Saturday, September 29, 2007

Stan Sees Some Dance

If you want to feel fat and old, go and see the Rambert Dance Company's "World View Tour".

Strangely enough this isn't something they mention in their advertising materials.

Not only are the dancers built like greyhounds, but if you sit in the cheap seats you'll be surrounded by every teenage dance student in your area, as they have presumably been given tickets in return for whooping and cheering at the end of each Act.

You see, a Contemporary Dance performance, no matter how good, does not fill a 1730 seat theatre in Manchester for four nights running. The place was at best a quarter full, and only half of those were paying customers..

Which was a shame, because it was outstanding. The pick of the pieces was the world premiere of "Infinity" - a dramatic piece with dancers in white on a black stage with red petals falling in piles from the ceilling, with music by the Australian dancer, composer and skateboarder, Luke Smiles.

I had a great time, despite feeling fat and old and nursing a runny nose and a flu-jabbed arm. I just think they should have moved the performance to the 466 seat Quays theatre next door - it would absolutely have rocked the house.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Towering Innuendo

My attitude to London was fairly typical for a Northerner.

Think about the Daleks' attitude to the Tardis and you wouldn't be far off.

I hated the way it monopolised the economy and cultural life in this country - heck it even monopolised the weather forecast.
What made my attitude worse was that I had a desperate time there after University; no friends, no money and a job I hated.
But hey - my new job is in the financial district and I'm starting to see what all the fuss is about. Check out the view from the office window.
I still can't stand the loud-mouthed, over-confident City Boys who bray into their mobiles while I'm trying to do my crossword, but where else would you find a wonderful Japanese canteen next door to an amazing Dutch bar at the foot of a huge building shaped like a Gherkin ?

It's an interesting area round there too. It's the site of Bevis Marks Synagogue, the first one in England after the Jews were allowed back by Cromwell after 360-odd year of exile. And the Swiss Re building itself is on the site of a building damaged by an IRA attack ...
... which was rebuilt by the same company that gave me the job I hated way back in the '90s that made me hate London really quite a lot for a while.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I think we owe Stan a round of applause and/or a round of cider. He has successfully negotiated a year's worth of blogging without initiating any major world events or wars. No mean feat! He has commented on the need to right the wrongs being done all over the planet while I have sat on my own site moaning about neuropathy and the ineptness of Michael Owen. I feel like Homer Simpson..."soooo shallow".

More to the point, seeing I have the attention span of Dennis Thatcher (in his current state), I'm amazed he's managed to get me into the habit of checking his blog on a daily basis. Surely a sign of greater things to come.

I am, however, a little concerned that the empty/full gauge may fluctuate for a while seeing his beloved Bolton are knee-tremblingly close to losing it completely. They languish second from bottom (on goal difference with Derby) after what I can only call some disappointing football. Over the course of the season, I will be mapping Stan's optimism to Bolton results, and at the end of the season I shall publish a highly technical graph that will examine the effect of world events, Bolton results and Stan's level of optimism. Fret ye not -- Kenny is a layman so will spell the results out in non-mathematical jargon. For example, I will not be performing Fourier analysis, Laplace transforms or 12-point Gaussian quadrature on the data. Well I might, but be assured that I will shield you from the hell that I go through in the name of science.

In the meantime, let us raise our glasses of cloudy fermented apple-juice, bow in the direction of the Horn in St Albans and wish Stan a fruitful bloggy future. And some decent Bolton results.

May this inspire Flitcraft into a similar venture, or at least a guest post or two on here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Dyslexic Walks into a Bra

A man runs into a bar.
"Give me ten shots of your best malt whisky. Quick !"
The barmaid sets up the ten glasses.
The man starts drinking them down as fast as she can serve them.
The barmaid asks, "Why are you drinking so fast?"
"You'd drink fast too, if you had what I have."
The barmaid is shocked and whispers, "What is it you have?"
"Seventy pence."

That was for Father Stan, who is my dad and not the name of an extra from "Father Ted".

He thinks I've been a tad dreary on the Blog lately.

Maybe so, but I've been having a ball.

By contrast, I have been sporadically trying and regularly failing to write a comic novel since I was at University. It made me increasingly miserable to the point where I couldn't bear to look at it.

That was until the day I recycled all of the yellowing bits of paper and obliterated my laptop's hard-drive and got on with having fun rather than trying to be funny.

Now I've discovered blogging, and I genuinely enjoy the writing, even though the material is hardly Bob Monkhouse.

