Posts from 12th December 2000

Dec 00


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 454 views

(Finally this gets finished. I would like to apologise on behalf of us all to women readers and especially to Emma and Kate. I should probably also apologise to Magnus given the perhaps undue emphasis on his drinking frailty, but tough luck.)

The Blue Posts, Rupert Street, Soho

IMPORTANT NOTE: Tim Hopkins is not sexist.

The Rupert Street Blue Posts is a favourite of this weblog for one major reason – it is a little-known and cosy boozer where one can generally find a seat. Throughout our odyssey it had been held up as an oasis of comfort after the privations of Berwick and Kingly street. Unfortunately we had neglected to factor in that it was nine o clock on a Saturday night and at such an hour even an invisible pub would be jammed.

Luckily for us it was jammed with people too foolish to even know what stairs were for so we got a table in the Posts’ spartan but relatively empty upstairs room. The jukebox was on. “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos trilled forth. Was this song, I wondered somewhat randomly, about anal intercourse? Others demurred – I was surely thinking of corn on the cob. Magnus was silent. Pete and I got the beers while the others held the table: when I got back I was confronted by Dave who demanded I write “world domination for anal fixation” in the notebook, and who was I to argue? The conversation remained constipated – was Kelloggs called so because it contained the word ‘logs’? Magnus offered no opinion in favour or against.

In desperation I wrested the subject onto a man I’d seen on Treasure who collected pylon numbers. To no avail – there was only one thing to say about such a man, viz. he is a nutter. The conversation was starting to fragment – “Ned’s Atomic Dustbin were better than the Wonder Stuff” opined Tim firmly, the man who only three pubs earlier had been keen to remind us of the white dog shit/brown dog shit law of rock criticism (“it’s all dog shit”). What was happening to us?

A sharp-eyed Pete noticed something on the wall. A poster! But not just any poster! A poster on which you could write your own jokes! What madness was this? Nobody had written any jokes on it – this must change. I tried to make my pen write straight as I wrote the following Hopkins favourite:

“My wife went on holiday to Poole.”
“In Dorset?”
“Yes, she’d recommend it to anyone!”

Returning to the table I found myself privileged to hear Tim tell his Greek joke (which is too long to give here but seemed very funny indeed at the time.). Chortling I headed for the jukebox with Pete, foolishly leaving my notebook behind. In the clutches of Magnus. When I got back I found a mysterious and illegible scrawl – robbed by drink of the power of speech, Magnus had found himself with no resort but to put his wisdom down on paper. What did it say? As far as I can tell, this:

“And cold […….] acridity was the flavour.

My wifes, you see, are going abroad. As if they didnt like our drinking.

So this is Christmas
And what have we […..]
Another year over
A new one just begun.”

Something was plainly afoot.

A new joke had appeared on the joke poster, put up by two backpackers. “Two parrots are sitting on a pirch. One says, What’s that fishy smell?”. As jokes go it was not awful, but the bizarre misspelling of perch threw us, particularly since the entire joke was based on it. Back at the table and Magnus was suffering – he could use some food, he said. NEVER! When on a pub crawl, eating is the worst possible form: this was generally accepted. But perhaps his second drink could be something a little…softer. Peter after all had switched to rum and coke. Dark rum, he was keen to point out. Dark rum, and man’s coke.

When a group of men get together, there will inevitably arise the thorny question of the opposite sex. When a group of men get together in several pubs, this question will most likely take its basest form and the result will be the social scourge of sexism. Now, we thank heaven are not yobs or boors: we were not going to discuss our sexual conquests or rate ‘birds’, certainly not. Our sexism took on a milder form, in the shape of a list of drinks, divided by gender. Some were women’s drinks: some were man’s drinks.

Man’s drinks included: Landlord bitter, Premium lager, and the aforementioned Dark Rum and Man’s Coke. But what of the women’s drinks? Light rum and diet caffeine free coke, obviously. Cooking lager. Wine. And the mysterious ‘Magnus juice’.

Our jukebox selection had come on, kicked off of course by “American Trilogy”, the VFM song of the 1970s, a good seven minutes of patriotic guff from the King. We – I am ashamed to say – sang along. Oh yes. All of us (except the still speechless Magnus). “Oh….I wisssssh…..I wuzzzzz… DIXEEEEE”. People were leaving. A charity collector braved the racket, bearing a striking resemblance to John’s ex, who for reasons obvious to those who know her can’t be named here. She was given short shrift, I’m afraid to say largely for this reason.

