutcases to share their bile and fear. There is so much content there that it's no wonder it can show up pretty prominently in some searches.

It's a particularly strange and unpleasant experience to have this happen when your search terms are about a fun and completely innocuous topic.

Regular readers will know that the fun and completely innocuous topic that has most piqued my interest in recent days is the music of Norwegian parody popster Tonje Langeteig. Having had the great thrill of a brief online chat with Tonje last night (yes, really), it's perhaps not surprising that I decided to have a little look online for fresh news of the platinum blonde chanteuse this evening.

What was surprising (horribly surprising) for me was having a search for news of Tonje lead me to a typically deranged exchange between the deluded whackos of Stormfront.

Tonje fans will be pleased to know that this particular discussion did not descend to the lowest levels of hateful vitriol for which the Stormfront forums are known. More hostile words are actually directed towards a Swedish singer, Lilla Lovis.

But it was still a shock to see these cretins taking time out of their usual discussions of a Zionist world conspiracy or whatever and turning their loathsome attention to poor Tonje, described by one moron as "a terrible example of a white woman."

Somewhere, it seems, there just has to be a fucking lunatic discussing in the most deranged terms even the most unlikely subject you can think of. It's that kind of world.

toys of texas

So, apropos of Texan writer Misti Rainwater-Lites (she just got another mention in this morning's Berlin piece), I just spotted that she's in the process of uploading some of her collection of grimy, sweet, plastic,  milky, mud-spattered closeup photos of the things around her in the Lone Star State. Some look to be as nature intended. Others seemed to have Photoshopped to fuck (in a good way). I like 'em. You might. They're on Flickr.

Ich bin ein Berliner

Berlin is up there on my list of favourite cities.

I first visited in 1986. The Wall was still up and the city was still divided. I got to make the crossing. It really was like jumping from one world to another. West Berlin, where I'd been staying for several days prior to having a look at the other side, glistened with neon signs. Its shops bulged with all the food and all the goods you might ever want. Big rock and pop acts from all over the world headed there to play in the Waldbühne, an open-air venue set among trees and apparently originally named after one of Hitler's buddies. The East was different - greyish, quieter and shockingly devoid of all the trappings of a market economy that a boy like me took for granted: no advertising anywhere, no sign of the consumer brands that were/are ubiquitous in the west. People were dressed differently. Many of them seemed to be in uniforms of one kind or another. Strange. I'm glad I got to peek behind the Iron Curtain while it was still hanging across Europe.

I was in Berlin with a schoolmate. His mother had run off with a German artist named Jochen, a native of the western half of the city. She had settled with said artist in his big apartment-cum-gallery. Jochen drove a battered orange Jeep. In this vehicle, we were ferried from the airport straight to the Waldbühne. It was a surprise: concert tickets to see two acts that my friend's mum believed we would enjoy. We were only told who the acts were when we were decanted from the Jeep and into the car park outside the venue: first Marillion and then the headline act, Queen. We didn't like either. My friend's mum had got his and his brother's tastes in music mixed up. My pal and I were into acts such as the Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Black Flag and the like. So it was weird watching a lot of Germans wave their cigarette lighters in the dark as Freddie Mercury strutted his stuff down on the stage below us.

The last time I visited Berlin, it had become the capital of the reunified Germany. I had a whale of a time among the costumed freaks at the Love Parade and in the dank dungeons of the legendary techno venue, the Tresor Club, which was at the time housed in the basement vaults of the former Wertheim department store.

Now I'm thinking of another trip, prompted to do so by the fact that an old friend has recently relocated there to get some writing done. This is M.P. Powers, the Chicago-born writer of some hard-bitten poesy and prose with whom it has been my pleasure to correspond for many years. I've also met Powers on a number of occasions. When I first found myself in Boynton Beach, Florida in 2003, I was astonished to discover that Powers was a resident of the very same town. I'd already known the man 'virtually' for around five years by then, knowing only that he was in the Sunshine State but having no idea of precisely where. I knew he'd been selling patio furniture, because I'd had cause to laugh my fucking head off at stories he told about that line of work. But that was it. So it was freaky, on heading to Boynton to meet my soon-to-be father-in-law for the first time, to realise that my man Powers was just up the road. Meeting in person for the first time was a blast - down at the Banana Boat Lounge & Restaurant.

