Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yoffy Lifts A Finger.

TV At It's Best.

I am in a funny old mood lately. The last post looked back to before my birth and the fabulous old encyclopedia I have inherited. Today I am looking back to my childhood and the much missed and, in my opinion, far superior children's television we had back then.

Thanks to my old mate Dave, who is a great one for nostalgia, especially when it comes to the TV programmes we watched when we were nippers I have come across a wonderful website. Little Gems is a trip down memory lane. It is choca-block of well remembered and long forgotten programmes. The Fingerbobs page, for example, is a wonderful reminder of that delightfully simple and gentle programme. Fans of this programme might be surprised to learn that there were only ever 13 episodes recorded. As a child it seemed like there were loads and loads. Each page is packed full of screen grabs from our favourites such as Lizzie Dripping, White Horses, Jamie And The Magic Torch, Think Of A Number (bring back Johnny Ball) and many, many others.

You also get a synopsis of the programme, who starred in it and who wrote and directed the programmes. However by far the most excellent thing about the site is the ability to be able to listen and download the theme tunes. I was absolutely delighted today to find the theme tune to White Horses sung by Jackie. I still have a scratchy vinyl copy somewhere (b-side "Too Many Chiefs And Not Enough Indians") but having a decent digital copy on my PC has made my day.

If you miss proper children's television have a look at this site. It'll make you smile. Unless of course you weren't brought up in the UK of course because we won't have a clue what I'm on about.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Times They Are A Changing.

A couple of weeks ago one of my relatives died. He was my Nan's cousin and had reached the remarkable age of 97. He was a good old sort and continued to look after him self right up till the end. After he died my Uncle, Aunt and Mum came up to clear out his house which by all accounts was a real treasure trove. For instance there were about 6 video recorders, one of which I have inherited, dvd recorders, hi-fi equipment, computers and televisions. Bill was a bit of a techno head and always liked having decent equipment up until the end. The amount of changes he must of seen in his lifetime is hard to imagine. He was born before the age of television, radio, proper cinema (although there were picture houses about), motorised transport, apart from the train would have been a novelty.

Amongst the massive amount of stuff are some really fab things. There are for example a lot of cigarette cards, not unusual in itself but these are still in the boxes, which will probably double their value. There are also a lot of books and my uncle very kindly, knowing my love for them let me have a sort through and take what I wanted.

One very interesting item I found was the 'New Standard Encyclopaedia (as it was spelt then) And World Atlas' 1932 edition. The introduction was written by one Rev C.A. Alington D.D. (Headmaster of Eton). I am interested to see how things have changed in the intervening 75 years since its publication.

One of the first things I came across was an entry for Addis Ababa, which is described as the "capital of Abyssinia", two pages on adultery is described as "sexual intercourse by husband or wife with some other person. The offender may be quite innocent, for instance may think his or her wife or husband is dead, but it is always adultery until the marriage is dissolved by marriage or otherwise". This seems quite enlightened for the times and may have been described as dangerous communist propaganda by the Daily Mail.

It mentions that there were only 8 recognised airports in the UK, being at Croydon, Dover, Lympne, Heston, Woolston, Barton, Liverpool and Cardington. How times have changed. My home town Westcliff is named, along with near neighbour Southend, as a chief watering place. Having been into town on Saturday night for a drink with some mates not a lot has changed there!!

National Socialism wasn't even mentioned, as it had yet to rear its ugly head to any great degree , though the entry regarding the overthrow of the Italian government by Mussolini's Fascists in 1922 rather sweetly says prevented a civil war. Thankfully Il Duce is chastised later for being more a dictator than a premier.

Nationalisation is proposed as an idea that has been put forward in Great Britain. Iran was still Persia and a constitutional monarchy. Peterborough was still in Northamptonshire and hadn't yet moved down the road to Cambridgeshire.

Page 1184 says that "In Great Britain it is the law that shops and places of amusement must be closed on Sunday...shops where refreshments and newspapers are sold the law is tacitly broken..." string 'em up I say.

Sunbathing is, we are told on the same page, is extremely healthy and somewhat surprisingly for the time advocates nudism as beneficial to health. Very cheeky at the time I'd have thought.

