Saturday, 17 April 2021

Saturday Snapshots #185

Like a willow blowing in the wind, Saturday Snapshots blows back into town... and let's dedicate this week's quiz to Alysons everywhere, especially those with a y.

You know the drill by now. Guess ten artists from the clues below. Work out the thematic connection between their songs, then identify the songs. Go.

10. Not the French band.

9. The front of the ship, that is.

8. Could be Jack's victims?

7. Join teeth: yow!

6. The sound of Queen's motorbike.

5. Heaven wouldn't, but...

4. Heard by Horton.

3. Short gambler makes you go Euurrrghh!

2. Place for exercise, halfway between Stoke and Wolverhampton.

1. Muddled moaners.

How You Meet Your Answers... tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Radio Songs #72: Reception

This is the reception at the old building, so this will have been the first room I entered when I was led down the stairs from the side door featured a couple of weeks back. The reception didn't remain a reception for long after I got there. A few years later is was moved upstairs, into the light, and the old wood panelling here was stripped away. But this is how it looked when I first arrived, the day I came for my interview and was immediately given the (unpaid) Saturday morning job. I was 16, but I finally felt like a grown up.

Here's a close up of some of the presenter photos on the wall. The dashing young gentleman in the middle is the only one I really remember. In fact, though I never worked with him directly, he's one of the few people from the early days that I'm still in touch with, via Facebook, and he still does the odd spot of presenting, I think, on one of those retro-online stations that harken back to how local radio used to sound before the commercial homogeneity set in. 

This isn't the most interesting of posts, I will fully admit, since I don't really have any stories about reception. But for me, these photos are still worth a million in prizes.

Here's a song that starts in reception... and is still very, very true. Plus, it's got a French Horn in it, which always nice.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Positive Songs For Negative Times #51: The Test

I've been allowed to return to my workplace some days of this week. Not all. Not yet. I'm still fighting for that. Before I did that though, I had to do my first home test kit. What a pain in the arse that was!

(Insert "you're not doing it right!" joke here.)

I imagine many of you might have already had the pleasure of a Covid test, but for anyone who hasn't... it's a rather complicated procedure, involving rubbing a swab over both your tonsils repeatedly (while fighting the urge to gag - a few of my colleagues have actually thrown up) and then sticking the same swab up a nostril and rotating it in ten complete circles.

"The same swab!?!" was Louise's reaction. "That's disgusting."

You then stick the swab into a test solution, stir it round for 15 seconds, drop two drops of the solution onto a test strip and wait 30 minutes for a red line to appear at C (control) and not T (test). If you get both, you're positive. C on its own, negative.

You then report your own results on the NHS website. (I had to also do it on the college website.)

And then you get a text back from the NHS confirming that you have a negative test result.

Now, call me cynical, but there appears to be something of a flaw in this methodology. As in, it relies on people to be honest. And if you're on a zero hours contract, for example, and stand to not get paid if you're forced to self-isolate for two weeks, you might well be tempted to report a negative even if you don't actually get one. I mentioned this to Ben, and for once, I had to agree with him.

It's no mistake that it's self-reporting. It takes the onus off the state and allows them to blame the individual. 

Still, I only have to do this twice a week for the rest of the term. I suppose it's a small price to pay to get out of teaching from my bedroom...

Here's a song from a band I'd never heard of before, discovered via the always reliable Natasha

Eggs Over Easy have an interesting history, starting life as a country band from Greenwich Village, New York, before crossing the pond to become residents of the London pub rock scene, eventually returning to the States and settling in San Francisco where they supported The Eagles and Yes.

Party Party sounds like a cross between the Steve Miller Band and Steely Dan. While not in the same league as either, it's still worth a few moments of your time, as is the far pub-rockier I'm Gonna Put a Bar in the Back of My Car (& Drive Myself to Drink).

Bonus points, obviously, for basing their album cover on my favourite Hopper painting. 

