Saturday 31 July 2021

Saturday Snapshots #200

Welcome to the Super 200th Anniversary edition of Saturday Snapshots. Man, have I got a quiz for you today! Not just ten, but TWENTY artists to identify... but can you guess what links all their songs? 

Even the Daily Planet's top journalists are struggling with this one...

20. Best not to drink.

19. Icky tumble.

18. Joyful quack.

17. Dunce caps all round.

16. Westlife chose not to use them.

15. Cinema soundtrack.

14. He's only semi-sorry.

13. Tie + ie.

12. Peculiarities.

11. Rodeo Channel.

10. Robert, Patti, Elliott.

9. Hull jotter.

8. Purple bloodvessel.

7. Made Idlewild laugh while they argued.

6. Hidden in the bedside table.

5. Copying answers from the rescue dog.

4. Reagan's chimp turns God around, zippity. 

3. Are you ready for your close-up?

2. Three cards, bust at 25. 

1. Cold determination... or desperation?

Can you read my mind? If not, the secret identities will be revealed tomorrow morning...

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Positive Songs For Negative Times #55: The Man Behind The Mask

Yesterday, I took Sam to the cinema in a large nearby shopping centre. It's not the closest cinema, but the tickets are half the price of any other cinema around here, and I'm guaranteed a decent coffee to take in with me.

It was strange being in such a large public place post-lockdown-easing. The last time we went there, everyone was wearing masks and most people were sticking to the one way system, but this time it was a matter of choice. I'd say 60-70% of the shoppers were still in masks, but the rest were going about unmasked. Their choice, the laws have changed. But that choice now makes every one of us pass judgement.

Sam and I were still wearing masks. I'm choosing to do so out of respect for others. Sam has never been bound by law to wear one, but I've always asked him to do so in shops, even though lots of kids his age don't, to underline the seriousness of the situation (I want him to remember it when he's older), as well as for his own safety and the safety of others. Young kids are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers who might innocently infect older, more vulnerable people. That's my reasoning, anyway.

Walking round that mall though, suddenly I couldn't help but look at everyone choosing not to wear a mask as uncaring, callous, blasé. But then I checked myself and wondered if they were all looking at me as a paranoid hypochondriac fool. I've had my two jabs, that should be evident from my age, and why the hell am I making my child wear a mask when so few other kids are doing? Am I victimizing him by doing so, stigmatizing him? Or am I just being smug, still wearing a mask to shine a light on me as some holier-than-thou do-gooder? Or is it a political symbol? By continuing to wear it, I'm showing my allegiance to anyone but the current, grossly-incompetent government... even though the infection numbers are now apparently dropping, and maybe, just maybe, their reckless gamble will actually pay off.  

Back to normal? It doesn't matter if we all toss our masks in the bin tomorrow. We're a long way from normal.

Monday 26 July 2021

Memory Mixtape #4: The Tiger Auction

When I was a kid, my dad's main job (besides being a joiner and a farmer) was as an auctioneer. He was made redundant from a major motor auction company when I was six or seven, but soon set up his own rival car auctions, which he ran with two partners for the next few years, before they bought him out and he went back to woodwork.

When I was a kid, I used to spend quite a bit of time at my dad's auctions. There were men who would drive the cars through into the auction room, then out again once the gavel had gone down, and they'd let me ride along in the back seat. It was a very male atmosphere, full of wheeler dealers, every one of them a Yorkshire Arfur Daley, though my dad never seemed to quite fit that mold. Looking back now, it's hard to believe he ever did anything like this, but there he was up on the rostrum, leaning into the mic and fast talking through the bids before banging down a hammer to the highest bidder. Yes, he did the full spiel... just like Leroy Van Dyke.
It almost seems like something I watched on TV, like it was someone else's dad, but for a while I guess he was quite a big player in that world. I'm not sure how he got into it, other than right place, right time, and knowing the right people. (That's been his explanation when I've asked him.) He even did the annual charity auction at my school... it's like my dad was a rock star for awhile, and putting it in that context makes it all seem like a dream now, not my actual childhood.

I thought I knew all the stories from dad's time as an auctioneer, but over the weekend he surprised me when he casually dropped into conversation "that time I auctioned a real live tiger". Turns out my brother and sister both knew this story, but they're older than me. Chances are, if at happened while he still worked at the big firm, I was too young for the memory to stick. Or perhaps it was even before my time. I'm recording it here for the same reason I write a lot of this blog, not for the few kind folk who drop by to read this ramblings, but so that if I make it to my early 90s (as my dad is now), I'll have these memories here to revisit.

"Why did you auction a tiger, dad?"

"One of the dealers brought it in. They'd bought is as a pet, but it was getting too big..."

(Before you call the animal rights people, remember that this was the 1970s... very different times!)

"So, what, the auction agreed to sell it for the commission?"

My dad laughed. "They probably didn't get a penny out of it. Some of those dealers..."

"The thing I always remember," he added, "is when I banged the gavel down at the end of the auction, it scared the tiger and it ran off into the yard. A bunch of them had to chase it round the car park to get it back."