So, how is it that I can enjoy writing an Editorial but not a Sketch ?

And can anyone think of a Blog Name for my mum - Mother Stanella ?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bad Connection

There's a scene in the film "Jesus of Montreal" where the Christ-like actor is being tempted by his smooth-talking satanical lawyer high-up in an office block overlooking the big city. It's an unsubtle, but exquisitely achieved re-telling of the temptation of Christ atop the pinnacle from the Gospels, and a million times better than Mel Gibson's effort.

I have a lesser story of temptation in high-places to tell. A friend of mine (let's call him Stan) was working high up in a tower block in a major UK city. He had no access to his client's network and absolutely needed to check his email.

He looked at the large list of wi-fi networks accessible to his laptop and noted that a few of them had the default names for the market-leader suppliers of wireless routers and absolutely no security. He experimented and found that he could access his email through two of them. Free, gratis and for nothing.

Stan knows that this behaviour is actually illegal - the Communications Act 2003 says a "person who (a) dishonestly obtains an electronic communications service, and (b) does so with intent to avoid payment of a charge applicable to the provision of that service, is guilty of an offence".

To protect Stan, I won't reveal whether he did actually cave in to this temptation in the office. Personally, I don't see what harm he would have been doing (if he did). For all he knew, the routers could have been left open on purpose as a charitable gesture so that unconnected people could have internet access. It's an unlikely reason, but I'm struggling to think of any sensible reason for someone in this day and age leaving a wi-fi router open if they didn't want all and sundry connecting.

I had a chat with Stanetta about this over a Starbucks coffee this morning. She agrees that it's a complicated issue but seemed to be saying that taking anything without permission is wrong, even if the something is unwanted "leftovers". She was especially sure of this when I mentioned it was against a law and people had been arrested for it.

Put that way, I find it hard to justify this kind of behaviour, but then I do sometimes let my speed creep over the speed limit, sometimes park where I shouldn't, have been known to download the odd bit of free music and have photocopied books without permission. Does this make me a bad person ?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

One Year On

I've now been blogging for over a year here at Radio Free Stan.

Seems like yesterday I was making my first posting - getting irate about the lack of safety foam in Hercules planes. Since then this issue has certainly not gone away and in fact it has been revealed that the Nimrods are similarly afflicted.

Quickly passing over the other issues I chose to care about in September last year, it's remarkable how little has changed :-

* East European Immigration - turns out that instead of an expected 300,000 Bulgarian and Romanians, only 17,360 have arrived in the first half of the year. Far from keeping them out, it looks like we might have to advertise to get them over.

* Radical Muslims - not able to be quite as mouthy, being subject to some sneaky but broadly necessary new laws. Last I heard, the talentless scrote Abu Izzadeen I had a problem with was remanded in custody waiting for a hearing sometime soon, accused of raising money for terrorism.

* Richard Hammond - made a full recovery. Teeth not even stained.

* Gordon Brown finally took over - I'm prepared to accept he's the best of the party leaders just now, but the Thatcher pics really shook me. The chances of my rejoining the Labour Party are laughable. I will instead continue to be an independent leftie bleeding-heart commie fag subversive.

* Tiscali - binned them and am now paying more for a better BT service.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't Tase Me, Man

OK, so this is the situation. In the same week that I waxed lyrical about the American Constitution and the enviable First Amendment, an over-enthusiastic student was bundled away and shot with a Taser gun by Florida campus police at a John Kerry yawn-athon .

Campus police in the US (where else do they even need Campus police??) seem to be big on Tasering people they think need a good Tasering. Last year an Iranian-American student was tasered at UCLA for the crime of "Failing to Produce ID at the Library while Asian".

Now, the guy in Florida was obviously being a smart-alec jerk - trying to get some publicity and generally indulging in activities designed to make his mum cry. None of these activities are crimes, and all of them are pretty standard for a student. There have been attempts by the authorities to push blame on the man, but the beauty of the 21st Century is that video from as many as five different camera angles is available on You Tube so that you can make your own mind up about where the blame might lie.

From viewing the films, I take the view that he was no danger to anyone - the Cops should have called for back-up if the four or so of them weren't competent to remove him. Then they should have charged him with resisting arrest.

That's assuming he was actually under arrest. As I understand it, the police have to read him his Miranda rights and actually tell him what he's being arrested for. I've seen the footage a few time and I can't hear any evidence of any of this going on. Assuming he were under arrest though, he should have gone with the police when instructed and then availed himself of the criminal justice system where his lawyer would no doubt have invoked his rights under the various Constitutional Amendments.

