Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Evidently Chickentown

Above all other TV shows, I love The Sopranos.

Sadly I fluffed up the timer on our DVD recorder so we missed the first of the final 9 episodes which was shown last Sunday whilst we were away in Scotland, taping instead the incredibly unfunny Phone Jacker and Big Brother's Big Mouth. As I'm sure you'll agree these are in no way shape or form a suitable replacement for Big Tony and his merry band of Italian American hoods.

Sadly though, whist in New York I did accidentally learn of a major plot development whilst skipping through the plethora of US TV channels. This has haunted me somewhat and has tainted my enjoyment of, what is in my uninformed opinion; the greatest TV program in TV History...or certainly the greatest US TV series.

I've always been a fan of the music they put into the show too, a large portion of which hail from these shores and come from a variety of lesser known artists. I can recall with head swelling pride when Tony had his first breakdown; James Gandolfini is sat in his customary dressing gown and white vest with tears streaming down his fat face, all the while Stuart Staple's bleak and unmistakable (and utter perfect) voice warbles tenderly on Tindersticks' 'Tiny Tears'.
I can also remember Mogwai's ‘Cody’ being played in another similar moment of emotional high drama; though this is possibly my least favorite Mogwai track ever- but you can’t have everything (this was possibly because when the record ‘Come on Die Young’ was released the idea of Stuart Braithwaite attempting to sing was, in my snobbish mind anyway, an act of heresy)

In the last episode, as Tony is reflecting his relationship with Chris in his physiatrist- Dr. Melfi's office, a bizarre voice started to emanated from our TV set as the credits start.

“Wait a minute...surely not?”

I looked to Lisa who was frowning knowing that she recognised the unmistakably broad Mancunian drawl.

Holy shit! It's John Cooper Clarke's 'Evidently Chickentown'.

We both laughed that an artist as obscure as him could make it onto a show of such a high stature.

I felt as if a friend of mine had 'made it' to the big time and we both hoped that he was significantly financial rewarded for his endeavors.

I'm sure that over the past 9 or so seasons of The Sopranos there has been many, many musical highlights, but surely you can't top a bit of ole Johnny Clarke can you?


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

(New) Captain of industry

I awoke this morning in an unusually pleasant frame of mind and a full-to-bursting bladder. The bright sunshine seeped through our bedroom curtains and it felt good to be alive. Awakening early as I did, I decided to make haste, ensuring this peculiar feeling of contentment and enthusiasm was not wasted and good golly Miss Molly- I was in work some twenty minutes early!

My punctuality was noted by some of the more observant fellow shlums and after the rudimentary pleasantries were exchanged with colleagues, I set about getting straight to work choosing to forgo my usual internet surfing. All the outstanding work that had taunted me from my desk for the past few months was irradiated in what can only be described as a Herculean blitz of professionalism. One by one the tower stack of orange files that lay dormant on my pine workstation slowly disappeared. When beverages were offered by some kind hearted souls in the office, I barely made eye contact- only enough to convey my gratitude so resolute was my conviction to bust my hump. After dealing with the conveyancing reports of several proposed acquisitions, hunger pains taunted my focused and determined mind. I chose to ignore these urges, lambasting my weak body for such cravings- assuring my growling stomach that lunch wasn't too far away. I called solicitors and surveyors and was firm and direct with my slew of requests as opposed to my more customary laid back and thoroughly affable approach.

Between manically typing up purchase reports and amending spreadsheets accordingly I reached to my left and grabbed my tea mug without averting my gaze from the numbers and names that I was scrolling through on my computer's monitor, taking giant gulps from my now tepid tea. It wasn't long before my energy levels started to flag. I was pragmatic about this decline; after all I wasn't used to this.

I permitted myself to gaze idly out of the office's window at the beautiful and awe inspiring perfect blue sky before putting my head down and continuing with my tasks. When my phone rang, I answered it in my usual eloquent manner, but continued to crunch the numbers whilst still effectively and professionally dealing with the call.

Soon my shirt's top button was unfastened and my sleeves were rolled up. I felt like a captain of industry. I felt like I could accomplish anything. I felt of use.

I looked at the clock to see if I'd missed my lunch break.

It was 9:20am.


I had effectively done all my work for the week and the realisation that the rest of the day would now drag like the proverbial motherfucker. What have I done?!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Knee class blues

I made my knee rehabilitation class debut last Friday morning and I'm fairly proud of the fact that my operation scar is far bigger than anyone else's.

I did have to haul my weary carcass out of bed nearly an hour before I usually have to get up which I wasn't too enamored with. I then had to walk twenty minutes to catch the bus full of over exuberant school kids that takes me near to Broadgreen Hospital, whereupon I have a 10 -15 minute walk to get to physiotherapy department. When I arrived I was already perspiring and slightly red in the face.

Luckily I managed to catch the bus with seconds to spare. Relief!

My joy at catching this bus was short lived was. I walked onto the bus behind the giddy schoolies and I noticed that I only had a tenner on me. I apologised to the driver for not having any better change. He looked at me through his despondent and possibly hung over eyes and seethed:
"I can't change that!"
"(SIGH) What time are you departing?"
"Right now- you better buy some'ink from der shop; I'll pick you up by the traffic lights."

