I wish football journalists and commentators would stop talking about strikers “dropping down the pecking order” at their clubs. This dreadfully scratchy expression appears at least 46 times a day on the BBC’s football website.
I believe it is reckless and irresponsible, as Europe struggles to contain the threat of bird flu.
PLONKED DOWN IN MAIDA VALE – I had one small glass of BBC white wine last night. I am still feeling the after effects. I think they must make it by getting hold of a loads of toxins, probably scraped from underneath the mixing desks, and fermenting them. The first ill effect was to dry out my normally Sherilyn Fenn-like mouth and throat. Then it gave me a stinking headache. Finally, it caused me to pay a visit to the lavatory.
I offer this information not in a spirit of ingratitude, but as an hommage to the Golden Age of BBC Canteen Jokes, hopefully soon to be released as a 26-DVD box set.
Real Bet’n Balompie
More top comedy from Spain:
Can’t they resurrect Greavsie’s Gaff to get these people in for an interview? I hereby volunteer to do interpreting duties.
The other day I went to a gallery and it was the National Gallery and it had pictures and they were dead good and there was a horsey.
It’s hard to watch half an hour of film title sequences without the films. It’s like foreplay without fucking, over and over again. Still, you take what you can get. This Saul Bass exhibition is well worth the effort. The denial and frustration only serve to heighten the pleasure by focussing the mind monastically on the matter in hand. Bass was the graphic designer behind the iconography of films like The Man With the Golden Arm and Vertigo. He did posters and title sequences and he never put a foot wrong. This wonderful exhibition allows us a peep at the creative process by gathering preliminary sketches and tests, as well as letting us bask in the glory of the finished products. His title sequences draw you into the story before it’s even begun. It’s like the film has a one-goal start.
Letters, press packs, photos and other artefacts illustrate the process from start to finish, making us wonder how film marketing got so hectoring and vulgar. Having said that, a Burger King Psycho Special is an enticing prospect, as is a MacDonald’s Bunny Lake Is Missing Happy Meal.
Also featured is Bass’s work on corporate identities and packaging. This is less immediately appealing, but does contain my favourite piece, a kind of proto-psychedelia meets Mr Magoo horseradish package which accentuates the presence of the word ‘horse’.
Bass moved on to make his own films, which are also seen here. A row of small screens allows the visitor to get a taste of them, but unavoidable practical difficulties mean you’ll have to get hold of them yourself if you want to actually hear the soundtracks and get the full-on experience.
The last room is devoted to the later work Bass did with his wife Elaine, much of it for Martin Scorsese, like the beautiful lace and roses of The Age of Innocence. Scorsese has supplied a kind of afterword which is well worth reading on the way out. In fact I think the style of this review might have been heavily influenced by it.
It’s appropriate that an exhibition devoted to an aspect of consumerism should have the effect of making you want to take everything home. Along with Mr Scorsese, I can’t recommend this exhibition highly enough.
Red Kite Farms Ltd have come up with Organic Slumber Bedtime Milk. Described as, ‘whole-milk, ORGANICALLY produced at night on our farm in the Chiltern Hills which may help to promote revitalising sleep.’ Apparently it’s chock-full of MELATONIN, which ‘regulates our body clock and triggers our desire to sleep.’ I don’t think desire is the problem, but still. As a part-time but keen insomniac I was blinded to the fact that Slumber Bedtime Milk costs about six times the price of normal milk and hurried home to guzzle a pint and catch some zeds. It seemed to go well. It’s a nice bottle and it tastes great. I started to drop off, cherishing visions of a frilly-gowned milkmaid gently massaging the heaving udders of a contented cow under the stars. I was nearly gone when it occurred to me that this would be a good opportunity to make my long-awaited* debut on Pumpkin Publog. Slowly but surely the milkmaid took on the shape of Starry Sarah and the cow started turning, pixel by pixel, into Tim H’ Well, so much for a good night’s sleep.
The fact that Slumber Bedtime Milk is produced at night reminded me of the time my dear old dad started railing against the thoughtlessness of the local farmer because he could hear the milking machine buzzing away across the fields at about eleven at night. So one man’s melatonin-induced sleep is another man’s metallic teat-clanking night of gathering psychosis. Think on, Red Kite Farms, think on.
* long-awaited by me. I was so tired I forgot about Voll-Damm.
Visitors to Barcelona often find that the works of Mr Gaud’ are overshadowed, nay, pummelled into submission by the pleasures of Voll-Damm, the super-strong local lager whose premises loom into view as soon as the airport bus begins its slow trundle cityward. Well, the Voll-Damm bottle has undergone a remarkable transformation. No longer content to simply house the brew in gothic splendour, the label now features the history of the beer! It now transpires that we are enjoying a M’rzenbier, first brewed in Bavaria, the home of oompah-pah. The amount of malt was DOUBLED to produce an ENERGETIC beer which is apparently SUMMERPROOF (!!!), with increased intensity of flavour and strength of body, no less. Only the fact that it was first produced in Catalonia in 1953 prevents me from claiming that Mr Gaud’ was crossing the road in search of a nice cold bottle of Voll-Damm, muttering, “stick yer San Miguel up yer arse!” when he had his fateful encounter with a tram.