I've got to this point in the posting and I'm not clear what my point is. All I can say is that it's at least one of the following :-

(1) Me : I'm still in awe of the US Constitution, despite recent events. To blame the Constitution would be like saying that widespread Neighbour's Ass Coveting reflects badly on the Ten Commandments.

(2) Police : don't hurt people that are no danger to anyone where there are more civilised, if longer-winded, alternatives available.

(3) Police (supplemental) : spend more time at the gym - you outnumbered this guy at least four to one and you still couldn't get him out of the hall without zapping him.

(4) Mouthy student : keep asking the hard questions, but live within the law.

And with that, I'm going to get a sandwich.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Robust Constitution

There's a suggestion that instead of drafting a Constitution for Iraq, they should take over the American Constitution.

After all, it was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years and the Americans aren't using it anymore ...

I'm a big fan of the United States Constitution, ratified by the Grand Convention at Philadelphia this day 220 years ago. I know it's a deeply flawed document, but I'm blown away by its sheer audacity.

How great is this :

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Notice the phrase "more perfect". Here are lawmakers admitting that here is something that has flaws, but is an improvement. You don't see that kind of honesty in modern politicians.

Note also the phrase "establish Justice" - how is that for an item on a to-do list ! Here is a government with ambition.

And finally the phrase "we the people". Not "we the government". They are writing a mission-statement for everyone in the entire new, unruly, divided, dynamic country.

The many compromises over slavery are abhorrent and the fact that it has been amended 27 times shows us that it was far from comprehensive. But it was a different world in 1787 - nobody had ever tried to frame a written constitution for a democracy before, and I don't think they had such a bad swing at it.

In fact, as a Brit I'm jealous of it. Any American schoolkid could say where their right to Free Speech is protected (First Amendment), but in Britain you'd have to be a specialist lawyer. The fact is, I don't know to this day whether or not Freedom of Speech is actually protected here.

Not that the Constitution did such a great job protecting the rights of the people at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, but you can't blame the Framers if the current guardians of the Constitution aren't up to the job.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blue Greenery

Yes, I have now finally read every word of the 549 pages of the Conservatives' Blueprint for a Green Economy. Even the "Executive Summary" is 22 pages long.

Why ? Because I'm a bit of a geek and I wanted to see whether they were really proposing that we remove the white lines from roads in the hope that when this causes us to drive more carefully, it will save fuel. I think the following suggests they do :-

The overzealous interpretation of road signs regulation has led to a proliferation of signs that are aesthetically unappealing and can actually reduce road safety through distracting visual clutter. The Streetscape and Highways Design Bill, tabled by Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Duncan MP, would require highways authorities to ensure signs do not cause unnecessary visual intrusion, while still providing appropriate information. We believe that this should form the basis of amending legislation. We also propose pilot schemes to see how far rural road safety is improved by the increasing use of road marking and additional signs. Experiments elsewhere have suggested that motorists drive more carefully where there is no white lining and only exiguous signing. Proper science would enable more effective decision making.

The authors obviously have never driven down a road after it is resurfaced and before it is re-lined. People drive like morons and car-crashes are not environmentally-friendly.

The whole of the document is written in the style of the above excerpt - big monolithic paragraphs with gratuitously flowery vocabulary (I had to look up "exiguous", for example).

It also drifts off the point that the world is going to hell in a handbasket and we need to act fast to save it. Instead the authors pontificate on every aspect of policy, even the stuff that should be part of their day job e.g "Making Britain’s food and farming the best in the world"

I recognise the two-step approach noted by Scott Adams in relation to Quality Management :-

(1) Make a Honking Big Binder.
(2) Then treat it like a dead raccoon.

The Tories can point to the HBB (Honking Big Binder) and say that they have a "green" policy. They can then safely avoid doing anything that it says.

Incidentally, another gaffe in my opinion is the idea that VAT should be levied on flights. This is wrong, as companies can reclaim VAT and so no extra revenue will achieved and it won't be much of a disincentive. They should either make it a separate tax, or at least make sure this VAT is never recoverable.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Balls to the King

Had a pleasant afternoon watching Shakespeare's Henry V at the Manchester Royal Exchange. Loved the cheek of the French for sending him tennis balls when he asked for the throne of France. Wish it had actually happened that way, but that particular detail was a genius invention from the Bard. In reality, the French would have been too scared of Henry to take the mickey like that.