Well, Powers is now at large in the German capital, looking to expand his oeuvre. He's had poetry put up all over the place on the web - a lot of the zines and journals linked to from this site have a bit of M.P. in them somewhere. He's also the co-author of the very good Enrique's Motor Lodge Room #22, having partnered up with the prolific Misti Rainwater-Lites. I'd definitely recommend buying that if you like your pomes and prose hard-bitten, dirty, magical and tough.

Anyway, having long been quiet on the blogging front, Powers is now visible again, having started to jot down his impressions of Berlin life on a new site. Apparently inspired by some odd experience of Misti's, Powers has been cruising the local Craigslist a bit, and has responded to a fellow writer's appeal for a little company - with, as they say, hilarious results.

Damn, I wanna see that creature M.P. in his new habitat. Berlin and Powers? Beautiful combination. Has to be worth the price of a hop over by Easyjet or German Wings...

Sunday, 19 June 2011


1976 is the first year of which I remember very much.

We lived at Park Flats, Hampstead Lane, London N6. Park Flats was a horseshoe-shaped structure that had once served as the stables for Kenwood House. It housed the families of men who worked for the Greater London Council Parks Department. Some were park keepers. Others were gardeners and the like. My dad helped to look after the nursery garden at Kenwood and did other jobs on Hampstead Heath. He got to drive a pale blue Land Rover, often pulling a trailer filled with fallen branches and other large items picked up in the never-ending work of keeping the heath in good order.

Sometimes I was taken up the hill to school in the Land Rover. It felt exciting and important. Most of my classmates were the sons and daughters of professional people: doctors, lawyers, politicians and the like. They lived in big houses with large gardens. But they didn't have the whole of Hampstead Heath just the other side of their fence, and they didn't get to travel in a huge, powder blue Land Rover. I suppose ours were the only council flats in what was then, and is now, one of the most expensive parts of London. The houses on Hampstead Lane seemed enormous. I would look at them from the Land Rover, from my dad's own car (a white Volkswagen Beetle, reg. MMY 350L) or from the 210 bus. 

London changes so much. If someone who'd died in the seventies were to come to life and see it now, there'd be so much they wouldn't recognise. But bus routes are strangely permanent. The more modern buses that run up that hill and into Highgate Village now still have the number 210 on the front.

In 1976 I was stung by a bee. In 1976 my favourite toy was a red Tonka cement mixer. It seemed huge to me.

In 1976, the yard outside our flats was my playground. There were only two other kids there: Michael and Sean. They were brothers but did not look alike. One was olive complexioned and dark haired. The other was pale, freckled and ginger. That only struck me as strange when I thought about it years later. We all ran around shooting each other with toy guns or sometimes just fingers. If you got shot you had to lie on the ground and count to twenty before springing back to life. Sometimes the shooter would just stand over the victim and shoot him again just as he reached the count of twenty and started to get up. That was cheating.

The yard had two giant concrete coal bunkers that hadn't held any coal for a long time. We used to hide in them and come out smeared with soot.

In 1976, we had a black and white TV set. If I was home sick from school, I would watch Crown Court with my mum. I thought about Crown Court out of the blue the other day and found a clip of the title sequence on YouTube. I felt tears coming to my eyes.

Once, I was sent to our room (I shared it with my brother) from the dinner table. I can't remember what I'd done wrong. We lived on the ground floor so I climbed out of the window, meaning to run away. Sykes the park keeper scooped me into his arms and delivered me to the front door.

In 1976 I broke my right arm. It happened on a Saturday evening and we had to wait a long time in the A&E department at the Whittington Hospital. The staff were dealing with all the people who had got glassed or otherwise injured in the tough pubs around Archway.

