Monday, 20 September 2021

Positive Tests For Positive Times

So this happened.

Under normal circumstances, not the best of news. But considering I still have five weeks to serve in The Bad Place...

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Snapshots #207: A Top Ten Mirror Songs

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the best Saturday morning photo-based pop music quiz of them all?

Really? Shucks.

10. Aloe needs one.

Aloe Blacc sang I Need A Dollar.

Dollar - Mirror Mirror

9. Cots & copies.

Cots are cribs. You can also crib someone else's answers.

The Cribs - Mirror Kissers

8. Western detectives come in all shades.

Pinkerton's Assorted Colours - Mirror Mirror

7. Aunt found in decrepit subject.

Aunt Sally in an old field (as in, "what's your field of study?")

Sally Oldfield - Mirrors

6. Beach Boy goes to work for NASA.

Mike Love goes to work with Rockets.

Love & Rockets - Mirror People

5. Mixed up coin in silky tube.

The mixed up COIN is NICO.

The silky tube is obvious.

The Velvet Underground & Nico - I'll Be Your Mirror

4. Difficult to distinguish from your arse.

You just can't tell your arse from your elbow, can you?

Elbow - Mirrorball

3. Good for drums, eggs and carpets.

They're all things you might beat.

The Beat - Mirror In The Bathroom

2. Advanced scrapple.

Scrapple is an early form of Meatloaf. Apparently.

Meat Loaf - Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are 

1. Founded in the year 2415 A.D.

This is where they got their name from.

The Human League - Mirror Man

More next Saturday...

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Saturday Snapshots #207

If a Rolling Stone gathers no Moss, then at least young Kate will be safe from the likes of Mick 'n' Keef. 

All of which has absolutely nothing to do with the quiz... your task, as always, is to identify the ten artists below and then work out what connects their tunes. I think it's a bit easier this week...

10. Aloe needs one.

9. Cots & copies.

8. Western detectives come in all shades.

7. Aunt found in decrepit subject.

6. Beach Boy goes to work for NASA.

5. Mixed up coin in silky tube.

4. Difficult to distinguish from your arse.

3. Good for drums, eggs and carpets.

2. Advanced scrapple.

1. Founded in the year 2415 A.D.

Answers tomorrow morning... though I doubt you'll need them.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Cnut Songs #7: The Very Definition Of Futility

On Wednesday afternoon, for half an hour, I live the full King Cnut dream. There is no more perfect illustration of shouting at the sea than this. For Wednesday afternoon is my turn at Connect Duty. All managers (even lowly ones like myself) take their turn throughout the week... except the oily ones, who merely palm the task off on a lackey.

Connect Duty normally involves standing inside the security barriers at reception and making sure incoming students have an ID badge. If they don't, we send them to the desk to get a temporary pass. And we try our very best to stop the ones who buzz their badgeless friends in, or tailgate through the gates behind someone else.

This year though, Connect Duty has taken on an extra degree of responsibility. And herein lies the futility. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and really, you don't have any choice) is to ensure that all incoming students have, and are wearing, a face-mask. (Except those with exemptions.) 

And so you stand there with a little plastic basket of face masks, waving it at any student who enters without a mask. (You won't be surprised to hear, that's most of them.)

"Facemask, guys?"

"Do you need a mask?"

"Oh, you've got one - can you pop it on, please?"

I've written before about how I'm still supportive of facemasks and still wearing them myself whenever necessary, even though I'm often in the minority. But the futility here doesn't come from the often-belligerent responses I get to my entreaty...

"I'm not wearing a chuffing mask!" (My personal favourite. There's no sentence that can't be improved by a well-placed "chuffing".)

No, the futility comes as I'm doing my best to get all incoming students to wear a mask... while behind me, a hoard of outgoing students exit the college, not one of them wearing a mask. 

Whatever our best intentions, I think that boat has sailed.

The futile, the futile, it outweighs the beautiful...

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #68: To-Do List


I'm amazed I still get time to write this blog, since I rarely have time to do anything else remotely pleasurable these days. I'm sure many of you feel the same.

However, those pesky Scientists have just announced that too much free time can make us depressed. 

Whenever I read a study like that, my first thought is: who commissioned it? Probably the same government minister who told people who were having their benefits cut to "work more hours". We live in a culture where people are being actively encouraged (and oft times forced) to work longer hours than is good for them. That's one of the things that is killing many teachers, but I'm sure it's the same in many other professions... I dread to think what it's like in the NHS. Those who do it get no rewards (it's not as though those teachers working 90 hour weeks are claiming overtime) and those who refuse to do it (me, for one) are put under pressure from both management and peers for not pulling their weight. 

Meanwhile, what time do we have for leisure and relaxation? 

Oh, it's OK, the scientists just said we don't need it...

If you think you're busy though, spare a thought for the Felice Brothers. Their new single To-Do List puts us all to shame. 

Wash all the pots and linen
Find a psychoanalyst
Go to the bank and deposit cheques
Sweep up the shattered dish

Return everything that I've borrowed
Change all the bloody gauze
Buy a spinach-coloured dinner jacket
Defy all natural laws

Ohhhhhh... cancel Better Homes & Gardens
Ohhhhhh... admire Gothic arches

Become a lot more happy
Build a maze of styrofoam
Befriend an unfortunate lunatic
Wail on a saxophone

(And that's just the first minute.)