Speaking of balls and the monarchy, The Archbishop of Canterbury has declared that Prince Charles must be defender of THE faith, and not faith in general.

Some questions :-

(1) Just how stupid would Charles look being the defender of religions he doesn't believe in ?
Such as when he's defending Islam, Hari Krishna, Rastafarianism and my Atheism for example. Personally, anything that needs a chinless-wonder to defend it isn't worth protecting.

(2) Just why does the Church of England need to be saved ?
That religion has a majority in both Houses of Parliament, the Judiciary, the Police and the Armed Forces. It is not in any danger.

(3) Which Church of England needs to be saved ?
The new back-to-basics homophobic African-influenced version, or the liberal native English one. And what about the churches of Wales and Scotland ? He would after all be the British king.

I really don't think Henry V would have tolerated posturing like this by his head churchman. He should know his place, which is head of a Protestant sect and not someone who lays down national policy. That's not even the King's job any more.

It's obvious that Rowan Williams is falling over himself to be hard-core because he's scared he's going to lose half his church to the extremists. I wonder what kind of extremist-friendly claptrap is going to come from Lambeth Palace in the coming weeks.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Conviction Politician

Gordon Brown has praised Margaret Thatcher for being a "Conviction Politician".

I'd agree, but in my world once I'd convicted her, I'd pack her off to prison.

Are we in a situation like in Russia where old folk long for the return of Stalin, because they forget just how horrid he was ?

Is Maggie undergoing a postmodern retrospective where she is portrayed as something other than a tyrannical fruitcake with a Napoleon complex, from whose damaging reign this country is still failing to recover ?

If that weren't enough it seems New (so-called) Labour is also employing her old advertising guru, Lord Smarmy Up-Himself Saatchi.

New Labour is becoming the Anti-Labour in a way that reminds me of a Woody Allen joke :-

We were married by a reformed rabbi in Long Island.
A very reformed rabbi.
A Nazi.

Spread the Word

Sometimes I feel I should be a more typical blogger and announce every last little thing that's going on in my life, down to what I had for breakfast that morning.

So let's start with what I had for breakfast this morning.

Marmite on wholemeal toast with tea.

I apologise that I don't have pictures of the event to attach here or video to post on youtube. Mrs. Stan and Stanetta are the only witnesses to the event, and they didn't get a great look because they hate the smell and stood well back.

Marmite is an anomaly. From a country with such a bland food heritage comes something that 20% of people like, 80% hate and 0% are neutral.

If you have time, watch this piece on Youtube for an enhaustive description for foreigners of what Marmite is.

For those of you who only have time for the Executive Overview, it is either :-

(a) something that smells like you've been scratching your bottom and looks like something you'd find on the bottom of your shoe.


(b) a tangy salty yeasty spread that's the best thing to happen to sliced bread since sliced bread.

It seems odd that the product actually needs to be advertised, you would have thought that word-of-mouth would have either attracted or put-off everyone in the UK by now. However, advertise the Marmite people do, and they do it rather well. Very funny pieces based around the fact that some people love it, most people hate it.

The latest one of these adverts is to make use of Paddington bear, who will replace his traditional marmalade sandwich for you-guessed-it and cheese. I'm sure the purists will think this sacrilege.


Right, so that's breakfast well and truly blogged. Unfortunately there's no time to blog any of the rest of my day.

Same time tomorrow ?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Living in a Box

It seems this old couple have spent over 20 years and £100,000 living at Travelodge budget motels, despite owning their own home.

I travel a lot on business, and I'm responsible for booking (and paying for) my own accomodation. More often than not I also take the budget motel approach. Let's look at the reasons why I would stay at a 4 star hotel instead, which is the approach favoured by the larger consultancies for housing their staff :-

* Pool/gym etc. - I find I rarely get to use these facilities. I'm a slow riser, so morning is out. At night I'm either working late or socialising. Which means I get back too late or too full to partake.

* Room service - expensive and poor quality. If you really want a badly prepared club sandwich, you can usually get one down in the bar or in a near-by restaurant. This does eliminate the joy of eating your dinner in front of the TV in your underwear, but the same effect can be achieved by bringing a poor quality Chinese take-out back to your room.

* Laundry service - does anyone ever use this ? It seems you can double the cost of your stay this way. I guess that's only an issue if you're paying the bill. For the rest of us, if you're too lazy to bring spare clothing, there is some innocent joy to be had in washing your pants in the bath and leaving them to drip-dry overnight, with a final blow-dry with the complimentary hair-dryer in the morning. Hotel-based consultants will never know the exquisite feeling of stepping into freshly hot-aired pants on a cold morning.