Elvis was followed by Slade. Pete held forth: “Merry Christmas Everybody” was the first ever single to go straight in at No.1. Surely a lie? No no, he couldn’t prove it but he knew in his heart it was true. (We checked the next day – it’s “Hound Dog” in 1959. Damn.). Meanwhile our raucousness was disturbing a young fellow trying to read at the next table. It seems an obvious question to ask, but really – who in heaven’s name reads books in a pub on a Saturday night? You are almost begging for some drunken pig to disturb you and ask what the book is. Which I, uh, did. The terror in his eyes was sobering. The book was the Australian issue of Granta.

Back to women. Could the Lie of Xerxes be used as a pick-up? We agreed generally that astrology was high on the list of turn-offs in a potential mate. As would be a liking for Radiohead’s Kid A. But, it was decreed, no women liked Kid A. Just imagine, though…just imagine what that groundbreaking record would have sounded like had it been made by women! Had it been made, in fact… FUZZBOX? We fell silent to contemplate the grandeur a ‘woman’s Kid A’ would no doubt possess.

Then, naturally, we started talking about the second Prodigy album instead. Dave had not seen the sleeve to Music For The Jilted Generation – what a golden opportunity to describe it! It turns out, though, that after several and divers drinks the inner sleeve of MFTJG is a very very difficult thing to accurately capture. There’s this rope bridge, right, and a chasm, and some police, and a load of crusties, and….hold on, there aren’t any chasms in England? What about the Cheddar Gorge? That doesn’t count, it’s not a proper one. Bollocks, it is. And so on. We settled on Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Crusties as the only adequate descriptor for this masterpiece of hippie nonsense art.

Never let it be said that the Pumpkin Publogs team is not concerned for its fellow drinkers wellbeing. But in our ragged state it took us a little while to notice that something was wrong with Magnus. Very wrong. In my notebook I wrote with concern, “MAGNUS IS SHITTED”. He was making odd noises. Pete tugged at my arm and sloshed his drink everywhere, but the beauty of the short is that you can spill it and lose almost no liquid. Meanwhile Magnus was in a bad way: the worst fate a drinker can possibly suffer had befallen him. He had the hiccups.

No cures for hiccups work. And yet everyone knows several and will tell them to you, happy in the knowledge you know them too and will hate your advisors within minutes. We were very eager to help Magnus in this fashion – drink backwards! swallow, don’t breathe! hold your breath! Finally he retreated to the toilets, the only places where a sufferer can have peace, at least until some bladder-wracked fellow pubgoer hammers on the door.

Upon his return (he missed a song by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who are a) awful and b) known by everyone in every pub despite selling few records) he had brought crisps. McCoys and Brannigans….but wait! Wait! Gone was the jolly fat butcher man from the Brannigan’s packet! Gone was the waxy papery texture! In its place was horrid McCoys foil and the Brannigan’s name written diagonally…just like McCoys! We all howled at the scandal of it: another victim, another staple of pubgoing life claimed by the merciless forces of the free market. This, I adjudged, was the Most Important Thing Of The Night.

Disgusted, we took our leave of the fourth Blue Posts and headed for the uncharted areas of St. James’. To Tim went the last word: “Guy Debord”, he wisely intoned, “Would have understood the urge to drink.”


I Hate Music5 comments • 2,805 views

5 JONA LEWIE – Stop The Cavalry

Jona Lewie looked like he’d been slapped every day of his miserable life. His hangdog face matched his awful flat voice and his awful voice was backed up with a casio your kid sister would turn up her nose at. Of course, the charts being the festering plague hole they are this did not stop him having hits. Well, two hits. His first was an autobiographical ditty, “You Will Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties”. Come now, Jona, that can’t be true! You’re having us on! Who after all would invite you to a party in the first place?

The second pop-bothering number concerns us here, though. “Stop The Cavalry” imagined itself a song with an epic sweep, a Chrismas-tinted “Universal Soldier” style track which would sum up the heartbreaking folly of WAR and the pain of soldiering through the ages. What better phrase to sum up these epic themes than the simple, yet so affecting, “stop the cavalry”.

The problem of course was that Jona had forgotten something – it is quite simple to stop cavalry, as the first person who turned a machine gun on them swiftly learned. Therefore as a metaphor for the impossible futility of resisting war Jona’s plea was frankly rubbish. Had Jona confined himself to singing in character, as a trench soldier, the problem might not have arisen quite as much, but with Paul McCartney and the whole of the Farm down there, the trenches were getting a bit crowded, so Jona expanded his timeline with vague references to centuries of fighting and a “nuclear fallout zone”. There aren’t going to be any horses in a nuclear fallout zone, now are there? It’s no wonder his lyrical imagination failed him for the chorus and he could muster only “dubba-dubba-dum-dum”.