In 1976, my dad took me to my first ever football match at Loftus Road. We saw QPR beat Middlesbrough 4-2. I just have this sense of how overpowering it was: the noise, the number of people there and the physicality of the game. We were towards the front of the Ellerslie Road stand and I recall how huge the players looked. The only clear mental picture I have of that game is of a Rangers player going up in the air to win the ball. I couldn't believe such large men could jump so high. I couldn't believe how brave they were, risking smashing into each other and banging heads - the determination to win the header. When we got home, we were shouting and cheering as my mum opened the door. That was really the start of a long but sometimes difficult love affair with the club my dad had supported since childhood. I think it bothered him that his father had not lived to see his grandson shouting for the Rangers down at Loftus Road. I think sometimes it still does.

Then the summer came. Everyone still talks about that summer. Long, and impossibly hot. On our days out in the VW Beetle, we saw that green and pleasant England had been scorched to unfamiliar yellows and browns.

I remember my favourite t-shirt from 1976. Brent Cross Shopping Centre opened that year: the first US-style shopping mall in England. I got the t-shirt there, at a place where it was possible to have any design transfer printed onto any colour t-shirt. I had Captain America printed onto a shiny orange one. I don't have any photos of myself wearing it. But I've never forgotten it.

evening sun

I went out to buy pitta bread and hummus. It's packed lunch day tomorrow. He won't eat much else.

ind est

Get off the ind. est.
Get off the ind. est.

Yeah, yeah, industrial estate
Yeah, yeah, industrial estate
Yeah, yeah, industrial estate

(The Fall, Industrial Estate)

second best radio interview ever

Roz and Mocha of Toronto's Kiss 92.5 are a damn sight slicker broadcasters than the Scouse buffoon who fumbled his way through a poorly planned interview with the wonderful Tonje Langeteig a little while ago, as reported here at this is my england.

Speaking with the Candians, Tonje once again delightfully laughs off any attempts to tease or goad her. She's running with the epic gag crafted by her and her wacky pals from a small town in Norway. So I enjoyed listening...


.... what I didn't like was Roz putting Tonje on hold to inform his listeners that he didn't understand what she was saying. Very unprofessional, Roz. You're on my shit list now.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

it's a party

best radio interview ever

Guess which Scandinavian popstrel is laughing her head off while being interviewed by some dimwit Scouser?

no parking

breakfast of champions

glass of tomato juice (large, with Tabasco)
2 paracetamol
apply betamethasone valerate to elbows


"It’s like anything else artistic, it is (up for interpretation)," she said. "I have the highest degree of self-irony. I have laughed so much that I almost have incurred neck injury." 

Tonje Langeteig, speaking with Dagbladet, confirming my argument and making herself even more wonderful in my eyes: Blonde, horse-riding, singing Scandinavian chick with killer thighs and a firm grasp of postmodern textuality: WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?

(Props to Steve Tarlow for spotting this quote and for really getting the Langeteig phenomenon.)

Friday, 17 June 2011


plot thickens

A bit more Googling seems to reveal that the Norwegian pop act Tonje Langeteig I ranted on about a few hours ago does not always doll herself up as a chunky strumpet. Seeing her now, as a much more respectable-looking Dating in the Dark (Norwegian version) contestant who trains horses on her family's farm, I'm even more inclined to believe the whole 'I Don't Wanna Be a Crappy Housewife' bit is a piece of extreme spoofery. Norwegian humour. Very good.

When I made my recent allegation re: the while thing being a parody, I could not resist referring to Tonje's impressively solid thighs. That must be the Robert Crumb in me.To see those big Norwegian thighs really move, you need to see what appears to be the only video clip of 'Crappy Housewife' being performed live.

If you still don't think the act is a spoof, watch the dancers and ask how it could possibly not be.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

crappy housewife?