* Reception desk - maybe if you were staying in a strange country and needed directions or someone to call you a cab these people would be useful. As it is, you only speak to them on checking in and again on checking-out. At a budget motel you only speak to them on checking-in as there is no checking-out : you just leave.

And then there are the positive reasons for choosing a budget motel

* Cost - the big one : there's no point spending all that time on the road if you aren't going to turn a profit.

* Convenience - easy on-line booking and cancellation. Parking often free and plentiful.

* Fun - a significant percentage of people staying have come to have sex with someone they shouldn't. I love watching people in the bar and trying to guess what their story is. Secretary and boss. Lady Sales Director and Boy Toy. Married, but not to each other. Hours of harmless enjoyment.

I will admit to there being drawbacks :-

* Location - They are often sited hell-and-gone from where you need to be, in the style of Glasgow (?) Prestwick and Frankfurt (ha, blooming ha) Hahn airports. For example, the "St. Albans" Travelinn is an irritating 40 minute drive from the centre of St.Albans in the morning rush.

* Food - the nearby facility will be a chain pub with cardboard almost-food or a Little Chef. These places are unable to cook so much as a burger properly, and you will drink too much generic beer to cover the taste. I usually end up driving to the nearest town and loading up the passenger footwell with takeout curry. This would probably be unacceptable if I were using the company Mondeo on business. It is near impossible to eat anything close to a sensible diet living this way. This is my favoured excuse for my excessive belly anyway.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Freaks and Mutants

The title of this posting reflects my life-long animosity to Rugby Union. I've never numbered a rugby player among my friends and it seems that all you need for success in the game is to be built like Shrek.

It was a surprise therefore that I found myself enjoying the recent France vs. Argentina game.

Mostly it was the power of the Argentine defence - there was one particular passage of play where they held France inches from their line, repulsing wave after wave of increasing desperate French pressure.

And to say the French are big lads is understating the issue. Included in the side that couldn't breach the Argentine line was Sébastien Chabal who plays for my local team the Sale Sharks.

Imagine a cross between Eric Cantona, a Highland Bull and a freight train and you're most of the way there. Hats off to anyone who fancies making it their job to take the ball off him.

So, I'm willing to give televised Rugby a chance. Although I don't imagine I'll be a regular at Edgeley Park watching the Sharks. It is after all a poor substitute for real football.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Stan's Cabinet

The appointment of my favourite TV childcare expert, Dr. Tanya Byron, to head a government enquiry has set me thinking.

Why not go all the way and ignore politicians totally and recruit TV personalities when making government appointments ?

For example, the following will assume the key roles in my cabinet should I be swept to power anytime soon :-

Chancellor : Anna Chancellor. I'm not sure if she knows much about Finance, but I'm rubbish at remembering names, so having a Chancellor called Chancellor will help me a lot.

Foreign Secretary : Michael Palin. He's likely to be abroad filming anyway, so it would save money if he could just pop in and do a bit of schmoozing on the way to the airport.

Home Secretary : Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie. More of a "How Clean is Your Home" Secretary, but I'm sure if anyone can clean up the mess at the Home Office, it's them.

Secretary of State for Scotland, Women and Children : Wee Jimmy Krankie. Unrivalled experience of being Scottish, a woman and a child.

Chief Whip : Indiana Jones. Already knows how to use a whip, so can do the job from Day 1.

Minister of Transport : Jeremy Clarkson. I'd love to see what he'd come up. 140mph minimum speed limits on the M1? Worth it just to see him screech up outside Number 10 in his Ministerial Lamborghini.

Minister of Silly Walks : John Cleese, obviously. The Minster of Silly Walks will be given a wide remit as a "Cabinet Enforcer". And that's a sane idea compared to putting John Prescott in the cabinet.

Vote Stan.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Radio Free Stan Play List

I'm sure you can tell a lot about a person by checking out what's on their Ipod.

What can you tell about Stan from this lot ?

