Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back on the Rock and Roll

Hi folks, I’ve been in a lousy mood because my boss has told me he won’t be renewing my contract when it expires in the New Year. Here (A) is what he actually said, (B) what he may have thinking, (C) what I was expecting to hear, and (D) the nightmare scenario:

(A) I want to thank you for your contribution over the last year and a half but I feel your skills are rather too narrowly academic for any future projects at this company and that we require people who are better suited to general computer work. I wish you all the best in finding another job.
(B) I have other employees who are younger (can’t argue with that, I’m the oldest git in the office by a long chalk), quicker (well of course they’re quicker at computing than I am, their minds are not burdened by the massive sense of fun and absurdity under which I‘ve been forced to labour every day of my miserable benighted life), and I pay them less (probably the clincher).
(C) Gadjo, this has been the most wonderful time of my entire life and though I have other employees they’re just children, they don’t know life like you and I do, they’re holding you back and (tears start to well up in his eyes) some times when you love somebody (totally losing control of his emotions now) you have to let them go.... fly, Gadjo, fly!!!
(D) Alright, Dilo, enough’s enough. I know you’ve tried but frankly you’re an over-educated twit, a fop and a smurf, and if I ever catch sight of your silly grinning face again – you think you’re funny but you’re not – I’ll personally see to it that you’re kicked out of this goddam khazi of a country for once and for all!!

Well, then of course the self-recriminations start: what if I hadn’t been late for that meeting, what if X hadn’t overheard me saying what I said to Y, what if I hadn’t pressed myself up against Z in the lift that time. But the boss is a very fair man, and I did try my best. It’s a f**king miserable feeling but I’ll not starve; I’m a tryer if nothing else, I can survive on very little, and I’ve worked long enough and been fortuitous enough to build up some financial security for myself and Mrs Dilo.

To herald my return to the dole office – assuming I was eligible to receive the 50p a week that would get handed out to me at the Romanian equivalent, which I don’t think I am - here’s a song from Half Man Half Biscuit’s LP Back in the DHSS:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jazz Is Totally Up Itself

I’ve been compelled to write a post with this title as a consequence of my previous post in which I slandered another perfectly respectable music genre. However, such is my new-found cantankerousness and intolerance that I find myself able to fulfil this task as well.

I am going to present my argument solely in terms of Trumpet Playing and Anal Retention. Have a listen to the first part of Louis Armstrong’s West End Blues:

Over and over I tried to play that intro on my trumpet, then the tune, slow and melancholic (here’s a later, brassier version, which is also good) yet it flickers with the humanity that Armstrong could rarely keep to himself. Unfortunately I can find no clip of the only track to which I’ve ever attempted to do a striptease: Armstrong’s early recording of Tin Roof Blues (Tiger Rag and it would have all been over in a flash....) Satchmo kept himself ticking with a bit of marijuana and the help of Swiss Kriss, a laxative of which he was such a fan that he once recommended it to Britain’s Royal Family, and I admire him as a man who kept his embouchure clenched and his bowels open.

Now, there were other trumpeters with nice styles (and some modern players of other jazz instruments that I like). But somewhere it goes wrong, it all becomes a bit, well, Jazz Club. And I reckon the cause is Mr Miles Davis. He’s probably a genius, enough people have told me that he is, so I’m probably a philistine, I’m probably missing out. But for me the most accurate word I’ve ever heard applied to him is “costive” – I just want to shake him.... shake him and shout “Wake up, you dozy bastard!! Wake up and go to the lavatory!!!!”.

Fortunately, however, all is not lost. Musicians from other genres have been inspired by jazz and incorporated it into their shtick. Here are my favourite Russians, Markscheider Kunst, whose trumpeter I reckon listened to more Louis than Miles; have a listen to the intro in the 1st one, before the band gets into its lovely Latino-Leningrad stride, then look at the 2nd one if you wanna see them in a proper video. Now, this is obviously just my personal preference, but to me that’s Nice!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gadjo’s Heavy Half-Hour

(DISCLAIMER: Gadjo would like to state that many of his best friends are Greeboes, that he appreciates the valuable contribution they make in terms of IT support services, and that none of what he's about to say applies to them personally)

It seems Mr Lemmy Of Motörhead (2:48 into this classic comedy clip):

was the star of the previous post; everybody’s interested in him, and (in the John Lennon sense) he may very well now be “bigger than Jesus" (though his trademark habit of setting his mike higher than his gob - see right - tends to make him look smaller). Anyhow, this doesn’t stop me thinking that Heavy Metal is all just, well, A Little Bit Silly*, and for reasons I still don’t fully understand I feel required to issue this Ten Point Plan to deal with it.

#1 Identification
Metal fans often try to avoid persecution by subdividing themselves into smaller groups so they’re more difficult to catch: “Thrash Metal”, “Death Metal” and “Doom Metal” are examples. However, one thing unites them all: they all wear black t-shirts with Poland tour dates printed on the back.

