Posts from 4th February 2004

4
Feb 04

The Pork Pie Club

Pumpkin Publog1 comment • 1,873 views

The Pork Pie Club is an urgent and key reference for all of our readers! I mean it’s a shame they’re in YORKSHIRE but apart from that they’re a noble and marvellous tribute to the Art of the pork pie. Beautifully enough, the Pork Pie Club formed out of the lack of dedication from new Health Club attendees who liked to drink BEER and eat pies – in pubs.

The protocol of the meetings evolved over time. The meeting starts when everyone has their beer. News items of the week are discussed; this can be any topical issue and ranges from very local to international matters. After often heated arguments, with many different points of view put forward, between one and three items of news are selected and written up under the heading “Events of the Week”. This is followed by “Sporting Events of the Week”, again encompassing local, national and international events.

The serious business then begins:-

The pies are eaten in relative quiet. Comments that may influence others in the subsequent marking are frowned upon, but this isn’t a game of poker and many an expression may give away private thoughts. A more obvious clue as to how things are going is the condiments box, which contains a wide range of sauces, pickles and mustards. If no one reaches for any of them, the pie must be at least quite good.

Such beauty! Such simplicity! Nevertheless the fact they are from Yorkshire is evident in that they call a pork pie a “growler”. Surely this is made up nonsense the likes of which you’d never hear from a sensible Lancastrian.

Now to attempt the HOME MADE PORK PIE! Did you know they pour in the gelatine through the hole in the top of the pie?? Marvellous, dears!!

*hurrah for PIGS!

Sea of Souls

Do You SeePost a comment • 543 views

Sea of Souls billed as a supernatural drama with lovely Bill Paterson was not what I wanted. I feel guilty wasting blog real-estate explaining why it went wrong, why the establishing story failed to establish anything, including the main characters, that the supernatural element was entirely irrelevant to the plot, so I won’t (ho ho).

I do hanker for original british tele-fantasy, something of the intelligence of an Avengers, which is why I sat through 2 hours of something of the intelligence of Teletubbies. Teletubbies is great. For kids. They do things on screen which has the kids anticipating what happens next and they are pleased when they guess right. Hurrah. This is a simple trick when you are actually showing the same bit of video twice.

Sea of Souls was just a teensy bit more sophisticated. There’s a plot revolving around twins (one of whom is a bad ‘un) and many scenes are based on the ambiguity of which twin it actually is saying or doing something. So when only one twin survives the final conflagration, every viewer everywhere, ages 3 and up, is thinking WHICH TWIN SURVIVED, and, ages 12 and up, WHICH WOULD BE DRAMATICALLY MORE LIKELY? However, this never crosses the mind of the rest of the cast (OK it is made obvious that there is some complicity) so you get into that “shouting the obvious at the screen” state. Unsatisfying, unexciting. Teletubbies was more spooky. Really, those CGI things that grew out of nowhere! WTF!

“part of the collective swagger

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 319 views

“part of the collective swagger of a scene that’s on the up and brimming with confidence is having a name and using it”: on the other hand knowing something’s name = having power over it, including commercial power. A scene-name can be exploited by outsiders as easily as insiders. I saw £5.99 CDs in Tesco’s in 1995 promising me “hardcore jungle beats” (all 10 tracks by the same unknown bloke). The second “rock’n’roll” No.1 in this country was Kay Starr’s cash-in “Rock’n’Roll Waltz”. And so on. Fixing on a name has big financial implications in the way the industry treats the music, who gets paid and who doesn’t. (Anyway in the case of grime (or ‘grime’) the nameclashes seem to me part and parcel of the competitive, conflict-driven nature of the scene/sound.)

They’re all heroes of ours, ain’t they?

Do You SeePost a comment • 979 views

They’re all heroes of ours, ain’t they? Further to Mark’s post below, John will no doubt be amazed when he gets back to Blighty to find that his trusty old tactic, swearing on live TV, still works almost thirty years on.

