// February 2009
The music at the gym tends to fall into one of two categories: of the moment, cool chart pop (mainly indie) or donking thumping dance tracks. And whilst occasionally I find something of interest in the former category, the latter is one I despise utterly and so – when not with the sadist – I am to be found plugged into the JesusPhone.
Of course when I am with the sadist I have to listen to him (not that he believes for one minute I do) so I get subjected to the music from time to time.
On Thursday though, to my delight and surprise, somehow someone had sneaked Kylie’s version of “the Locomotion” into what was otherwise a painfully hip LA TV playlist.
Not only did I laugh out loud when I first heard it, but it put a grin on my face for ages.
I raised how unusual such a track was with the sadist and how I was surprised to find something so out of character blasting through the club.
“I think,” he muttered, bitterly “we just have to face the scary fact that there are probably other people out there in the world who think like you.”
And, as if he could somehow punish the world through me for this, he set me up some deadlifts.
Poor chap. He has to listen to that station on repeat all day…
And finally it’s here.
Bewildering as ever, huh?
But yet, it’s kind of everything I wanted from a PSB/Xenomania collaboration. Catchy, unusual, oddly structured and irritatingly pervasive.
“Don’t have to be beautiful, but it helps” is such a Neil line…
I don’t know if it was just that it was early, and maybe he hadn’t had his coffee, but I got the distinct impression that the barber wasn’t paying attention earlier.
It’s just an impression, mind. It first germinated when, following my request for a “grade two up the back and sides, and a little blending in on top”, he managed to somehow translate this into “a grade two buzzcut all over”.
If he hadn’t started this process in the middle of my head, of course, I may have been able to limit the damage somewhat; but as he did, I couldn’t.
Now all I need is an orange jumpsuit and the effect will be all but complete…
Much to my annoyance, I discovered the other day that whilst my shirt collars are looser now, I am going to have to buy a new suit.
My existing one doesn’t quite fit across the shoulders or chest in the way it used to. In fact it quite seriously inhibits my ability to move.
I may have to start taking these sorts of expenses out of the sadist’s payments.
Naturally, despite the fact that the show itself was pretty atrocious from start to end, I am delighted that Pet Shop Boys won an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music at the Brits last night.
It’s only in recent years that I’ve come to appreciate how truly marvellous they are, and they have sort of snuck into the top spot of my list of favourite bands – even ahead of the Holy Trinity themselves, the Human League.
It’s probably shouldn’t be a surprise. As a bookish, reserved, melancholic, awkward, wannabe-intellectual gay it is somewhat inevitable that Neil Tennant should write the soundtrack to accompany my life. And my most significant relationships are echoed in so many of their songs it’s untrue. (When I was dating one for example, Jealousy and Domino Dancing chimed enormously with me, which in retrospect should have been a sign, and Nervously describes me in every single one I’ve had…)
It’s not entirely unfair that they get labelled as a gay band. It’s a frequent theme of theirs, touching on tragic gay bars (To Speak Is a Sin), failed gay utopias (Go West), the effect of Aids (the Being Boring trilogy, Dreaming of the Queen), closet homosexuals (Can You Forgive Her?, Bet She’s Not Your Girlfriend) and so on.
But to dismiss them as just a gay band is wrong as their subject matter ranges far and wide. They’ll have a pop at Morrissey (Miserabalism), fame-hungry nobodies (Shameless), Peter Mandelson (I Get Along), George W Bush (I’m With Stupid), ID Cards (Integral) and, amusingly, popstars who pronounce on politics (How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?). They’ll touch on Role-Strain, something I suffer from quite badly sometimes (Too Many People), fascism (Delusions of Grandeur), post-war difficulty (Up Against It) and deluded businessmen (Single) to name but a few.
Basically, they tackle more diverse subjects than most non-pop acts so it was about time they were recognised.
But I think what sets them apart is their bloody-minded refusal to do what people expect. It annoys people who just want them to put out another Very-esque album of disco stompers (even though that album isn’t actually that disco heavy), but it means they’ve a rich and varied catalogue which always sounds quintessentially them whilst regularly sounding like nothing you’ve heard them do before.
It also means that the claims of “a return to form” which have, bizarrely, been thrown at their last and next albums, are invariably wide of the mark. They can’t return to form, because they never actually left it, they just didn’t do what you expected.
And of course I love them because they’re not a rock act. They like dance music and they like pop music, like I do, and they manage to make both intellectually satisfying. “Depth through surface” is how they were once described, and I think that’s a fantastic result to achieve.
Here’s to more!
So there I was, at this party. Feeling a bit out of place, not really connecting with the occasion at all, slowly realising that I was one of the oldest people there, and that the majority of the attendees were younger, prettier, and more drunk than I.
