Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Christmas and all that....

"Bah humbug" is my usual cry at this time of year because as a rule I don't like Christmas much. It's not the buying of presents or the carols, tinsel and turkey that turns me off, but more when it all starts. October is far too early to start thinking about Christmas in my book. It should start at the very earliest on 1 December and at best two weeks before.

This year however I'm actually enjoying it. I put this down to having Lily and Sybil around. It will be fun on Christmas morning to see Sybs unwrapping her presents and as I'm not going to my parents until Wednesday next week I'm also looking forward to cooking a Christmas lunch for Lily and me. I image Sybs will want cheese sandwiches or fish fingers. I enjoy going to my Mum and Dad's for Christmas but I haven't had a Christmas at home for fourteen years and I'm really looking forward to it.

Another thing I'm looking forward to greatly this year is seeing some of my mates over the festive period. Tonight for example I'm going out for a meal with about ten friends. Usually I'm in darkest Cornwall and have therefore never been to this annual event. As I'm at home for Christmas I can go this year.

There are things about Christmas I still have trouble enjoying though. The British fashion for festooning their houses with thousands of Christmas lights for example. What brought this on? It never happened in my day. It seems that if someone in the street does it, a wicked Christmas virus takes hold and everyone else has to have a bigger and better display, thus draining the national grid of electricity. I'm not a fan of this false festive spirit either. All of a sudden, on 1 December, people of a certain type suddenly start wearing Santa hats as if that is going to suddenly make you remember it is Christmas and you therefore MUST enjoy yourself. I know its fucking Christmas you idiot! Piss off and leave me alone!! And then if you don't join in with there incessant partying your are labelled a miserable bastard. Well I can enjoy Christmas without dressing up and looking like a complete toss pot thank you very much.

My final Christmas nadir however is wrapping presents. I HATE wrapping presents. It takes me forever, I'm crap at it and they end up looking like a car crash. I know you can buy al your gifts on the internet and many can be gift wrapped but if you decide to buy stuff from the High Street you're buggered. Someone should event self wrapping Christmas presents and therefore save hours and hours of pain for an idiot like me.

Despite my reservations I am enjoying Christmas this year (and if the truth be known I always do really) and hope you all have a Christmas that you choose. Be it at home on your own refusing to be drawn in to all the crap or partying with your family and friends. Have a good one.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006


There are many things in life that are wrong. War for example, homophobia, sexism, racism, disablism and lots of other ‘isms’ that I can’t think of at the minute. All of the above are a done deal. There are, however, lots of other wrong things in the world and I reckon I’ll share them with you. Remember, in the world of Marmite, Marmiteboy is king, so the following ARE wrong and you’ll never convince me otherwise.

Pea and Ham soup.
Pop Socks.
Middle Aged men with pony tails (grow up and cut it off man you look really stupid).
Bakewell tarts.
Dogs who wear clothes.
Shell suits.
Balding men with long hair.
Socks and sandals worn together.
People that don’t read books.
Pizza with pineapple.
(Last time I looked pineapple was a fruit it doesn’t go with ham, tomato and cheese. No really, it doesn’t).
Wind and rain (My least favourite weather combination. Should be banned).
The Chuckle Brothers
(if you want to see just how wrong Google them)
Peanut Butter
Mayonnaise (why coat your food with something that doesn’t taste of anything?)
Malibu and Coke.
Men who wear thick gold chains.
Fondue parties.
(you shouldn’t be eating something that looks like frog spawn).

That is a list of stuff wot is wrong. There is obviously much more that is wrong but I don’t want to be seen as being a miserable sod.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's Always Good To Do A New Thing.

I've done a number of 'new' things recently. Things that I have never done before. Why the sudden intrepidness then? Some of it is to do with a change in circumstances no doubt and some of it is because of greater confidence in myself. Whatever the reason it is definitely good to do new things.

New Things Wot I've Done.

1. I have become a manager.

Scary I know, letting me have any responsibility that involves the lives of others but a change at work meant I am now the manager to eight poor souls. It's something that I never ever had ambition to do and I was actually quite daunted at the prospect of ever having to do it. However, as it turns out I love it. Sure there wil be times when it will be difficult and I'l cross that bridge when I come to it, so far though it's been a really positive experience.