Sunday 25 July 2021

Snapshots #199: A Top Ten Coloured Light Songs

You hardly needed to be Gandalf to solve yesterday's quiz...

10. ...little star.

Twinkle, twinkle!

9. A scandal, or distorted representation... mostly.

A travesty! Mostly...

8. We all need a little of it...

Tender loving care?

7. He went To Motor Vehicle Engineering Kollege.

ToM. V.E.K.

You come up with a clue for this guy!

6. Hey, hey, they're freezing!

Hey hey, they're the arctic monkees!

5. Where Long Johnny Cash might have recorded.

Long John Silver at Sun Studios?

4. Relatively pretty.

3. Bobby was blue when he heard Paul was going.

Bobby Vinton sang Blue Velvet. 

Paul Weller was going underground.

2. Club Pacific.

Billy club + Pacific Ocean.

1. Inert sex during hymns.


Next week... Snapshots #200! Don't miss it.

Saturday 24 July 2021

Saturday Snapshots #199

Sam was talking to his mates at the last Saturday morning football before the summer break...

"David Beckham is still alive, you know..."

"He must be like a hundred, a hundred and fifty..."

"He's younger than daddy," I pointed out.

"Well, how was he playing in the 60s and 70s then?"

I'll let those who know more about football than I do answer than one. In the meantime, here are ten clues to ten artists. Work out the connection between their songs... 

10. ...little star.

9. A scandal, or distorted representation... mostly.

8. We all need a little of it...

7. He went To Motor Vehicle Engineering Kollege.

6. Hey, hey, they're freezing!

5. Where Long Johnny Cash might have recorded.

4. Relatively pretty.

3. Bobby was blue when he heard Paul was going.

2. Club Pacific.

1. Inert sex during hymns.

Bend it back to the answers tomorrow morning.

Thursday 22 July 2021

Positive Songs For Sweltering Times

As I type this, the temperature in this room is 29 degrees. That's too hot for coherent thought in my book, so any plans to get back to regular blogging this week have been stymied by the heat. 

Here's a song that always come into my head during a heatwave, particularly when it's "too hot to sleep"...

Last night, it was so hot I sat out in the garden till late, in the new hanging chair Louise has bought for the new house. I would never have wanted to sit outside at the old house, so with the exception of the occasional motorbike roaring by, this new home is better in every way. It's a relief to be able to say that after all the stress of our last move.

Another bonus of sitting out in the garden as twilight descends is waiting to be visited by our two neighbourhood bats. I could watch those fellas swooping and diving around all night long. With another track running through my mind whenever I see them... 

(In case you're wondering, Renfield is a character from Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the name has been adopted by psychologists to refer to "clinical vampirism".)

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Conversations With Ben #17: Ice Cream Man

Rol: I went into a local newsagents to get some Formula 1 cards that Sam is collecting. Didn't get any. Instead, I got a 5 minute lecture on how he's been a newsagent all his life and he doesn't stock trading cards because he's seen too many kids throw away money on them and blah blah blah blah blah. It was like something out of League of Gentlemen.

Ben: He sounds more like he hates kids. Probably doesn't like them in his shop at all.

I remember the days of collecting stickers for my Beano Panini sticker books and my Simpsons one.

Running around the house desperate to do chores, no matter how small, so I could get another 30p and run to the shop to get another pack.

I'm so old it was Empire Strikes Back.

That dotard in your newsagent's doesn't know what he's on about. I still have my two stickerbooks. Can't bring myself to throw them away because of the memories of putting it together. I only ever see it when I'm moving but it sparks pleasant memories and I spend a good ten minutes looking through. I still remember which ones were so rare and the excitement of finding them.

Yeah, I still have a couple of mine too.

It was a hilarious scene though. He was still lecturing me as I left the shop. I wish I'd said to him, "how many newspapers are you selling these days, mate?"

You should have gone full bell-end and started mimicking him in the most obnoxious voice with exaggerated hand gestures...

I love miserable shopkeepers though. I still remember the local coffee shop I dared to go in at 3.30 (he closed at 4). He audibly groaned as I walked in and said, "I hope you don't want coffee 'cos I'm cleaning the machine now."

Still, we need to support our local businesses!

Definitely. But it's definitely helpful if they aren't dicks.

You work in customer service in an age where you can get almost anything delivered. All I need is a smile and I'm sold.

Did he at least have a mini freezer full of 10p Mr Freezes?

I wasn't about to start inspecting the things he chose worthy of selling: too busy listening to what he wouldn't sell. I bet he had some dodgy magazines behind the counter. He's probably not heard of the internet.

I really want an ice pop now.

One thing that I really miss as a vegan is a choc ice

I can get Magnums and shop own brand ones and luxury style non dairy ice-creams that mimic a Magnum but I want a choc ice.

Something that has no pretensions.

In a paper bag, usually broken. Cheapest shit on earth. I want that.

We had dairy free ice cream this afternoon.

It was horrible

What brand? There's some shockers.

Poncy ice cream shop that's opened up in the centre of the village. Only sells DF.


I guess so. Sam liked the bubblegum flavour, but the mango I had was minging.

Gritty and ice shards?