It’s times like that you’re probably more easily wounded than others, isn’t it? So maybe I was being over-sensitive, and shouldn’t really be so depressed about it now, but there we are, this is me after all.
In any case what I really didn’t need to hear at that moment was one bright young thing say to another “Oh come off it, I’m closer to thirty-one than you are – and that’s really old?”
Cue Rob sloping off dejectedly and wanting to die…
Well, that’s that then. Demons has finally ended on an episode which at last added some much needed ambiguity, but still totally failed to stop me shouting at the screen.
It was arguably the worst “where the fuck did that come from” resolution of any science-fiction/fantasy drama ever, too.
I did wonder at some points during the run whether this series was being made to make Primeval and Robin Hood look good, you know. Even if that wasn’t the intent it’s certainly been the side-effect anyway.
It’s one of those things where you look back at Doctor Who and think how damned lucky we were.
I doubt even Christian Cooke getting his top off more would have saved it to be honest.
(And please, dear boy, if you will insist on wearing muscle tops, hit the gym more. They look daft without a bit of tone on the arm.)
Well, last night Daniel and I ventured out to see “Fuschia” by Matthew Westwood at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington. And a most diverting evening it proved to be – not least because the venue itself proved to be deeply surreal and Daniel was asked by some pissed-up old soak what my dowry was.
Yeah. It does seem that Daniel’s air of genteel amiability does tend to act as a magnet for nutters.
Anyway, the reason we went was because Jacqueline “Servalan” Pearce was in it, and since she’s just irrepressibly marvellous we felt we must. Plus it turned out that Gary Amers who played the rather fit boyfriend in Beautiful People was in it so I was doubly sold.
Now, I’ll be honest. There were about twenty minutes at the end where it went very mystical and spiritual, and since these are sadly not qualities I possess, I hadn’t the foggiest clue what people were talking about. But it was all terribly engaging stuff and had a very uplifting, if slightly melancholic, end.
I like my melancholia, I do. It suits my disposition.
And it was a great cast too. When Moya Brady, who played Bridget in Who’s Love and Monsters swanned on as… er… Bridget, I instantly thought “oh fantastic”, which indeed she then proved to be. Mark Dymond, Connie Hyde, James Carlton and Jamie Maclachlan then rounded off a cast of “oh, hang on, I know you”s who rather splendidly brought to life a series of neatly wrought characters.
It was Pearce and Amers who stole the show, though. You expect it from Jacqui I think, and her character is kind of exactly how I expect her to be in real life: playful, gently barking, spiritual and dazzlingly insightful. The way she played Amanda was so utterly charming, and I loved the moments when she lead other characters towards the brink of realisation whilst apparently agreeing with every wrong opinion they had. Plus there was an exquisite pleasure in seeing Chessene saying lines like “we fucked like flintstones” which had a power all its own.
Amers, however, was a shock. Talk about giving it your all. Admittedly his character’s final transformation could have been achieved with a big slap and a stern talking to, but the play probably would have been a bit too short then. It was a really quite uncomfortable performance: fantastic, mind, but as hard to watch as it was mesmerising.
And believe me, it takes a lot for me to find a fit man with his top off hard to watch, you mark my words.
So yes, all really very impressive. It runs until 22nd February and I think it’s definitely worth a look. Very funny and very harrowing by turns, which is no bad thing to be. A tour de force of writing, direction and performance. And one I’m still wrapping my brain round now.
Well, the tube’s gone into meltdown, the internet is entirely filled with people giving you minute by minute updates on the situation, and hundreds of thousands of people have finally been given the excuse they need to stay in bed of a Monday morning.
Ladies and gentlemen: we have had some snow.
It’s the thing I find most bizarre about the British psyche. For all our obsession with the weather, when it actually happens we seem to get taken completely by surprise.
It’s suddenly raining a lot? Gridlock occurs on the roads and incidents of eye injury through stupidly big golf-umbrellas increase. The sun’s been out for more than three days? Everyone suffers from collective heatstroke. It’s a bit icy? Drivers suddenly crawl to a halt and start doing stupid manoeuvres.
And as for snow… well. Here we are. Bugger Gaza and Davos, this is where it’s at!
Really, in the grand scheme of things, there ain’t that much. I’ve been to Berlin and Pottsdam in January and had to contend with more snow than this, Boston and Mississauga too. They routinely put up with snow which is deeper and more persistent than this and yet somehow their infrastructures and their psyches keep going on as normal.
For us though, the minute it’s not just a bit grey and mizzley then complete shutdown occurs. Especially if anything happens outside 9-5 on the normal working day.
So far, two of us have made it into the office. I had to walk from Streatham to Brixton to do it (luckily I had access to what were at the time the only working tubes) and I sure as hell won’t be doing that again, but it’s staggering considering that the roads are largely passable that even buses have given up!