2. I have bought a Christmas tree.

This is a first. I always go to my parents in Cornwall for Christmas Day and have never bothered about getting one. Well you don't if you're on your own do you. This year though I have Lily and Sybil for Christmas which is going to be fab. It was good fun getting the tree and decorating it on Saturday night and I really like it being there. And so far the cats have ignored it.

3. I have completely shaved my head.

I have had short hair for a while now. I used to have a skinhead haircut (although I've never been a skinhead) about 13-14 years ago and it has generally always been very short. Recently I return to having it shaved to a Grade 2 and then went to a Grade 1 and then progressed to a Grade ½. On Saturday night I went one better and covered my head in shaving foam and shaved it off completely. It feels great (if a little cold) and Lily likes it so I'm going to keep it up for a bit.

4. I have started reading graphic novels.

I always mocked those who read graphic novels as not reading proper books. However, my mate Piley recently lent me some work by the great Alan Moore who wrote 'V For Vendetta', 'Watchman' , 'From Hell' and 'The League For Extraordinary Gentlemen' and I must say I'm hooked. Graphic novels are far, far more than just comics. They are complex, literary and above all a darn good read. I'm currently reading 'Fun House' by Alison Bechdel which for all intents and purposes is an autobiography. Excellent it is too.

So okay I've only done 4 new things but hey it's a start. Go on do a new thing today.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Best Of 2006

It’s that time of year again when I turn one of my favourite pursuits of the year, the compilation of my records of the year. I have always been one for compiling lists of my favourite records, bands, singers and so on. I fact, when Nick Hornby wrote Hi Fidelity one of my mates reckoned he had written it about me because I did lists so much. Although not an easy task, it is never a chore for me to do a Top Five, Ten or Twenty. As usual several of my colleagues also their lists (yes we do all have lives and some of us have wives and girlfriends too) and this year we were only allowed to chose one track per artist. This makes the task more difficult but does focus the mind. Here then, without further ado is my Top Twenty for 2006.

1. Glasgow Mega Snake by Mogwai – This is the stand out track from Mr Beast, one of two albums released by Glasgow noise merchants, Mogwai this year. It, as usual, starts slowly and just when you least expect it takes your head off with a blistering, vicious and darn right noisy refrain. I saw the mighty Mogs three times in 06 and at a gig in Cambridge it was this track that moved my mate Charlie’s trousers it was so loud. How cool is that?

2. Made Up Love Song # 43 by Guillemots – Wonderful pop music is this. Main man Fyfe Dangerfield writes a damn good tune, so he does. This is as uplifting as it gets. It will brighten the dreariest of days.

3. Out Of The Angeles by Amusement Parks On Fire – Hurrah, Shoegazey is back! Initially APOF were a solo project by Nottingham based musician Michael Feerick. For his second album however he expanded to a five piece and as a result their sound is even more wonderful. I have always loved walls of noise and vocals far down in the mix and we get that in spades here. Reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, but none the worse for it this is a wonderful record.

4. Black Gown by The Lemonheads – The Lemonheads went away for a long while whilst Evan Dando sorted his head out. We all thought that he could never recapture the sound that made The Lemonheads such a darn good band. He has gone through a lot has Evan and as he is no longer a young man, we all thought that it would take its toll on his vocals. We were so wrong. This could be The Lemonheads finest moment. Dando sounds as youthful as ever and has definitely got his mojo back. Fab stuff, it is also one of Sybil’s latest fav raves.

5. Rise Up With Fists by Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins. - Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis goes solo(ish) and the result is a lovely album Americana tunes that are perfectly suited to Jenny’s sweet vocals. Rilo Kiley’s last album sounded a bit to polished and commercial for my ears but this is subtle and very pretty.

6. The Shy Retainer by Arab Strap – Alas no more Arab Strap. Moffat and Middleton have called it a day. There will be no more drunken musings on life in Falkirk. Well until Aiden Moffat’s solo next solo album anyway. The inclusion of this track may be seen as a bit of a cheat as it was first recorded in 2003 but I’m including it as it has been re-recorded for the Strap’s final EP that was sold on the final tour. Not, as they say, available in the shops.

7. Tera Nova by iLiKETRAiNs – The spelling is a gimmick, as is the old British Rail gear they wear on stage. However the music is far from gimmicky. Another Shoegazey type band, this time from Leeds. Check them out.