No, it was smooth enough. Just tasted artificial. I like a nice sorbet, but this wasn't it.

Can't comment as haven't tried it. But I'd say that's less to do with non dairy and more to do with the flavour that the shop uses. Poorly made vegan ice cream usually is gritty or has ice shards in because non dairy milks have xantham gum in to thicken and stop separation which if you don't freeze it properly separates the water and turns it into some weird ice.

Left a nasty taste in my mouth, can still taste it now. Like those drinks full of aspartame.

That'll just be the flavouring. Probably used a low sugar one. Ugh.

I really want a choc ice now.

There's a Top 10 songs for you. Ones that mention choc ices. Or ice creams. No repeating dishes. i.e. no two sundae songs.

I know Kano had a lyric somewhere with Choc Ice in...

Here you go...

 All ice cream songs. Failed miserably on choc ices.

Needs to be more specific.

E.g. Cone.


Knickerbocker Glory.

Choc ice.


Strawberry split.

I'll need more time for that.

I'm sure Kelis must have a song about licking ice creams...

Just trying to challenge you...

I will accept cone and waffle cone as two separate ones.

Also a tub of ice cream.

Not something like "two scoops" as that doesn't define the sort of ice-cream.

Magic Whip is the worst Blur album. So I'm not going there.

I'd completely forgot that one exists.

If you struggle, I will also accept half of them to be ice lollies, but they must refer to the product itself and not just use the word. I.e. "fab" and "zoom" must refer to the ice lolly Fab and not an adjective and zoom must refer to that bitching ice lolly and not the verb.

Also, please don't say "bitchin", even ironically.

Zooms are pretty good though, aren't they? Do they still make them?

I've no idea what you're talking about.

Those and fab lollies fuelled my childhood.

And Mini Milks.

Never liked a Feast.

Nobbly Bobblies were a treat when the ice cream van came, though.

Bennet - Mum Has Gone To Iceland contains a reference to "ice cream topping"...

Don't suppose you'll allow one of the Top Five Greatest TV Theme Tunes of all time?

There's a Cadbury's Flake here... the most important bit of a 99...

I feel like a 99 is ubiquitous enough to be referenced as a whole...

Ian Dury's Blackmail Man has Raspberry Ripple in it... but he's using rhyming slang to refer to himself

That's one. 

That's two.

John Grant - Marz... lots of ice cream flavours in that, surely?

I'll accept that one grudgingly.

It's more confectionery but, yeah.

Vanilla Ice, obviously...

If that's a link explaining sexual practices, I'm not clicking on it.

John Cougar Mellencamp - Jack & Diane... behind the Tastee Freez...

Tastee freez is a shop.

Selling soft scoop ice cream.

We're on about frozen desserts. Not locations to buy frozen desserts.

Otherwise Rabbit would count as it mentions Sainsbury's.

Sainsbury's isn't an ice cream shop.

They sell ice-cream.

I'm not playing unless you allow me Jack & Diane.

You can have Jack and Diane.

That's the only one involving an ice-cream shack allowed.

Thank you. I will move on from that source now.

I feel like you're too focused on generic ice cream. I don't want a Farm Foods Neapolitan. I want a variety of frozen treats.

The King Blues - Getting Out Of Here has Cornettos in it. Your sort of band. Very political. I saw them supporting Bragg once.

I saw them a number of years ago. They changed direction I think. I think the singer became a rapper.

Yeah. I think he got sick of nobody listening.

That's me done. I've exhausted this topic.

Banana Splits?

Louise hated when I introduced Sam to the Banana Splits.

Love the Banana Splits. When I was about 7 they reran their Saturday morning show on cartoon network. With all the skits and the shows within them.

I can't say I ever got the appeal, beyond the theme song.

I think it's the chaotic nature of them.

Especially when every other presenter was trying to be more cool.

Even at an early age you were rebelling against the system.

I think I've said but I loved the slapstick nature of The Three Stooges, Mr Bean, Tom and Jerry. And this was a set of shows that were presented by these silly creatures. The go kart bit always cracked me up.

I found them a bit scary. Still do.

Sunday 18 July 2021

Snapshots #198: A Top Ten Favourite Songs

Is it that time already? Time for the answers to yesterday's Snapshots. And as the link was Favourite Songs, above is an image from my favourite film as a teenager, Back To The Future.

Most of these are oldies. Well, they're oldies where I come from...

10. He is in debt to Mr. Simon.

He's owing Paul.

9. A Shaky Oh and a golfing saint.

Oh Julie + St. Andrews...

8. Matt Lucas on the drums.

Matt Lucas was George Dawes.

7. Sell-out cynic.


6. Arachnids get mixed up.

Unmix "arachnids get" and you get...

5. Spare parts.

4. Early British cars.

Specifically these, the Armstrong Siddeley...

3. Sounds like a gloating angel.

Cheryl Ladd was an Angel (for Charlie). Gloating is crowing.

2. You're fired!

Says Sir Alan Sugar.

1. Bob Century.

A bob is a type of haircut. A century = 100.

Get Back to Snapshots in the Future... next Saturday, to be precise. Great Scott!

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