Posts from 1st July 2004

Jul 04


TMFDPost a comment • 217 views

HELLAS! There may have been eight million people dancing in Athens when Greece beat France, but on Telendos I’m guessing a few extra cocktails were the limit of festivities. The island has half a dozen tavernas, two or three of which boast TVs. Walking around the night we arrived, just before the Greece V Spain game, you’d never have guessed anything was happening. But when we took a seat and asked if it was OK to watch the football, things changed a little.

We’d visited the island before, in 2000 – it was busier then, not much busier but on an island this small you notice ten extra people. No businesses had gone bust but a couple of new developments stood unfinished and forlorn down the beach end of Telendos, near the lonely cocktail bar, On The Rocks. Built for a younger crowd who never appeared, On The Rocks did brisk trade with one-day visitors but the people who stay on Telendos are mostly fiftysomething-or-older and are into relaxation, not glitz. They have a hearty appetite and enjoy the hospitality that comes from repeat visits and the taverna owners knowing your name.

The Greeks are a hospitable people but in such a small island economy that hospitality can become something uncomfortably close to deference. Iannis, who owned the place where we watched the Euro games, was a naturally friendly man and clearly loved football, but the evening’s customers came first: even if Greece was playing, they would have the best views and there would be no dawdling to watch the game. “Dawdle away!” I felt like saying. Once I realised there would be no crowd atmosphere or much overt passion I quickly got used to the particular flavour of watching football on Telendos.

It was supremely relaxing: almost too relaxing sometimes. On the day of the England-Croatia game I felt no tension, no internal build-up at all – when Croatia scored I just shrugged and kept on sipping the outrageously syrupy cocktails Iannis made. Things would come good – and if they didn’t, no bother: not an attitude I can imagine holding up in the frenzy back home.

The England games drew the biggest crowd and were the least satisfying to watch – it had never really sunk in before how much and easily some older England fans drift into congenital grumbling. At 3-1 and 4-2 up against Croatia, the team playing clearly dynamic football, these fans would slumber in an unsmiling Retsina haze until one missed pass woke their inner grouch.

And Greece? They were fortunate against Spain and apalling against Russia – Iannis gave a contemptuous shrug as the second Russian goal went in and headed for the kitchen, and that was all we saw of him until he came out smiling at the end. But there was a sense of growing excitement (tempered with a bit of fatalism – after all, they couldn’t beat France, right?) in the island Greeks – more smiles, more tiny rabbit air-punching, more impromptu conversations about the tournament. Always fighting their desire to be the perfect, polite host – not that the impulses should have been opposed in the first place. I hope Iannis and the others can let go a bit more tonight – I’ll be thinking of them as I cheer Greece on.

Drinking Makes Bones Denser

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 260 views

Drinking Makes Bones Denser: this explains why Pete weighs fifteen stone.

The gaiety of the nation

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 1,006 views

The gaiety of the nation: “adds to the gaiety of the nation” is one of my favourite little phrases. I like it because it makes, quite succinctly, the case for frippery. I was about to invoke it in that notorious talking-shop the k-punk comments box (vis a vis King Arthur On Ice, as it happens) but instead decided to sniff about and find out where it actually comes from. NO DICE! But the phrase has a perky little life outside its nook in my mind, from the Daily Mirror to the Daily Telegraph. Here are a few of the things that have increased TGOTN:

– the Scottish Arts Council
– Barbara Cartland
– Jazz
– tiny political parties
– the Monarchy (is this what the phrase was coined for?)
– Murray Lachlan Young! (according to Auberon Waugh!!) (somewhere else claimed Waugh coined the phrase – surely not?)
– incidentally Murray Lachlan Young was at Glastonbury, it was in avoiding him that I encountered yesterday’s juggler.
– Sebastian Coe’s affairs
– the Incredible String Band
– four British women getting into the second round of Wimbledon
– Bono
– Posh and Becks (this was the Mirror citation)
– Tara Palmer Tompkinson
– the National Lottery
– the Irish credit unions (Ireland’s gaiety surely at a severe low if this is the case)
– Frankie Howerd (“by making his top hat waggle”)
– Rod Stewart’s love life
– King Crimson

This quick survey suggested that the nation is easily pleased. But then so am I.


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 417 views


There is something admirable about Mike Skinner from The Streets. It has been suggested that he is one of my recruits, sent undercover into the garage/hip-hop and whatever other name British dance music is being called these days scenes. And I can understand this attitude, it could be that with his tremendously unmusical TALKING he may be trying to destroy music from within.

Mark this friends: I would never wish this on anyone. Not even someone as lumpen as inarticulate as Mike Skinner. The torture actual musicians have to put up with on a day to day basis is deserved because they are musicians. There can be no excuse to deliberately forcing a music hater into listening. But luckily Mike Skinner is a musician so he deserves all the torture he gets. And having stumbled across this rock opera of his I can say the torture is well deserved. As would be hanging, drawing and quartering.

I remember in the bad old days when Rock Operas were about the War Of The Worlds, or a messianic cult based on a sensorily deprived pinball player. As bobbins as they were they at least showed some imagination. Why in The Wall, Pink Floyd went so far as to build a wall between themselves and the audience: a fantastic idea, let down by a lack of decent soundproofing. But has it come to this, that these days our concept albums are so low concept they are about a bloke losing a thousand pounds down the back of his television.

Question: Have you ever lost anything down the back of a television? They seem pretty well sealed up to me.

So Skinner spits out his half rhymes in his dullards accent as the listener is driven mad with tedium. YAWN – as Mike tells us how he did not lose any money in the bookies because he did not go to the bookies. STRETCH – as Mike recounts another tale of not going out with his mates and sitting in watching the TV instead. FALL ASLEEP IN FITS OF DESPAIR – As Mike tells us about not pulling someone whilst on holiday. He truly is the most boring man in Britain. And as for Dry Your Eyes…

The “story” behind Dry Your Eyes is that Mike is getting dumped. No fucking shit. Speaking as a girl, I can tell you that if my blokes idea of a good night out was sitting at home roaching a spliff and watching ITV programmes about how to pull he would be out of the door in ten seconds flat. If it turned out he was an inept Brummie rapper at the same time he certainly would be drying his eyes. Of all the blood that would be pouring out of the gouged sockets.

The sad thing is that this catalogue of the ordinary displays that The Streets are aware how piss poor they are. Why else would you peddle a song about how rubbish you are at even returning a DVD, getting money and phoning someone. It is quite clear what Mike Skinners problem is. He is shit, but my gosh, don’t he just know it.