Dead Bodies Air
La Femme d'Argent Air
Le Voyage de Penelope Air
Let's Stay Together Al Green
Hand In My Pocket Alanis Morissette
Piano & I Alicia Keys
Back To Black Amy Winehouse
Help Yourself Amy Winehouse
Rehab Amy Winehouse
Stronger Than Me (Intro) Amy Winehouse
You Know I'm No Good Amy Winehouse
I'm Outta Love Anastacia
A Certain Romance Arctic Monkeys
Fluorescent Adolescent Arctic Monkeys
From The Ritz To The Rubble Arctic Monkeys
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor Arctic Monkeys
You know I'm No Good Arctic Monkeys
Movin' Too Fast (New Version) Artful Dodger
9pm (Till I Come) ATB
Bankrobber Audioweb
Oh My Gosh Basement Jaxx Feat. Vula Malinga
Play Dead Björk
Let's Get It Started Black Eyed Peas
Shut Up Black Eyed Peas
Paranoid Black Sabbath
Heart Of Glass Blondie
One Way Or Another Blondie
Song 2 Blur
This Is A Low Blur
Across 110th Street Bobby Womack
Baby One More Time Britney Spears
Toxic Britney Spears
Chan Chan Buena Vista Social Club
North Country Boy Charlatans
Brimful Of Asha Cornershop
7 Days Craig David
Rewind Craig David
Walking Away Craig David
TAKE FIVE Dave Brubeck
Survivor Destiny's Child
Here With Me Dido
Thank You Dido
Once Upon A Time In The West Dire Straits
Days Go By Dirty Vegas
Forgot About Dre Dr. Dre Feat. Eminem
God Protect Your Soul Ed Harcourt
Mr. Blue Sky Electric Light Orchestra
Turn To Stone Electric Light Orchestra
Real Slim Shady Eminem
Clare Fairground Attraction
Perfect Fairground Attraction
The Moon Is Mine Fairground Attraction
God Is A DJ Faithless
I Want More, Part 2 Faithless
Mass Destruction (P*Nut & Sister Bliss Mix) Faithless
Take The Long Way Home Faithless
Tarantula Faithless
We Come Faithless
Why Go? Faithless
40' Franz Ferdinand
Jacqueline Franz Ferdinand
Take Me Out Franz Ferdinand
This Fire Franz Ferdinand
Scooby Snacks Fun Lovin' Criminals
Milk (Wicked Mix- Featuring Tricky) Garbage
Little Green Bag George Baker Selection
Crazy Gnarls Barkley
Lovely Head Goldfrapp
Strict Machine Goldfrapp
Get Myself Arrested Gomez
Whippin' Picadilly Gomez
Clint Eastwood Gorillaz
Clint Eastwood (Ed Case Mix) Gorillaz
Feel Good Inc. Gorillaz
Patio Song Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
Edge Hill Groove Armada
Superstylin' Groove Armada
Hollaback Girl Gwen Stefani
Kinky Afro Happy Mondays
Step On Happy Mondays
Cash Machine Hard-Fi
Daydream In Blue I Monster
Lust For Life Iggy Pop
The Passenger Iggy Pop
Right To Be Wrong Joss Stone
You Had Me Joss Stone
I Predict A Riot Kaiser Chiefs
Na Na Na Na Naa Kaiser Chiefs
Oh My God Kaiser Chiefs
L.S.F (Lost Souls Forever) Kasabian
Black Horse And The Cherry Tree KT Tunstall
Govinda Kula Shaker
Tattva Kula Shaker
Can't Fight The Moonlight Leann Rimes
Phat Planet Leftfield
Hung Up Madonna
Sorry Madonna
Je Ne T'Aime Plus Manu Chao
Sunday Morning Maroon 5
This Love Maroon 5
Angel Massive Attack
Fake The Aroma Massive Attack
Karmacoma Massive Attack
Teardrop Massive Attack
Mad World Michael Andrews Feat. Gary Jules
Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? Moby
Apocalypse Please Muse
Exo-Politics Muse
Hysteria Muse
Knights Of Cydonia Muse
Muscle Museum - Muse Muse
Sing For Absolution Muse
Supermassive Black Hole Muse
Time Is Running Out Muse
These Words Natasha Bedingfield
Turn Off The Light Nelly Furtado
Blue Monday New Order
How You Remind Me Nickelback
About A Girl Nirvana
Something In The Way Nirvana
The Man Who Sold The World Nirvana
Where Did You Sleep Last Night Nirvana
Don't Speak No Doubt
Excuse Me Mr. No Doubt
Ex-Girlfriend No Doubt
Just A Girl No Doubt
Live Forever Oasis
The Masterplan Oasis
Wild Wood Paul Weller
Eclipse Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here Pink Floyd
A Place Called Home PJ Harvey
C'mon Billy PJ Harvey
Sour Times Portishead
Theme from "To Kill a Dead Man" Portishead
Wandering Star Portishead
When Doves Cry Prince
Common People Pulp
Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
Losing My Religion R.E.M.
Creep Radiohead
Fake Plastic Trees Radiohead
High And Dry Radiohead
Idioteque Radiohead
Karma Police Radiohead
No Surprises Radiohead
Paranoid Android Radiohead
Street Spirit Radiohead
Street Spirit (Fade Out) Radiohead
The Bends Radiohead
The National Anthem Radiohead
There There Radiohead
Golden Touch Razorlight
Somewhere Else Razorlight
Up All Night Razorlight
Californication Red Hot Chili Peppers
Easily Red Hot Chili Peppers
Parallel Universe Red Hot Chili Peppers
Road Trippin' Red Hot Chili Peppers
Place Your Hands Reef
Break The Night With Colour Richard Ashcroft
Clubbed To Death (Kurayamino Variation) Rob Dougan
Furious Angels Rob Dougan
Children (Dream Version) Robert Miles
I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) Sandi Thom
Smooth Santana Feat. Rob Thomas
To The Moon & Back Savage Garden
Laura Scissor Sisters
Secret Smile Semisonic
(Mocho Mambo) Sway Shaft
Twisted Skunk Anansie
Twisted 'Everyday Hurts' [Radio 1 Session] Skunk Anansie
Coz I love You Slade
Walkin' On The Sun Smash Mouth
Run Snow Patrol
Tainted Love (7" Single Version) Soft Cell
It Feels So Good Sonique
Neighbourhood Space
Beautiful Crazy Space Raiders
Black Coffee St Germain - Patricia Kaas
Alcoholic Starsailor
Tie Up My Hands Starsailor
Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing Stevie Wonder
Beautiful Ones Suede
Filmstar Suede
Grace Supergrass
Moving Supergrass
Tatu - All The Things She Said t.A.T.u.
Psycho Killer Talking Heads
Blackbird The Beatles
While My Guitar Gently Weeps The Beatles
The Bad Touch The Bloodhound Gang
Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) The Buzzcocks
The Big Jump The Chemical Brothers
Do You Realise? The Flaming Lips
Ready Or Not The Fugees
History Song The Good, The Bad & The Queen
Mornings Eleven The Magic Numbers
Lazy Lover The Supernaturals
Havana Gang Brawl The Zutons
Achilles Heel Toploader
Dancing In The Moonlight Toploader
I Don't Like Mondays Tori Amos
Professional Widow Tori Amos
Hit Me Baby One More Time Travis
Side Travis
Overcome Tricky
Long Distance Turin Brakes
Underdog (Save Me) Turin Brakes
One U2
Follow Me Uncle Kracker
Born Slippy (Nuxx) Underworld
Days Like This Van Morrison
Moondance Van Morrison
Fell in Love With a Girl White Stripes
Seven Nation Army White Stripes

