Monday 29 November 2021

Positive Songs For Negative Times #66: Survivor Guilt

I had a message from a former colleague at The Bad Place last week, asking me to provide him a reference for a job. I was happy to oblige, and even happier when I heard that he'd got it. (I don't take credit for that, I'm sure he'd have got it without my reference, he is an excellent teacher.)

Understandably, he was over the moon to have found a way out of The Bad Place, and filled me in on some of the things that had been happening there since I left. Needless to say: bad to worse. Just hearing about what was going on there though, imagining myself having to deal with it, I felt the old anxiety coming back. And this time it was mixed with something else, something I can only characterise as survivor guilt. Like those lucky few who got a lifeboat on the Titanic or escaped the Twin Towers before they fell... you can't help but feel terrible for the ones who didn't (yet) get away. My former colleagues and friends, going down with the ship. I know many of them are looking for a life raft or escape tunnel too. I hope they find one soon.

I thought about playing some Survivor to accompany this post, but they only really have one great song, and the beret always bothers me. Instead, here's some Curtis. You can't go wrong with Curtis.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Snapshots #217: A Top Ten Autumn Songs

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,

   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

      For Snapshots has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Here are this week's autumnal answers...

10. Roofing material with added bullshit.

Straw + BS.

The Strawbs - Autumn

9. Eponymously and thematically falling.

The Autumn Leaves - Theme To The Autumn Leaves

Pretty obscure that one. Well done if you got it.

8. Singer with a Spanish bum falls in Midlands river.

Jackie was the singer with the Spanish bum. The Midlands river was the Trent.

Jackie Trent - Autumn Leaves

7. Poe arrives too late in the year.

Edgar Allen Poe misses Autumn and arrives in the Winter.

Edgar Winter Group - Autumn

6. Bird of prey kills labourer.

Hawk slays workman!

Hawksley Workman - Autumn's Here

5. Browne songwriter reaches the top.

Jackson hits the heights.

The Jackson Heights - Autumn Brigade

4. Mule-owning Sister From UNCLE.

Two Mules for Sister Sarah.

Robert Vaughan was the Man From UNCLE.

Sarah Vaughan - Autumn In New York

3. Found in dark inks.


The Kinks - Autumn Almanac

2. Crusaders of unbalanced avenue.

Manic Street Preachers - Autumnsong

1. Austrian DJ: why?


Justin Hayward - Forever Autumn

The giveaway, surely.

Before winter sets in, there will be more Snapshots next Saturday.

Saturday 27 November 2021

Saturday Snapshots #217

Dyb dyb dyb! Welcome back to Saturday Snapshots, where your task is to light a fire using only a twig and a shard of flint. Or, if you prefer, to identify the ten artists below and work out what might connect certain of their songs.

You don't need to be a boy or girl scout to survive these clues... but it might help.

10. Roofing material with added bullshit.

9. Eponymously and thematically falling.

8. Singer with a Spanish bum falls in Midlands river.

7. Poe arrives too late in the year.

6. Bird of prey kills labourer.

5. Browne songwriter reaches the top.

4. Mule-owning Sister From UNCLE.

3. Found in dark inks.

2. Crusaders of unbalanced avenue.

1. Austrian DJ: why?

Can you Bear to wait for the answers tomorrow morning?

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Neverending Top Ten #4.4: Don't Cry, Dad

For some reason, all Sam's away games seem to be played on mountain tops. It's bloody freezing on the sidelines. Even when I'm wearing two coats. Just call me Daddy Two Coats. Or... maybe Dad Two Coats.

You see, I've noticed that whenever Sam is around his footballing mates, I cease being Daddy - the name he's called me for the past 8 years, the badge I wear with pride. Now I'm merely the somehow less intimate, already growing distant every day "Dad". Back in the car, or at home, I'll revert to being Daddy... but out there on the pitch. I'm just Dad.

Rites of passage don't just affect the young. As Brad Paisley says, There's A Last Time For Everything... I wonder how long it'll be before I cease to be Daddy forever?

Some consider Don't Cry Daddy to be Elvis at his most mawkish. Not me. I reckon he takes Mac Davis's song and injects genuine tragedy via a tender and sincere performance. Further evidence that Elvis was the Prince of Pathos, as well as the King of Rock n Roll. 

Excuse me. Something in my eye...

Tuesday 23 November 2021

Memory Mixtape #9: Learning To Drive

The lady above is Anne Hall, "one of England’s greatest rally drivers", and also the lady who taught me to drive in the early 90s (when she herself was in her 70s). I suspect my dad knew her and her husband through his time as a car auctioneer. As well as racing, she ran her own driving school, and taught many people in Huddersfield how to drive... carefully, not like a rally champion!

She was a tough but fair instructor and I loved my lessons. She got quite upset when I didn't pass first time - not at me, but at the examiner, who "didn't know what he was talking about".

But I knew why I failed first time. Halfway through the test, I pulled up at a big set of traffic lights in the centre of Huddersfield and glanced in my rear view mirror. A car pulled up behind me and I recognised it immediately... it was my mum. I could see her peering through the windscreen, trying to see if that was me in the car ahead. After that, my concentration was shot.