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Conversations With Ben #12: The Mourning After

Before I start this week's conversation, I just want to convince you, once and for all, that I don't make these posts up, and despite what Alyson (and others among you) may choose to believe, Ben is an actual real person. I'd love to have the time to spend writing fictional conversations like this every week, but really it's just a cheap excuse for a blog post when I can copy & paste then edit down a week's worth of Whatsapp messages into this regular Tuesday nonsense.

Secondly, I was a bit worried about this week's conversation, in case it upset any of my regular readers who may actually have been in mourning this past weekend. So I popped over to Jez's place on Saturday to check the mood of the blogosphere (always a good place to start) and was reassured that I probably didn't need to worry too much. 

Ben sums it up best below when he says, "I feel awful for his family. It's never nice to lose a loved one. But let's not lionise the man..."

OK, enough with the pre-amble. Surf on over to another blog now if you're part of the Mary Whitehouse crowd (topical references, as always, my speciality).

Ben: Sorry, not thinking straight. The news about Prince Phillip has got to me.

Rol: Can we have a national day of mourning? Say, next week, when I'm back  in work? Wednesday is good for me.

A bloody week is not enough. Not enough.

Especially as he embodied the way in which the current administration seem to go about their business.

There, there. You'll get over it.

It'll be Harry and Meghan's fault. You wait and see.

It's so lonely on a limb.

No entiendo Rol-englesa.

Rol links to...

Ben replies with a link of his own...

Royal Mail cutbacks. One less telegram the Queen has to send next year.

Mrs. Ben made that joke already.

Low hanging fruit.

She also has given him one every year, I'd assume.

I thought you only got one at 100.

I'm sure family got more.

Like a nan usually does.

A tenner stuck inside.

She was his wife, not his nan. He'd be lucky to get a card.

This isn't an 80s sitcom. Partners are nice to, and do like, their spouses. Mrs. Ben gave me a treasure hunt on my birthday.

Sorry. I was just going from personal experience.

My year 8 form tutor once told us a joke that ended with the punchline, "why would [my wife] want a watch when there was a clock on the oven?" and I remember thinking, "and you're a dick". I ended up getting put on report numerous times because I called him a dick on several occasions.

One of those real old fashioned teachers.

Copy what was on the blackboard and you could sit in silence till the end of the class.

I walked out of his class numerous times.

Then again, I was just a little shit.

Like when Miss Miranda in Spanish made me move and I'd slowly drag my chair to where I was told to sit because, "that chair's cold and this one's warm already."

Pity they'd stopped corporal punishment by the time you got to school.

That unproven method that made a teacher feel a little better?

Our junior school teacher used to throw the board rubber at our heads if we were messing around. We stopped messing around when he did.

Only because you didn't want it to happen and not because it taught respect.

I had a lot of respect for him. He was a great teacher.

Don't be pedantic.

I'm extremely pedantic, but I don't think I was being then.

He was the first teacher to treat us and talk to us like adults. More so than a lot of the teachers we had at high school.

That had no relation to the eraser attack though.

It was a proportionate response given the mores of that time.

I do so enjoy challenging your cosy, parochial neo-liberal worldview from time to time. It gives me a reason to keep going.

I resisted using the term "namby pamby".

I genuinely hope you're using the term neoliberal as a joke there.

I just plucked it out of the air because I figured it would achieve the desired response.

Would namby pamby be better?

Well, since Thatcher is the archetypal neoliberal, yes.

Namby Pamby is fine.

Shows what I know. In what world can the term liberal be applied to a nazi?

As in the classic sense of the term Liberal. Someone who believes in the free market.

Surely that's a political-only definition?

That's what neoliberal means. It's a politics term that's become more mainstream.

Actually, I just looked up liberal and the first definition I came across was, "willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one's own; open to new ideas."

So I take it back. That's definitely not you.

The "neo" part relates to the belief that it is important sometimes to interfere when the market struggles to allow it to stabilise. A removal of unnecessary state interference.

I just thought it was to do with Keanu.

No. That's Johnny Utah.

Now Prince Phillip can join the Ex-Presidents.

(Obscure references to the movie Point Break there. Sorry.)

Running a benefits scam for the last 75 years wasn't enough?