What was Jona’s proposed solution to this eternal cavalry-centric onslaught? A simple one. Should he return from the war, he would “run for all presidencies” and, if elected, “stop the cavalry”. The simplicity! The genius! But can I be alone in detecting a flaw or two in Jona’s scheme? Even were running for all presidencies at once possible, it would be difficult to imagine a single-issue platform with less appeal out on the stump.

“So Mr. Lewie, what do you stand for?”
“Well, if elected I’ll stop the cavalry”
“What cavalry?”
The cavalry.”
“What? What about the tanks? What about stopping them? People don’t use cavalry any more, you fool!”
“Well, um, there’s the Horse Guards.”

(also don’t forget the requisite “boys boys boys plus obligatory sleater-kinney mention to prove that we’re ‘down with the chicks'” stance.)

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 456 views

(also don’t forget the requisite “boys boys boys plus obligatory sleater-kinney mention to prove that we’re ‘down with the chicks'” stance.)

THE ADVENT CALENDAR OF FILTH 4: WINGS – Wonderful Christmastime

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 873 views

4: WINGS – Wonderful Christmastime

The Beatles never made a Christmas single. Unless you include those fanclub flexi’s where John Lennon does his amusing John Lennon voice and tells jokes you would only allow a pop star to get away with. ie Rubbish ones. John Lennon was the self styled wit of the band, and like many office pranksters had a sense of humour as developed as Sierra Leone (that joke is for all you geographical economists out there – I know you like Paul McCartney). Odd then that as soon as the band split the songwriting powerhouses of the Moptopped Maladjusts went hell for leather into the Christmas market. I’ll get to Lennon’s – though rest assured it is as much hippy claptrap as you would expect.

But to Macca and his Wings (I can only assume he named his band after those handy pantyliner appendages). He states in this jolly sleigh-bell-along that he is simply having a wonderful Christmastime as if Christmastime is a real word. Plenty of other lyricists make this linguistic error it may be because the word Christmas really does not rhyme with anything. Wheras time rhymes with so many words that it even rhymes with rhyme which is about a rhymey as you can get.

Anyway, back to the McCartneys Christmastime, of which they are having a wonderful one of. Well of course he is having a wonderful fucking Christmastime. He had just bought much of Berkshire, had a happy family, was not married to some mad Japanese performance artist and in Mull Of Kintyre he had managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the entire single buying public. He was on an unnatural high, which is possibly why he wrote a song bereft of any good points whatsoever. You would have to be the happiest man in the world, or extremely high on drugs, to possibly enjoy Wonderful Christmastime. Its disingenuity is ingenious in scope.

Still its not as stupid as Merry Christmas (War Is Over).

You’llhave seen this already, probably

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You’llhave seen this already, probably, Pitchfork’s Top 20 of 2000. Top 20 what? Albums, obviously. Radiohead come top – sorry to spoil the surprise and all.

Actually the ‘head album is the one on this rundown which comes closest to making my own albums list*: I’ve warmed to Radiohead (“warmed” seems an odd word) a lot recently and might give Kid A another play or two yet. But the rest of Pitchfork’s list raises hackles, eyebrows, yawns, and a grudging sense of admiration that at least here is a ‘zine with a well-defined aesthetic. They like big albums that seem Important, which leads to predictable placings for GYBE and Sigur Ros (neither of whom I’m too down on though their epic stylings feel oddly irrelevant) but also to their rating the mercilessly awful and trite Grandaddy album.

I have to say, though, that their conviction that Clinic’s Internal Wrangler is a bold new rock direction and not a disappointing tinny shrug is endearing: boys, boys, get the (superb) Clinic singles compilation from ’99, which is cheaper and so much sparkier.

*which you’re not going to see here, but e-mail me if you’re really that interested.

CINDERELLA – “don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”

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CINDERELLA – “don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”

an argument that performance>composition:

this near-midler piano ballad perverted by tom keifer’s wounded-beast rasp. purring and whining sympathetically he leaves the impression of the lost uncivilized outsider.

jeff labar tries elegantly to understand.

CB Savage

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CB Savage, courtesy of Starry, who recommended it highly in the pub and was most certainly right to. Listen and wonder.