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Cnut Songs #6: Working On The Highway

(They've even got roadworks on Abbey Road.)

I counted last night. On my 25 minute (post rush hour) journey home, I had to stop at 7 different sets of temporary traffic lights. And that's when I choose the best route! 

Someone has taken a map and stuck pins (multiple pins) in every possible path I can take to get home from The Bad Place, then dug the road up in all those places. There's no shortage of work in roadworks, it seems.

Then I saw something that made me realise what was actually going on. On the back of the Highway Maintenance trucks, the answer is there for all to see. I don't know if it's the same where you live, but  in my area the backs of those trucks read:

Highway Maintenance - We WILL Beat Covid-19

Clearly all these roadworks aren't about laying cables or fixing water mains or resurfacing cracked tarmac. They're actually looking for a cure to the coronavirus! It must be buried somewhere round here. I hope they find it soon.

Monday, 13 September 2021

2021 Contenders: Old Friends

Andrew Howie is a Scottish musician I discovered recently through The Roddy Hart Show. I was very taken by a couple of the tracks I heard, and decided to investigate his new album, Pale White Branches, figuring he was a talented newcomer...

Turns out he's been on the go since the turn of the century, first recording under the name Calamateur, attracting the attention of John Peel and other Radio One evening jocks. A quick look at his discography reveals 21 records to investigate, ranging from acoustic to electric guitar, ambient to electronica. Further study is clearly required, but for now I'll content myself with Pale White Branches, particularly the song Broompark Drive, a stunning remembrance of a long lost teenage friendship from the 80s...

On Broompark Drive
In the summer of eighty-five
Where the crossroads cut
Through our lives

You gave me a home from home
An alliance to call my own
Footprints to follow through
The great unknown

It was a baptism into the American dream
For this middle-class kid raised on state-side TV
With your jam you called jelly, your room called a den
It seems pedestrian now but it was glorious then

You had a digital watch with its own secret PIN
This was cutting-edge tech you could keep phone numbers in
And when you gave me my own in September that year
It was like catching a glimpse of the final frontier

We had late-night sleepovers locked in your room
Reading James Dobson's book page seventy two
And you had to explain with a static silhouette
With your fingers and thumbs against the television set

When I spiked up my hair up and got laughed out of school
I'd come round to your house and we'd joke and play pool
And those cruel little bastards could never compare
To the warmth of your home and the peace I found there

Then your dad got a job back home in the States
And your good-bye gift was this alarm clock that played tapes
And it lay by my bed like a delicate shrine
Until the digits wore out and I lost track of time

Now it's been thirty-five years since we were warmed by that flame
And there have been times when I've thought I should look up your name
But some friendships burn bright and then flicker down low
And there are places and times we just need to let go

Like Broompark Drive
Nineteen eight-five
Where the crossroads cut
Through our lives

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Snapshots #206: A Top Ten Netherlands Songs

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. But I've never seen anything like you guys working together to crack the answers on Saturday Snapshots.

As our songs today all relate to The Netherlands, I called up one of their famous sons, the late Rutger Hauer, to help us hitch a ride to the answers... 

10. Where Impartial Ernie stays, next door to 5.

Ernie was a Milkman. If he was impartial, he'd be neutral. #5 is a hotel.

Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland, 1945

9. Interesting snooker player, not a bad guy.

The snooker player was Steve "Interesting" Davis (thank, Spitting Image).

Steve Goodman - The Dutchman

8. Middling racecar.

Malcolm was in the middle. McLaren builds racecars.

Malcolm McLaren - Double Dutch

7. Stern nephew. Geddit?

That's one big anagram.

The Wedding Present - Rotterdam

6. Probably one of the places the Human League went on holiday.

The Human League went to The Lebanon. The capital city is Beirut.

Beirut - August Holland

5. Hotel for me and him.

The Two Ronnies said "Goodnight from me and him".

Ronnie Hilton - A Windmill in Old Amsterdam

4. I'm outraged by the price some petrol stations charge.

Me... Shell-Shocked!

Michelle Shocked - 5AM In Amsterdam

3. French Jim, not quite brill.

James in French is Jacques.

Jacques Brel - Amsterdam

2. Sweet Home Alabama?

The Beautiful South - Rotterdam

1. He covets lollies.


(And yes, I know New Amsterdam was the original name for New York... so nowhere near The Netherlands. But I'm presuming it was named by Dutch settlers.)

Nether mind if you didn't get them all. There will be another chance next Saturday.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Saturday Snapshots #206

It's been a Skeleton Service this week here at My Top Ten due to the start of the new college year, but I'm still counting down to my new job, so hanging in there, because like an anti-Wyclef, I'll be gone by November.

Meanwhile, it's time to put on your X-ray Spex for another edition of Saturday Snapshots. Can you see through the clues below to identify ten famous artists... and then work out which of their songs are connected? 

10. Where Impartial Ernie stays, next door to 5.

9. Interesting snooker player, not a bad guy.

8. Middling racecar.

7. Stern nephew. Geddit?

6. Probably one of the places the Human League went on holiday.

5. Hotel for me and him.

4. I'm outraged by the price some petrol stations charge.

3. French Jim, not quite brill.

2. Sweet Home Alabama?

1. He covets lollies.

The answers will have developed by tomorrow morning. 

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