Posts from 6th June 2005

Jun 05

THE WALKER BROTHERS – “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”

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#211, 19th March 1966

“Make It Easy On Yourself” was a selfish sulk from a big little boy, but this gloom is regal, a woe so deep and indulgent that it stops time and blacks the heavens out. Scott’s producers learn how to do Spector properly and their vast velvet bass and piano sounds turn the Wall of Sound into an opulent, tear-soaked pillow. Scott himself gets lyrics which speak to his inner fatalist – “nothing to lose and no more to win” – and sings them with a great quiet tenderness as the storm breaks. The only bum note – redeemed anyhow by the way the chorus thunders in after – is the “Lonely, without you baby” bridge. Too personal, too specific, too small – to admit an object in this song is to lessen its soothing, solipsist power.

La Tomatina Festival, Bunol, Spain

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Rowland Rivron walks past in an Ealingly clean white suit. I point at him, “you’re going down Rivron.” “Not me” he pleads, “get Clarkson instead.”

But Jeremy is in a bad mood. He’s munching away on a piece of chicken (“donkey food”) and isn’t keen on the Spaniards (“lazy twats who sleep in the afternoon”). We make mental notes to hurt them.

La Tomatina is a tomato riot in a small Spanish town near the city of Valencia. It lasts for one hour for one day, every year in August. Its origins are blurry and its clean-up operation an endeavour of Forth Bridge proportions.

The day starts as all good days do, with a giant ham stuck atop a greasy pole. Local lads shin up, arse-over-tit down and eventually reach the ham. “Jamon Jamon” shouts the crowd, unwittingly marketing a tapas bar in Camden. This is the signal for part one of the pain to begin. Water hoses roar into the streets and drench everyone with powerful spray. T-shirts are removed, bunched up and thrown into a neighbour’s face. At noon, a klaxon sounds and a temporary truce is called. The lull before the storm.

You hear them first, heavy wheels trundling through the medieval streets. A cheer goes up and the tomato trucks roll into the central plazas to dump their loads. A free for all begins as the streets run with red juice and nowhere is a hiding place. It’s a fight for survival. Darwin with weapons of fruit. A mobile phone floats past in a knee-high stream of red floaty-bits. An Australian girl cries and a drunken couple snog and form a popular target.

A horn sounds after an hour. Hands are shaken, bruises compared and the town heads downhill to a row of communal showers. Clarkson walks past, still not reconciled to the Spanish way of life. “Fuckers” he mutters. The smell of tomatoes stains our nostrils forever more.

The rotting carcass of July June

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The clouds are out, the thermometer is down, the air is damp: what better time for a FESTIVAL? This month’s Blog 7 will be putting on a garish shirt and decamping to the country for a few weeks of messing about in tents and standing in the drizzle waiting for the fire dancers to start. Festivals around the world will be assessed and the month will end with our Glastonbury war stories.

Festival Of The Day – 6th June

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The Fairie Festival at Spoutswood Farm in Pennsylvania, May 2006

What is it? Not just for kids! Ten thousand people gather to celebrate the coming of the nature spirits, including a host of activities such as gnome and elf tours. Plenty of Irish music on offer (“the fairies’ favourite” we are told) and performers including Rick Mikula “the Butterfly Man”, Scottish Irish step dancers, and one somewhat lonely sounding funk rock band. Also ‘Magic Bob’.

Am I sold? Not especially. From the looks of the Gallery this is a grand day out for kids who like to dress up as fairies, i.e. 80% of six-year-old girls. There seemed to be a minimum of adults mooching around in jeans sneaking a crafty cig or two while the little ones enjoy Magic Bob, so I suspect participation is expected. Which reminds me uncomfortably of the Medieval Banquet I went to with work at Christmas, at which I had to wear a pinafore. Not something anyone needs to see again.

Festival Rating: ***

DIY Corner

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How to destroy the Earth. I knew that 2,500,000,000,000 tonnes of antimatter would come in handy one day.


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Live 8, Sail 8… this can only end one way:

Gobble My Chocolate Sausage

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That’s what a “top German chef” might have said.

I Walked With A Slitheen

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On Brighton Pier there is now a Doctor Who exhibition, which yr fearless reporter went to check out on Saturday. It’s down at the end of the pier, near the fairground and the (ace) Dolphin Derby, and costs £5 for an adult and £3 for a child. The punters are – surprise surprise – about 70% grown-ups, and the exhibit drew a healthy crowd of windy day passing trade, though there was a lot of room to move.

The long history of Who is dealt with sharpish, two doctors per panel and some monster costumes which appear if you press a button. No Monoids unfortunately, but an Ice Warrior, a Sea Devil (rub samurai outfit version), an 80s Cyberman and a McCoy beastie I didn’t look closely at. The Sea Devil, outfit aside, had stood the test of time (and space) well, the Cyberman however looked a bit weedy. Then it was on to the costumes for the new series, and a leather jacket and hoodie were invested with as much gravitas as the exhibition could muster. And then the meat of the matter – monsters.

The exhibition only goes up to halfway through the series – no ports in heads, no reapers (who were all CGI anyway), no gas mask children, no wolves of any stripe. More exhibits are promised but to be fair most of the slam-bang monsters showed up in the first half-dozen episodes so nobody would feel short-changed. The space pig looks great, the Slitheen not as tall as they’re meant to be, the Dalek swivels nicely and the assorted creatures and props from Platform One are all eye-catching, though Lady Cassandra looks a bit crap, as you’d expect from a model reconstruction of a digital effect. The whole thing is very noisy and very strobe-heavy.

Did any of these attract the most attention from the kids present? Not a bit of it. The iron law of museums is that the cheapest exhibit will get the most child attention, and so it is that a human shape with a sheet on it and a wind machine (“The Unquiet Dead”) got under-12 jaws dropping.

On the whole it’s not a bad exhibit, but unsurprisingly it feels half-finished, and the big airy spaces don’t help – hopefully they will fill it up more over the summer once the series has ended. The shop at the end is particularly spartan, as the BBC has been very slow with its merchandising for the new series (probably not realising it would be such a hit). Most of the stuff on offer is old stock from previous Doctors, including a sad-looking pile of Target novels. The show does its job fine, but doesn’t yet capture any of the magic of either series.