I chuckled at the entry for tattooing which is described as a "practice among uncivilised nations of marking the skin by incisions into which are introduced charcoal or coloured liquids" it goes on to say that "the practice, which was condemned by Moses, is now failing into disuse". Little did I know that I am both one of a dying breed and uncivilised. Hurrah for that.

There is so much more to look at in this fascinating book and I may well return to it in another entry. For the time being though I'll mention one more interesting omission. The Muslim faith, now probably the largest faith in the world is hardly mentioned and is not given its own entry. A three and a half line entry on Islam says "Word used for the Mohammedian world". This says a lot about the arrogance of the old empire. This ancient religion was deemed unimportant and anyway we ruled over them all anyway so they didn't warrant a mention. Well I thought the omission said a great deal about how the world was, from the view of a Britain in 1932.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Explosions In My Pre-Amp.

Explosions In The Sky - Live at The Astoria, London 19th April 2007

Having had to cancel two UK shows in Manchester and Glasgow because bad weather had caused their flight to be cancelled from the US, the audience were more than ready for Explosions In The Sky. First however, we were treated to a fine set by Bristol band Gravenhurst. Jock Pop, Charlie Brown and me had tried in vein to see this band on a couple of occasions, the most notable of which was a trip to Hamburg where they were supporting Belle and Sebastian. The club they were playing in doubled up as a fetish club which meant that the music had to be over by 9.30. Gravenhurst went on at about 6.30 and as a consequence we missed them. The band played well, despite a shitty mix from the mixing desk and set us up nicely for the main event.

Explosions hail from Austin Texas and are about as far removed from the country music associated with the state than you can get. They are like Mogwai, mixed with a dash of Godspeed! You Black Emperor with a dash of Sigor Ros (albeit a more ballsy version) chucked in for good measure. However, they are far from a copy of the above, they have their own sound of aural magnificence that, at times, blew me away.

The band started in a fairly unusual way for a band playing in such a large venue. Most bands you see like to come on stage to rapturous applause before kicking off their first number, but Explosions wandered on, set up their effects peddles and guitars and just started playing without the usual fanfare. It was a refreshing change. On the subject of effect peddles, I have rarely seen so many. Mark Smith and Munaf Rayani had at least 15 peddles between them. Oh and how they used them. They are at times gentle and beautiful before soaring up and er, exploding in the sky!! At times this was an astonishing show and is one of the best things I've seen in a year or so. The band are all fine musicians and a big shout must go out to bassist Michael James who played his bass as fast as I have ever seen. If he wasn't using a pick he must soak his fingers in surgical spirit over night to stop his skin failing off.

The gig was nearly brought to a premature end when Munaf's pre-amp (the orange one pictured left) started smoking in a very alarming way. This brought huge cheers from the crowd and saw Munaf drop his guitar pretty damn quick. Another amp was brought from back stage and the last tune was belted out, although it must be said that Munaf did keep glancing over his shoulder should he be in danger of being fried.

If you are a fan of thoughtful, melodic, instrumental and above loud music, then check this band out. You won't be disappointed.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Let Me Take You Higher.

Marmite has taken to the domestic equivilent of mountain climbing so he can review his domain. It all started when he decided that sleeping on tp of my wardrobe would be a comfortable option. This lasted for about a week until the beginning of last week when he somehow managed to get on top of the kitchen wall cupboards. This is no mean feat. It is quite an impressive jump to get up there for the worktop and I have yet to see him actually make the leap.

Obviously Twiglet has followed suit but is less keen. He just gets up there for a nose about. Marmite on the other hand sleeps up there and has even had his tea up there too.