Reactions such as these greet anyone who meets all three of these criteria:
  1. has the very commonplace desire to be famous
  2. does actually get quite widely noticed by a large number of people
  3. has a quite spectacular lack of real talent
A recent example of a person who ticks all the above boxes is young Ms. Rebecca Black. It's probably safe to assume that most of the cool cats who visit this is my england are at least somewhat familiar with the case of the Californian teenager, so let's not go on about it too much here. To boil it right down: 13 year old kid's parents pay a vanity-release-record label to come up with a song for her. It sucks. Execrable lyrics. Shit tune. Fucking awful video. But. You know what? Not actually much worse than most of the ear-rape that passes for music these days. So the ensuing tirade of abuse unleashed at the singer (a child, remember) says more about the madness of crowds than it does about Ms. Black or the (presumably) pushy mom 'n' dad who paid to put the kid's head above the parapet.

Well, it could be that there's a happy ending for young Rebecca. Or at least a happy interlude. (Who knows about 'endings'? What does 'ending' mean when there's so much life ahead?) Assuming she is indeed someone who craves the delights of fame, she must be pleased to be featuring in a new promo video put out by songtress Katy Perry. Result. I guess.

Anyway. Today, via the Platform magazine, I got wind of an act whose debut tune was said to be hilariously worse than Rebecca's offering.

This comes from Norway. Enter Ms. Tonje Langeteig.

Tonje, an under-dressed platinum blonde lass with meaty thighs, belts out (in English) a truly weird song set to a Euro beat and featuring a rap breakdown performed by a buffoon apparently even less talented than the chanteuse, whose voice is pretty horrible. The premise of this offering is as follows: the singer fears the creeping advance of age and of becoming a "crappy housewife" (part of the title of the song). To avoid this reality she goes to a disco. In the song's video, said discotheque appears to be very thinly populated - perhaps because Tonje and her equally tarty pals rock up in broad daylight. The few people who are in there appear to be complete fucking bellends. The person responsible for the song's rap element looks a right fucking state in his mirror shades, baseball cap, dinner jacket and giant medallion. A friend of his is dressed almost identically badly.

A number of articles, the one at Platform included, weigh in to mock the quality of the tune, lyrics, production, video and general concept of this odd little piece. Examples:
Something I find interesting/surprising: none of the above articles (or any others I know of) raise the question of whether Tonje's debut tune is a spoof. I think it is. Why?
  • The song and the video are simply too bad to have been meant in earnest.
  • The 'I Don't Wanna Be a Crappy Housewife' lyric and underyling concept are clearly meant to be ludicrous.
  • Tonje and, and her agents at the suspiciously named Stalker Management Norway, both have an oddly minimal presence on Twitter. At the time of writing, Tonje has just six followers and has tweeted only once. The Stalker posse have a paltry three followers and have tweeted just twice. These guys are bloody poor agents if that's the extent of their social media campaign.
  • Stalker Management's website is so awful it MUST be a joke.
  • Said website reveales that the only two artister represented by the firm are Tonje and a guy who appears in her video (he's called Little T and he's the feller who just dances around behind the "rapper"). The photos of these two talents were clearly shot on the set of the only video associated with the firm (i.e. I Don't Wanna Be a Crappy Housewife).
  • The firm also purports to represent modeller. As with the, ahem, artists, Stalker Management has a stable of just two persons in this second category - both of whom appear in the Crappy Housewife video. One of them is a stringy, scary looking brunette. The other is a dude who looks like Michael Gove but with better teeth (that's not saying much, right?).
  • The dance moves throughout are surely a parody of shit European dancing.
  • The people in the video and stills all look to me as though they are smirking, don't you think? Like they can't quite hide the fact it's all a joke.
  • After I tweeted Tonje, (I said "Don't listen to the haters - your voice, lyrics and thighs are magnificent") I appear to have been blocked from following her on Twitter. A very suspicious response to such a friendly remark, I think. 
  • The Tonje Langeteig merchandise is solid pisstake material.
Weighing all of this up, I'm minded to think: SPOOF.

However, I guess there's a way of finding out. Stalker Management's website helpfully contains the contact information of one Jitse Buitnik ('Manager'), including his mobile number. I can't be arsed to ring up a Norwegian and ask if he's the brains behind a fairly elaborate wind-up. But if you fancy a go, well, knock yourself out - and let me know how you get on.

More celebrity goss later, guys!!!! You know that's what this is my england is all about, right???? LOL!!!