Where’s Bill Grundy now that Ant and Dec are on point with their instant apologies? It’s a shame they’ve no sense of history past their Morecambe & Wise videos. How great would it have been if they’d have been all ‘Well keep going, chief. Keep going. Go on, you’ve got another ten seconds. Say something outrageous’ What a clever boy”?

LORD ROCKINGHAM’S XI – ‘Hoots Mon’

Popular7 comments • 5,382 views

#77, 28th November 1958

‘POP ROT! CALL A HALT NOW!’ screamed the Melody Maker on November 8th. Of course it was too late. It had probably been too late for years, but by June 1958 the game was absolutely up ‘ ITV launched its music show Oh Boy! and pop in Britain went multimedia. By the end of ’59 British teen stars, handsome boys whose take on rock was just as pretty, were hitting #1 regularly. Before them came Lord Rockingham.

Oh Boy! was not the start of British music TV. That was 6-5 Special on the BBC, launched in 1957 and off the air within six months of its rival’s first broadcast. Its remit took in skiffle and the Melody Maker-approved trad jazz, and the sole notable thing about its house band seems to be that Jon Pertwee played in it. But Oh Boy! focussed on the new pop thing and its house band were Lord Rockingham’s XI, a mixed-race, mixed-gender eleven-piece which included jazzman Benny Green on sax ‘ he wore shades on the show because he was embarrassed to be playing rock and roll. Which was perhaps a mistake, since if ‘Hoots Mon’ was anything to go his new band were white hot.

Let’s rewind three years to ‘Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White’, the last big band instrumental to top the charts and a useful point of comparison to ‘Hoots Mon’. That record kicks off with a thrilling horn line but then sidesteps into a polite dance workout. ‘Hoots Mon’ has a superficially similar structure. But what the newer record twigs is that you don’t have to stay polite ‘ you can keep raising the energy levels, thickening the mix, adding more and more elements until the record is jumping off the player. You also ‘ and it’s no surprise that a band of cynical jazzbos worked this one out ‘ don’t have to be sophisticated either. If your audience are going mad on the floor they don’t necessarily want complexity or suavity: they might just want to go madder.

The first 5 seconds of ‘Hoots Mon’ are gobsmackingly dumb and wonderful ‘ the horns blaring, the organ sounding like it’s been stabbed, the rest of the band setting up a kind of snarling hum like a gang of lairy Buddhists. And once the main riff’s got going all these things recur – plus handclaps, shout-outs and the ‘Hoots Mon!’ chant that gives the record its title-cum-gimmick. It’s proper musicians having a laugh who sound for a moment like cavemen having a go. It’s a calculated, compressed party. It’s a great record.

(In his 100 Un-Guilty Pleasures, which every Popular reader should enjoy, Marcello pegs the XI as the 6-5 Special band, not the Oh Boy! one. Every other source I’ve found suggests this is wrong, plus Oh Boy! fits my narrative better! But Marcello knows his historical stuff, and the same man ‘ Jack Good ‘ was behind both shows, so it may well be that some musicians went over to ITV with him. Not, sadly, Jon Pertwee.)

I was playing Peter Rabbit’s Race Game

TMFDPost a comment • 1,066 views

I was playing Peter Rabbit’s Race Game this evening! – another survivor from the weekend’s excavation of my parents’ soon-to-be old house*. Of course all race games are race games (Wikipedia claims a common ancestor in the “Game Of The Goose”!) but the differences between boardgames are more interesting than the similarities. With Peter Rabbit the separate but intertwined tracks are what creates its specific vibe: though each track has the same number of spaces players can find themselves adrift at far corners of the board, struggling through separate hazards and challenges, which shifts the locus of competition from player vs player to player vs dice. The fun was only slightly spoiled by my remembering how disgracefully easy Squirrel Nutkin’s path is compared to the other three. Peter’s on the other hand is viciously hard, perhaps reflecting ambiguity in Frederick Warne’s feelings for his carrot-munching cash cow.

*We long since lost the little figures, just as well as I had chewed Peter’s ears off when small and would not have liked to have faced my old crime now.