#2 Divide and Rule
Disillusion may be generated by inventing some more Metal subdivisions which are rubbish: (A) Deaf Metal, like Death Metal but you can’t hear the lyrics; (B) Thresh Metal, like Thrash Metal but more agriculturally orientated - basically embittered folk singers with a crate of Jack Daniels; and (C) Green Metal, like Black Metal but instead of Satan they’ll sing the praises of The Universal Earth Mother.

#3 Systemization
In case they grow wise to our strategies in #1 and #2 we’ll require them to wear at all times a lovely, colourful, Paisley blouse.

#4 Acne Tax
This speaks for itself, but as with any fiscal policy it must be set out clearly and fairly. To this end a complicated algorithm has been devised which calculates the surface area, pustulance and predicted vulco-acnic activity.

#5 Unsubtle Make-Up Tax
Mainly just for Kiss fans. (Covering up acne with makeup turns you into a Goth, which is a whole other post entirely.)

#6 The Heavy Metal Lyrics Entailment Law
All Gadjo’s heroes walked the walk: Jagger spent the night together with many people, and Hendrix really kissed the sky. Metallers must now accept the implications of their own grandiose statements. For example, Iron Maiden’s Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter..... does the band’s singer have any female progeny? He does?? Great! “Get your coat on, poppet, your mother and I (gulp) have got to take you somewhere today”.

#7 Free Shampoo
Ok, I’m sure Headbangers wash their hair as much as anybody else, but this shampoo is different - it makes your hair fall out. Headbanging’s no fun without half a yard of Laboratoires Garnier-ed wedge to wave about! Admittedly this policy creates a lot of angry teenage skinheads, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

#8 A Moratorium on Death
Metallers name their bands after things that kill you and love to play with images of death, helping them feel “grounded”. To wean them off this I’m devising an elixir of life (still only in the ideas stage, admittedly) which’ll mean nobody’ll die, just for a while at least, and death will no longer be interesting - think on!

#9 Resettlement Policy
Metal fans love the darkness, where they can incubate their inverted ideas of happiness. Many are quite sedentary and may spend all their time in one place - e.g. Knebworth or Germany - where over the course of any calendar year they enjoy 50% of their time under the cloak of night. To stop this we’ll establish resettlement camps in Greenland and Tierra del Fuego: April-September in the former, October-March in the latter.

#10 Parody
When I think about it Metallers do have redeeming features, foremost being their good-natured acceptance of having the (Metal) Mickey taken out of them. Here’s Bad News:

So, there’s the plan for the brave new metal-free world. Are you thinking that it seems a bit, like, unnecessary? A bit over-the-top? A little heavy, perhaps?? Yes folks, it is! It’s treating like with like, akin to a homeopathic remedy. Rock on!

* Don’t fret, Metal fans, by way of balance there’ll be forthcoming posts entitled “Classical Music is for Poofs”, “Jazz is Totally Up Itself” and “There’s Nowt as Queer as Folk”.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fantasy Island Discs #1

Here's a completely arbitary list of records I’d like to be made. As on Desert Island Discs there are eight of them; the one I’d want with me if all the rest where washed away would be the one that I want to like but never actually listen to, and the book that I’d want with me apart from the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare’s Sister (... is that still a stipulation??) would be Harry Potter and the Witch-Finder General.

#1: The Dark Side of Keith Moon by Pink Floyd (with The Stockhausen Sinfonietta): The sound of television sets smashing on pavements, occasional tables being thrown against walls and baseball bats hitting Corby trouser presses.

#2: Smells Like Methylated Spirit by Nirvana: I’m not condoning imbibing meths, but if poor old Kurt Cobain had chosen this as his tipple instead of the smack then I wonder if, rather than dead, he might simply be blind, mad, and with an extremely unpleasant taste in his mouth.

#3: Glaswegian Rhapsody by Queen: “I see a little silhouetto of a man”… “You lookin’ at me?”… “Scaramouche,scaramouche will you do the fandango?”… “Sassanach, eh??”… “Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening meeee!!”… “Aye, sonny, and this is only me second-best Stanley knife!

#4: The Three of Clubs by Motörhead: In which Lemmy owns up that, despite having slept with 1,200 women and being covered in warts, when playing cards he can’t always guarantee to have the ace of spades in his hand. On the B-side he apologises for being a Nazi fetishist f**kwit and for using diacritics inappropriately.

#5: Live at Strangeways by Morrisey: Johnny Cash made a record called Live At Folsom Prison, which apparently is a classic of the genre, and The Smiths released an album called Strangeways, Here We Come. If Mozza was any sort of man he’d follow through on this and perform to the Scallies there; and, considering that his fanbase is the most astonishingly diverse of any singer ever, he’d probably do alright.