8. I’m Ready by The Twilight Singers – Greg Dulli can do little wrong in my book and we have a brand new Afghan Whigs album and tour to look forward to in 2007. Until then though Dulli’s new band will do. A bit more laid back than The Whigs on the album but this track is very reminiscent of that greatest of US bands.

9. Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken by Camera Obscura – Some might call them twee and some may be right. You cannot dispute that they write a catchy tune though. It is a crime that this wasn’t a massive hit.

10. Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager (part 2) by Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly. – At last Southend has someone to write home about. Sam Duckworth is probably the hardest working man in the business at the moment. Sometimes he has chalked up three gigs in a day. Give him somewhere to play and he’ll do a show. It shows, because he is bloody good. His debut album of the same name has been very well received and his sound, with acoustic guitar, accompanied by beats from his laptop, are unusual enough to make him stand out from the crowd. He will go far.

11. I Fought The Angels by The Delgado’s – Okay maybe this one is a cheat seeing as they split up last year and this is from a Peel Session years ago. But it was not released until this year and is fabulous. So there.

12. Cathkin Braes by De Rosa – Jock Pop tells me the title is something to do with a place in Scotland. I can’t remember where and I don’t really care. What I do care about is this is another fine band discovered by Chemikal Underground Records. I look forward to more.

13. Ramblin’ Man by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Campbell, ex of Belle and Sebastian recorded this with ex-Screaming Trees front man Lanegan without meeting him. They exchanged the bits they had recorded by e-mail. This may lead you to think that this is a techno record. It’s nothing of the sort. In fact it is a lovely country tinged song reminiscent of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra. And yes, it is a cover of the Hank Williams song.

14. Springfield by Sufjan Stevens – This, for me is the stand out track from ‘Avalanche’ an album released this year that included outtakes and alternate versions from the ‘Illinois’ sessions. It is nothing different or doesn’t depart from Steven’s sparse sound. It is rather beautiful though.

15. Big Star Baby by Mojave 3 – Several members of this band used to be in Slowdive who were for a short time my favourite band. They produced lovely Shoegazey stuff. Mojave 3 on the other hand sound like Big Star or the Byrds. Nowt wrong with that either. This is a lovely, sunny, feel good record.

16. It’s Not So Bad by Sparklehorse – Blimey, Mark Linkous almost sounds happy on this. Surely not? It must be the Dangermouse input. And pop-pickers that isn’t the one-eyed bepatched superspy mouse we know and love but the geezer behind Gnarls Barkley. Strangely though it isn’t a pile of shite, but the usual Sparklehorse stuff about being miserable and horses. Only a tiny bit more cheerful.

17. The Youngest Was The Most Loved by Morrissey – Morrissey’s latest album ‘Ringleader Of The Tormentors’ was a major disappointment to these ears. It didn’t move on any from previous albums and was a trifle dull. However, this was a blistering track, full of swirling guitars and great lyrics. If only the rest of the album had been as good.

18. Sukie In The Graveyard by Belle and Sebastian – I’ve seen Scotland’s best band four times this year (the most memorable being a jaunt to Germany) and as usual they invariably came up trumps. This was my favourite track from ‘The Life Pursuit’. Funky and fun it’s a great dance record.

19. Depleted Uranium Is A War Crime by Anti-Flag – This is a bit of a departure for the America’s favourite agit-punks as it’s about fluffy bunnies, flowers and staring into the sunset with the one you love. Only joking! It does exactly what it says on the tin. Anti-Bush, anti-war and anti just about everything else. The best leftist punk band in the States. Period.

20. Let The Cool Goodness Rust Away by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Although I bought this last year it sneaks in as it wasn’t released officially in the UK until January. It’s a lovely slice of oddness. Are they the new Talking Heads? Only time will tell.

That’s it folks, another year gone. I’ve bought far too many records this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve topped a hundred albums! There has been some great stuff and I can’t wait for next year for some more.


Friday, December 01, 2006

World Aids Day.

Today is World Aids Day. It is hoped that awareness can be raised that will put an end to the unnecessary deaths of 5,500 people who needlessly die of AIDS in Africa every day.

Think about that for a minute. 5,500 men, women and children every day, 365 days a year. And that is just in Africa!

Support World Aids Day and visit this campaigning site

Thank you and Keep Safe.