This will probably not last for very long as he is a great one for trying sleeping places out for a couple of weeks or so. A few weeks ago he slept on the floor in front of the telly for a while and before that he slept in front of the front door. Twiglet is much more definite about sleping arrangements and tends to use the same three places. On the bed with me (and Lily when she sleeps over), on the kitchen chair and his favourite when it gets a bit chilly at night, on top of the telly.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Who Actually Gives A F***

My heart sunk at the weekend. The media has decided that the most important news of the weekend was the end of Prince William and Kate Middleton's relationship. All day yesterday and this morning the first news item on Five Live has centred on this story. My question is why? What is so important about two people in their mid-twenties splitting up? It happens all the time. I don't understand why this non-event warrants so much media coverage. According to the news this morning the tabloids have given over forty (yes forty!!) pages this morning to the story. What is there to report? Nothing as far as I can see. Okay, so he is possibly going to be King one day (unless there is a glorious revolution of course), but who actually gives a flying fuck who he is going out with?

This country is obessessed with the cult of celebrity and the need to know everything about their lives. Or is it? Is the whole thing driven by the media. I have long had the belief that although the media tell us they are giving us what we want, and I'm primarily talking about the newspapers here, they actually create this myth so they can justify printing the crap that they do. This may sound a little patronising (it's not meant to) but I think the general public will just lap up what they are given. If the newspapers chose to print interesting stories about 'real' people and global events, rather than who is shagging who, or who has, God forbid, gone to the pub and had a couple of beers, I seriously believe that the masses wouldn't really notice. They would still buy the paper that they have always bought.

Of course I don't hold out any hope that things will change. We will still be fed shite year after year. I haven't bought a newspaper for years because I can't stand it and although I listen to the news on the radio to keep up, I'm slowly getting pissed off with them too. When the end of a relationship between two people 99.99% of the public have never met is top story for two days on the news networks, on a day when people are being killed in a war in the middle east I think we need to step back and have a look at things.

As I'm writing this Five Live has just announced that the majority of listeners in a poll this morning have stated that the amount of coverage given to this story is unwarranted. Maybe there is hope after all.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Blimey, This Is Quick.

Hurrah, I have entered the 21st Century at last. For today I had a Broadband Internet connection installed. For many years I have been struggling by with Windows 95 and as a consequence a very slow Internet connection. Coupled with a knackered keyboard and a very old and shagged out PC it made blogging a pain in the backside. I have managed over the last 9 months or so by using the library facilities blog.

No more!! I have lovely,lovely broadband. How marvellous it is. I can't actually believe how quick it is. I used to be able to go and make a cup of tea whilst a page downloaded. Not now though. Not with 10 meg of download speed.

As a write this I am listening to the radio on the laptop. Now I have a radio of course but this is a bit of a novelty so please indulge me. My worry now, is that I will spend millions of pounds on Amazon now I can get on it properly. And as for EBay! I'm keeping well away.

Hopefully I can get back to blogging more frequently now. I've really missed it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Music Is The Key Of Life.

As I have been off work for what now seems like an inordinate amount of time I had started to worry a bit when my usual obsession with music began to wane a bit. It seemed like an age since I had sat down and listened to any Cd's. I found myself either watching crap cable tv shows about cooking or cars or reading.

Now don't get me wrong, I love reading and I have read some terrific books over the last couple of months. I can wholeheartedly recommend Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" which explains his atheism and lays bare many of the manipulative behaviours of the fundamentalist Christian church (particularly in America) . On a similar theme Chris Hodges' book "American Fascists" is a commentary on the American Christian Right. It is an insightful and scary book about just how far the fundamentalist churches in the US have gained positions of power in the government. It is a wake up call to all rational thinking people.

Anyway, I have got off topic a bit, so back, as they say in all the worst radio programmes, to the music. It was the arrival of my laptop and the ability to burn Cd's that awoke my love of music. I have been making mix 'tapes' (okay, Cd's!) for the car and having great fun. I have found my way back to loud guitar music such as Dinosaur Jr, Husker Du, Pavement, Sebodah and the wondrous Sonic Youth, who have become my favourite band at the moment. I only had a few Sonic Youth albums, namely Dirty, Goo, The Whitey Album (Ciccone Youth) and Washing Machine among them but I'm afraid I've given Amazon a bit of a bashing in the last few weeks and chalked up five more purchases, so that now I have 12 Sonic Youth albums. I really, really like Sonic Youth and can't wait to see them at the end of August when they showcase the seminal 1988 album Daydream Nation at the Roundhouse in London.