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bad Artists

I've been thinking a lot about this recent piece on BBC Online.

It seems that the paedophile Brian Davey was also a talented music teacher whose books for the Recorder are held in high esteem. His victims though are demanding that the books be removed from schools and from general sale.

I've never been much interested in artists - to me the art is everything and stands in its own right well after the artist is dead and gone. I don't care if the artist is a ginger-haired fascist with a tulip fetish or a miserable librarian from Hull - all that really matters is whether they produce anything of merit.

I'm certainly not going to stop watching "The Thick of It" because of what I know about Chris Langham's off-screen life. The reasons I don't listen to Gary Glitter's records are very little to do with his well-documented peccadilloes.

It seems unfair to me that a successful or famous paedophile be punished more than a dropout nobody. Brian Davey is doing 13 years for his dreadful crimes and I would hope that a less talented man found guilty of the same crimes would have got the same 13 years.

Chris Langham comes up for sentencing next week - should be a good test of whether sentencing is truly even-handed.

Artistic considerations should never influence the judge's sentencing decision, and Art should not be judged by its creator's moral flaws.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bland of the Year

I like the Mercury prize. I'm lazy and I rely on the annual compilation album to point me towards my roughly-one-CD-per-year that I'll pay full-price for.

This year's was quite a mixture - well, a mixture of the incandescently talented Amy Winehouse, a disappointing Arctic Monkeys album, the token Classical act (Basquiat Strings), the token Jazz act (also Basquiat Strings - I'll explain later) and the usual Halls-of-Residence/Festival fodder.