You wouldn't think he'd have had time. What with all his royal faux pas duties, counting his Nazi gold, and casual racism.


I feel awful for his family. It's never nice to lose a loved one.

But let's not lionise the man.

Your humanity will be the death of your hardlinism.

Can you write my obit?

I'll be long gone.

Nothing a little necromancy can't solve.

Just caught 30 seconds of the BBC's rolling 24 hour-wake. "...a man who stood against facism..."

Facing it?

Propping open the door?

Ben sends a photo of the BBC iPlayer's Friday night content choice...

I know people live different lifestyles to me, and I accept that. I just wish they wouldn't shove it down my throat.

It is astounding. And I think it will backfire on them. The BBC in particular are out of touch with their audience.

(Ben points out that rapper DMX died on the same day as Prince Phillip.)

It's Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson all over again.

Was TV too focused on him when he died?

I remember it was my third date with this girl.

But then she wanted to spend all night talking about him.

I didn't. I wanted to do... other things.

Nothing compared to Diana. I was supposed to be running a Party in the Park event with the Spice Girls the day she pegged it.

I was quite relieved at the time.

I just remember being really annoyed because my mum wouldn't let me watch cartoons and was crying at the TV.

I'm just wondering which part of his back catalogue Elton will sacrifice this time?

Phil-adelphia Freedom?

Honky Cat?

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word?

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. All to footage of him ramming that civilian. Where he was "spoken to" by the police.

I think all footage mysteriously disappeared before AC12 got there.

I'm still cringing from the "Hastings, like the battle" quip last week.

He's been waiting 6 series to do that gag.

Several toenails fell off as my skin shrivelled at it.

I didn't mind it. It fit Hastings' character as a purveyor of corny idioms.

I think Jed Mercurio should resign because of it.

It's only a TV show, you know.

He should resign.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Neverending Top Ten #3.9: Saturday Morning Football

Saturday morning football was allowed to re-open this week, and the snow came with it. It was freezing up at the pitch, but a pretty spectacular view, nevertheless.

In the three months since he was last allowed to play, Sam seems to have somehow developed new skills. He scored three goals on Saturday... that's three more than I ever scored in my whole life. What I like about this particular group of young footballers is that there's none of the aggressive dads on the side-lines shouting, "come on, my son!" and treating their off-spring like the next Beckham. Maybe that'll change when he joins the league proper next year, but it's all pretty relaxed at the moment.

Here's a song Sam's been quite taken with when I included it on a car compilation recently. Probably one the Cancel Culture mob would massacre if they got their hands on it, cultural appropriation and all that. Sigh. I feel old just typing that...

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Snapshots #184: A Top Ten Magic Songs

What connected all the songs on yesterday's Snapshots quiz, Paul?

"That's... magic!"

10. Library woman in disarray.

"Library woman" is a wonderful anagram for old Manly Barrimore...

Barry Manilow - Could It Be Magic?

9. Like 10CC and Pearl Jam. (Ick.)

I won't spoil your Saturday morning by explaining the connection too graphically, suffice it to say their names all come back to the same point of origin...

The Lovin' Spoonful - Do You Believe In Magic?

8. Not involved with The Female of the Species.

The 90s band Space sand about The Female Of The Species.

20 odd years before that though, there was a French band with the same moniker...

Space - Magic Fly

And that's where Daft Punk got their act.

7. Wild German dog.

Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride

6. Boob drug? Oh!

It was an anagram!

Bob Dorough - Three Is A Magic Number

5. Discovered gravity on the loo.

Isaac Newton, on the John.

Olivia Newton John - Magic

Some great minor chords in that.

4. Steal a duck.

Nick a drake!

Nick Drake - Magic

3. Army (under another name) eats home-made Sunday dinner.

Another name for army might be limb-y.

Homemade Sunday dinner is family cooking.

Limmie & The Family Cooking - You Can Do Magic

2. Dangermouse. Krypto. Champion.

They're all Super Furry Animals, of course.

Super Furry Animals - God! Show Me Magic

1. Victoria.

Queen Victoria, obviously.

More magic next Saturday.

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