I hobbled off the bus and with my bag weighing me down tried to get to the nearby newsagents as quickly as I could, knowing that the next bus was not for another 30 minutes. Because my bag was heavy my limp was more prominent than usual, and of course I slightly exaggerated it for the benefit of the unhelpful bus driver.

The shop- which is only a stone's throw away from the bus stop- was teeming with school children of a variety of different size and age in a multitude of different coloured uniforms. I fought my way to the counter with a bottle of water and paid and pushed my way back through the kids just as the bus was pulling up at the traffic lights. I paid the driver and thanked him for waiting though this was an insincere display of gratitude, but definitely not one laden with sarcasm. My MP3 player tossed out some tunes at random and included Jarvis' astutely witty 'Fat Children' , which I listened to with a wry smile on my face as I watched the lawless teens run amok on the bus scoffing their McCoys' crisp at 8.15am.

The class was good and I certainly felt the benefits from the knee exercises the two semi-attractive and fake tanned physios had prepared for us.

It was fairly evident from the start that I was the 'new boy' as everyone knew exactly what exercises to do. I looked on with wide eyed envy at the exercises I could only dream of doing i.e. shuttle runs and the trampoline. The vast majority of the fellow post operation classmates were attired fittingly and wouldn't have looked out of place in a gym or running a marathon perhaps. I on the other hand looked as if I hadn't done any exercise since the 1980s. My spurs shorts looked faded and probably showed too much flesh, my GAP hoodie was taken off within five minutes due to the perspiration revealing a cheap (but most adored) Gaudi tourist T-Shirt my folks brought back for me from Barcelona 6 years ago. I had black office socks rolled down my leg as far as I could and I tried my utmost to conceal them within my trainers with little success. The class reminded me of a Police Academy style group of misfits and as I warmed up on the exercise bike I looked around identifying the rich tapestry of character types. There was the loud mouth, the brute, the comic, the pretty boy, the old guy, the wacky one, the quiet one (also the only woman), the hippie, the token chap from an ethnic minority, the arse kisser, the rough neck, the over exuberant and generic extras who just faded into the background. I wondered which I could be considering that most of the positions I am usually associated with were already taken. I figured that I'll just see how it pans out before labelling myself to fill a character void.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I'm sitting down, enjoying my holiday

Whilst on a Withnail & I theme (as per my last post) I’ve had a rejuvenating weekend in the country whilst in attendance at Scotland’s newest Festival; The Connect Festival, Inverneshire, last weekend and once more today I must feel the short stabbing pains of displeasure at yet another monumentally depressing morning as I return to work after an enjoyable few days of annual leave. Whilst unhappy that after such a fine weekend I must once more return to this soul sapping office environment I do feel strangely pragmatic and upbeat- and dare I say: positive.

As something of a music festival veteran and connoisseur of sorts (tongue firmly in cheek whilst I typed that I assure you) it’s got be said that with the exception of the ankle deep mud which made walking about the site a tad hazardous (especially for someone with a not-so-stable knee as myself) it was possibly the finest festival I’ve attended in the UK. Not only was the music choice on display an excellent, if not slightly eclectic mix of old and new, the surrounding picturesque views of the Scottish countryside (which if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to see then you must agree there is no where as beautiful in the world) but possibly its finest asset was the incredibly friendly atmosphere provided by the other revellers in attendance; perhaps a result of the unusually high quality food and drinks on offer (Organic food stalls and a mouth watering selection of ‘real ales’). Usually at our annual trip to the Leeds Festival, I do spent a large portion of my time muttering “tosser” under my breath at the antics of some of the fuckwits whom attend and annoy me, and I am usually left bemused at the frequent number of Randoms* sporting black painted fingernails asking me if I’d seen a generic Emo/Crap Punk Band and that I “should” check them out (though as soon as someone tells me I should listen/read/watch something I tend to get unnecessarily irked at the audacity of folks whom assume that by listening/reading/watching something will significantly benefit me. This usually results in a rather sarcastic response from yours truly along the lines of “why the fuck should I?”. After all if someone was to say “you should do more exercise” or “you should check your testicles for lumps” then I can see the importance and can fully accept the use of the phrase), though nearly everyone I encountered last weekend was of a most pleasant disposition.

So what about the Music eh?

Well highlights would have to be Seasick Steve, CSS, Jarvis, Emma Pollock, Bat for Lashes, The Beastie Boys, Teenage Fanclub, LCD Soundsystem, James Yorkston, Mogwai, Regina Spektor and Polyphonic Spree.

Primal scream were pretty good too, but was overshadowed somewhat by bass player Mani getting smacked full on in the face, by a pint of beer that had been hurled with some venom from a crack shot in the audience. Perhaps it was someone who had been unfortunate enough to have witnessed one of his DJ sets? He wasn’t amused, and bravely invited the guilty party on stage where he would (and I quote) “break his fucking nose”.

Now I don’t agree that people should e able to get away with throwing stuff at bands on stage, especially liquids (though I would rather get hit by a pint of beer than half a pint of piss) but because the crowd in Liverpool where we saw Primal Scream earlier in the year (read my blog about it here did exactly the same thing. Is there some underlying reasoning behind throwing pints a Mani? Answers on a postcard please (and please I know he IS a twat)…

* Randoms- Stranger at a festival who will engage you in affable conversation. Whist at the festival I overheard someone ask her friend if as to the whereabouts of a pal of theirs. Her response was “Oh there she is. She’s talking to a random”.