Was it really a surprise that the blandest act of all won the day ? Good job McFly broke up or they might have scooped the prize this year ...

The best song from the Klaxon's album "Myths of the Near Future" is "Goldens Skans" which is at best a moderately distracting piece of guitar pop with chord progressions that are pure Coldplay (and how un-credible is that !). There is nothing fresh, new or at all interesting about their sound.

Let's compare with Basquiat Strings, a classical string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) with a jazz rhythm section (double bass and drums). There is more invention in one bar of their music than in whole tracks by Klaxons. Listen here if you don't believe me.

So, I would have chosen Amy Winehouse to win the Mercury Prize, for her all-round brilliance (sorry, gushing again) but since I already have a copy of "Back to Black", I'm off to buy the Basquiat Strings album.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A good retreat is better than a bad stand

The British are leaving Basra and I couldn't be more pleased. The point has long passed when they were actually helping the situation. Let's get them to a place of safety and work on a Plan B - one relying on more than just blokes with guns preferably.

You couldn't pay me enough to be a soldier. The idea of having to risk my life to implement the flawed strategies of clueless politicians - sod that for a game of soldiers indeed.

I'm braced waiting for the American response - I'm sure we're going to be called some variant on "Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys". But that's unfair - the British have paid a heavy price for standing toe-to-toe with the Americans : is it really a surprise that after four years, significant loss of life and a change of government, we no longer agree on how to proceed.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Another Open Letter to Amy Winehouse

Dear Amy Winehouse,

I know there have been many, many open letters in various publications pleading you to get help for your many addictions, but I feel compelled to write yet one more.

I'm a flabby 40-something with laughable street-credibility and zero insight into substance addiction, so my voice carries little weight with you I'm sure. I am however a huge fan of yours, and I know enough about music to know that a talent like yours comes along once or twice a generation.

I'm not writing for myself. I'm writing for my 11-year old daughter. In five years time I want her to be listening to your fifth or sixth albums, and begging me for a loan of "Back to Black" and "Frank".

The way you are going, however, I fear you will be dead by then or addled to the point of artlessness.

You are soon to celebrate your 24th birthday. I've lived almost twice as long - and one thing I can tell you is that potential is nothing : performance is everything. I've seen talented people crash and burn, and watched only the mediocre succeed.

For the good of everyone, for once I want such massive potential as yours to be realised. I really don't know how good you can get over time - you can definitely be even better than you are today. Your work to date will still get airplay in twenty years I'm sure - the work you can produce in the next five could very well put you on a par with The Beatles, The Stones and Elvis - still relevant and still exciting thirty years on.

Speaking of The Rolling Stones - they've been pretty ordinary since 1973 ("Angie" etc.), and that's drug related. Drugs make you ordinary and an object of pity.

I remember seeing an interview with you just after the Mercury nomination for "Frank" in 2004. I was reminded of interviews with the young Mick Jagger - incandescently intelligent and with enough energy and charisma to light up London.

I do sincerely hope you find someone experienced and smart to talk to. I don't want you going the same way as Mick Jagger. I was 7 when he stopped being any damn good, and I've been cheated of a puberty's worth of great music as a result.

All the best with your battle, and I hope you find happiness without self-destruction.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Long Ago Was the Winter of our Discontent

At least twice in the last week, The Guardian has compared the current slightly flaky Industrial Relations climate with the 1978/9 "Winter of Discontent".

This is the same kind of lazy writing where slightly bossy people are compared to Hitler or where space probes are always compared in size to kitchen appliances.

The situation in this country at the end of the 1970s had a post-nuclear feel :-

* Corpses piling up in Liverpool due to gravedigger strikes, with plans for mass burials at sea.

* Fuel for "emergency" use only, and panels of union members defining what that should be in each area.

* Rubbish not collected for months, with big rotting piles of the stuff in Leicester Square (picture).

* Emergency ambulance service suspended, with the army having to provide some kind of service.

* An appetite for striking such that Union leaders had little control over when strikes started, and in many cases could not bring their members back to work once agreement had been reached.

Does anyone really think this sounds like something that could happen in the UK in 2007 ? Sure, we do have problems, but surely not of the spiralling-into-anarchy variety.

The current problems are likely to be easily smoothed over by the application of a modest amount of money.

You read it here first : Winter 2007/8 is not going to have 30 million lost working days due to strikes, and the government will not fall. There will be only a thin layer of fast-food containers on Leicester Square.