I'm not saying I blame my mum for failing first time... but I certainly don't blame the late Mrs. Hall.

Jarvis Cocker would have been an excellent driving instructor, had he not followed the pop star route. Here he is in collaboration with fellow-Sheffield noise-makers, The All-Seeing I, who I remember seeing live in the late 90s, around the time their album Pickled Eggs & Sherbert was released... although Jarvis was absent that night.

Monday 22 November 2021

Neverending Top Ten #4.3: The More You See Norma

Sam has started to question the song titles when they appear on the in-car stereo. The view screen gives us track info, but only as much of the title as can be squeezed into a 10cm box. So longer titles take some figuring out. For instance, he was convinced that The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get by Morrissey was actually called The More You See Norma, The Closer I Get, which would actually be a much better song title... especially for Morrissey.

This also led to the following exchange when One Night In Bangkok by Murray Head (Or: One Night In...) flashed up on the screen...

(Anyone reading this nonsense for the first time might question why that particular song would be playing in my car. Longtime readers are probably immune to that by now.)

"Year 5 are doing this for their song in the Nativity Play this year."


"Yes, it's a really big, complicated song to sing."

"They're singing One Night In Bangkok for Nativity!? Why?"

"Miss XXX chose it."

"Are they going to rap the verses like he does? I can't wait to hear them singing 'I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine!'".

"Well, they're doing it."

I don't see you guys rating
The kind of mate I'm contemplating
I'd let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

"Are you sure about this, Sam?"

"Wait, what's it called again, this song?"

"One Night In Bangkok."

"Oh. Maybe the one Year 5's doing is called One Night At Christmas. It's a bit like this one though."

Sunday 21 November 2021

Snapshots #216: A Top Ten Songs About Brazil

Look, this was the first thing I found when I put "Brazilian celebrities with cameras" into Google, OK. If I could have found a picture of Pele holding a camera, he would have been here instead of Gisele.


10. Vadim's villain.

The villain in Roger Vadim's movie Barbarella was... Durand Durand.

Duran Duran - Rio

Condemning the 80s with one single video.

9. Half a drum, half a Scottish sunbeam.

Half a Tom Tom... plus a Mc-Ray.

Tom McRae - São Paulo Rain

8. Will Pakistan get zebras, Trudy wonders? The answers lie within.

The image above is, as revealed by Walter, Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, who have nothing to do with Brazil... though they did feature prominently in an image search for these guys...

Will PakiSTAN GET ZebrAS, TRUDy wonders?

Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto - The Girl From Ipanema

Amazingly, despite having done this quiz for over 4 years, that's only the third time I've posted a wrong picture.

7. They sound like silly Scots.

Guillemots rhymes with Silly Scots... doesn't it?

Guillemots - Trains To Brazil

6. Good bee lost in window doors.

The Good Bee would be Johnny, as in Johnny B. Goode.

"winDOW Doors"

Johnny Dowd - Maybe Brazil

5. There's no end to this Beach Boy after he joins a big band.

Mike Love was the Beach Boy.

The Love Unlimited Orchestra - Brazilian Love Song

(With Barry conducting, obviously.)

4. Airblown Mary.


Barry Manilow - Copacabana

Although it's named after the Brazilian beach, the Copacabana nightclub can't be in Brazil, since it's the hottest spot north of Havana. I'm not brilliant at Geography, but even I can work that one out.

3. Mad king steps down the peer.

Mad King George goes down the peerage to become a Duke.

George Duke - Brazilian Love Affair

2. Barbed conductor.

Wire is a conductor. That's how we get electricity into our homes. It can also be barbed.

Wire - Brazil

1. Lithe mechanism.


Michael Nesmith - Rio

Join me next Saturday for a Bündchen more Snapshots...

Saturday 20 November 2021

Saturday Snapshots #216

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice!

Say the magic words three times and Saturday Snapshots appears!

Can you identify this week's artists... and work out what connects their songs?


10. Vadim's villain.

9. Half a drum, half a Scottish sunbeam.

8. Will Pakistan get zebras, Trudy wonders? The answers lie within.

You'll notice that I changed the image, following Walter's comment. This is a much easier image to identify... but honestly, do a google image search yourself and you'll see the previous pic comes up pretty high on the ranking!

7. They sound like silly Scots.

6. Good bee lost in window doors.

5. There's no end to this Beach Boy after he joins a big band.

4. Airblown Mary.

3. Mad king steps down the peer.

2. Barbed conductor.

1. Lithe mechanism.

Will you Winona the prize? Find out tomorrow...

Thursday 18 November 2021

Positive Songs For Positive Times #65: Feelin' Good

Driving home from work last night, despite the fact that I'd stayed late for a training session, despite the fact that the traffic was even heavier than usual, despite the fact that the journey took me 75 minutes... I had a thought, a feeling I haven't had in a long, long time.

I like my job.

Those of you who've stuck with the relentless wall of misery this blog has been over the past few years will get why that is such a big deal.

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