#6: Heartbreak Motel by Elvis: Like Heartbreak Hotel but it’s a bit cheaper and more convenient when parking your car. It’s never easy to get over heartbreak, but this time it’s lighter on your wallet and you can move on more quickly.

#7: Music to Watch Girls Buy by Andy Williams: Guys, ever been clothes shopping with your Significant Other? Ghastly, wasn’t it. Didn’t you wish there’d at least been a soundtrack to it? This follow up song by Mr Williams is a medley: You Wear it Well (so why don’t we just get buy it and get this over with), You've Lost that Loving Feeling, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place and Girlfriend in a Coma.

#8: Great Balls of Fur by Jerry Lee Lewis: He played the piano with his feet and with his arse and then married his 13-year-old first cousin; I reckon it would’ve been a great finale to his act if he’d then coughed up a couple of large fur-balls.

To end, of course, here's the Desert Island Discs theme tune By The Sleepy Lagoon by Eric Coates. So make yourself a mug of Horlicks, stoke the fire up, put a blanket over your lap and forget that New Labour, the X-Factor, Jade Goody, the 60s, etc ever happened. Nighty night!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lookalikes #2

I attempted a kind of homage to Gyppo in the previous post, and now it must be No Good Boyo's turn.


I was dragged up to a Nissen hut in the north of Wales every Easter as it was the only landscape bleak enough to accord with my father’s world-view and thereby help him feel comfortable within himself. An Ivor The Engine train ride from there is wonderful Port Merion, the “Village” from The Prisoner; and I was once further down the coast but remember nothing but jellyfish... big, red, flabby, embarrassing jellyfish, like a thousand Ron Davieses after an all-night “paddling” session. Over to the East we have the lachrymose beauty of The Llangollen_Canal but also places like Wrexham, Flint and Mold, which don’t really sound as Welsh as they should, maybe they're a bit traumatised by this. The middle, if my Counties of Britain jigsaw puzzle was correct, is Radnor and Merionethshire, which I've always imaged as R. S. Thomas country, in other words as miserable as f**k, though I’ll be happy to be wrong. But Down South are some splendid boyos and an ex-girlfriend whom I shall call Morfudd. I met her on the Internet and when I arrived for a first date found out she was really quite deformed - what’s the PC expression for this, guys? - poor lass; but that didn’t put me off at all; no; I’m like that. What did put me off however was her mother, who was a a witch: not the pointy-hatted, mixing-up-herbs type from Bangor University’s Department of Celtic Dawn Studies and Shamanism, but yer actual witch, a female nasty-piece-of-work. The fact that Morf was utterly devoted to her despite the constant put-downs made me eventually make my excuses and leave*. Moving on, we have the gorgeous Ystradfellte waterfalls, the deep sandy beaches at Rhossilli, the actually-quite-pleasant seaside destinations of Tenby and Manorbier and the invigorating Pembrokeshire coastline.

Siân Lloyd’s Face

The face of TV Weathergirl Siân Lloyd covers an area 0.000000003645847 the size of Wales, which is a fascinating statistic but not of immediate relevance here. What drew me to realise the similarity was the disproportion: Siân’s face is much bigger at the bottom that at the top, more fulsome, more generous, more sensual around the mouth and jowl region than around the forehead and crown. Down below we have a half of a face ready to enjoy life, to smile, to laugh, to eat and drink, and - oh yes - to kiss and to tell. Up top we have a more shrunken physiognomy, a personality meanly crouched inside a cranium that’s already too small for it. The mid region is represented by the eyes, supposedly the window to the soul: as we look at her, the left looks nice, bright, welcoming, but the right looks sad and, frankly, traumatised, half a seaweed short of a laverbread. The middle, the nose, is where LLoyd's ex Lembit Öpik is MP, and though I warm to him as an East European and an eccentric, he’s clearly been sticking his nose in where it’s not wanted, e.g. into the private affairs of asteroids and into Cluj’s own Gabriela Irimia, and he’s also reputedly as tight as a gnat’s chuff. Lloyd, Wales’s Marianne, deserves better, as does any country that looks a bit like her.

So there you go, that was my own Welsh Letter - like a French letter but made not from rubber but from the outermost “sheath” of a leek.... and not one of them thin spindly ones, innit - and I hope you enjoyed it. Further information, tourist brochures, Bara brith, etc can be had at the good offices of No Good Boyo, and while he’s dragging the judge, jury and punishment squad out of the Ffwrch & Fferkin in response to this (and to serve on me the martyrdom I’ve always craved) I shall bid you iechyd da!

*Also, her mother, though of retirement age, had a boyfriend who was young enough to be her son. Live and let live. Then I met other couples there with a similar reverse-May-September thing going on – nothing wrong with that, but it was the only community I’ve ever been in where this seemed to be the norm.