I LOVE YOU, YOU BIG DUMMY
Val’rie Belin’s photographs often seem to be about death, such as the empty dresses in coffin-like boxes, Miss Haversham’s ghost gone AWOL. But what if death is replaced with a simple lack of life? The untitled series of pictures that forms the core of the exhibition at San Sebasti’n’s Koldo Mitxelena Centre (celebrating its 10th anniversary – Muggins here remembers it opening) at first appears to show the head and shoulders of expertly made-up, passive and self-possessed women. They are attractive, drawing you closer, close enough for your reflection to appear in the glass. Unlike the women, you look podgy and unkempt. Perhaps life is bad. You become uneasy as it dawns on you that these might not be real women. They look a bit plastic. But at this scale they are disquietingly realistic. A glance at the brochure reveals that they are in fact shop window dummies individually cast from real women, a Lady Penelope fetishist’s dream gone sadly down the plughole.
Apparently this kind of thing is called HYPERREALISM and is part of something called POSTMODERNISM. Geezaesthetics purists may prefer to ignore this and INSTEAD simply ask themselves WHICH ONE DO YOU FANCY?
On page 335 of The Complete David Bowie, author Nicholas Pegg describes a release called 1966 as, ‘Yet another reissue of [the Pye singles and B-sides]. For mad people there was even a 12″ picture disc,’ which is fair enough, but if ever there was a book for mad people, Pegg’s 559 page whopper is it. It would certainly drive you mad or put you in an irreversible coma if you tried to read it cover to cover, but as something to dip into over a leisurely breakfast, it’s ideal. The detail is overwhelming, stretching far beyond the music itself. 1995 album 1.Outside is apparently inspired by Bowie’s interest in, ‘the more macabre end of the performance art spectrum, notably Rudolf Schwartzk’gler, leading light of the “Viennese Castrationists” who had cut off his own penis’. Oh, go on, David. Pegg also reproduces an NME review of the same album by Simon Williams: ‘El Bowza’s latest lurch away from reality is entitled Outside, which is kind of about ‘outsiders’ and involves all these strange neo-futuristic characters running around El Bowza’s head and it’s sort of a concept album blah blah bollocks blah blah ARSE!!!!!!!’ A dead cert for Rock’s Back Pages. Bowie’s acting is given generous coverage , as are his interactive exploits and his paintings. This stuff is quite interesting, but I can’t remember why. I suppose it helps that author Pegg is an actor, playwright, theatre director and journalist, so he ought to know his onions. Mott the Hoople, Iggy Pop and other hangers-on or hanged-onners are covered, as are Suede, Bauhaus, Japan, etc. The book is described as ‘an indispensable guide for all serious collectors of David Bowie’s music’ and although there is also plenty here for the casual dabbler, this is where its chief strengths lie. No longer must Bowie freaks lie awake wondering what that strange sound is on Ashes to Ashes; it was obtained by ‘feeding the sound of a grand piano through a gadget rejoicing in the name of the Eventide Instant Flanger….set at maximum wobble,’ and anyone who doesn’t know is a right Bowie joey.
Context is everything, so it was interesting to find my old copy of Something Beginning With O by Kevin Pearce on top of a cupboard in my mother-in-law’s house. Unlike said cupboard, the world has changed a lot over the ten years (or thereabouts) since this book was published. How much has the book itself had to do with those changes?
I don’t know how many books about mods existed before this one (does Moon the Loon count?), but there are plenty now. Books like The Sharper Word: A Mod Anthology, edited by Paolo Hewitt, which contains an extract from Pearce’s book. Other books, such as Your Face Here: British Cult Movies Since the Sixties, by Ali Catterall and Simon Wells, are wrapped in eye-catching mod iconography.
The music referred to in Something Beginning With O remains largely underground, but its influence, fed through the kaleidoscope of Paul Weller’s ever-changing, yet curiously ever-so consistent, musical moods, has been a dominant factor in the last ten years’ Britpop explosion and the Campaign for Real Music led by Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene. A much frowned-upon movement, it seems to have died down and been swiftly and safely anthologised, again in mod-inspired packaging. Weller’s work, the kernel of it all, stands up pretty well, the supposed sloppiness and excess largely imagined by panicking popologists. Perhaps his bare-chested free-form festival jams veer slightly away from the mod aesthetic, but the singles seem to me to fit in nicely with the Weller chapter in Something Beginning With O. Or at least they did three weeks ago, when I started writing this. Now as then, Weller’s the odd-one-out in a bunch of odd-one-outs. Kevin Rowland is back (in the company of Mick Talbot, excitingly enough). Post-Punk is back, sort of.
Mod clobber has been commandeered by the clothing companies, from haute couture catwalk calamities in the Sunday supplements to the remarkable transformation of Lambretta from iconic scooter status to a vaguely pricey, vaguely mod-styled corner in Top Man. The pop-art union jack threads of The Who have been reduced to the cultural flaccidity of union jack dart flights. Then again, Kent’s Mod Jazz series of CDs would have us believe that the original modernists liked nothing more than to shuffle their loafers to Andy Williams’ ‘House of Bamboo’, so perhaps we shouldn’t worry too much.