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Monday, 31 July 2006

Bob's Schoolboy Cricket #1,267...

For the Timster:

C86 XI v Legends of Soul XI

C86 XI

Gillespie, B lbw b King, B. E. 16
Gedge, D c Mayfield, C b Sledge, P 32
Marsh, P c & b Sledge, P 4
Blackwell, N run out 5
Burtonwood, T b James, E 112
Simpson, B b James, E 85
Perks, V c & b James, E 0
Dickson, S not out 35
Duffy, M b Bell, W 2
Newton, D c Pickett, C b Sledge, P 0
Harkin, H b King, B. E. 0
Pastel, S. (12th man - for The Billster...)

TOTAL (all out, 106 overs) 292

Legends of Soul XI

Brown, J b Dickson, S 167
Pickett, W c Burtonwood, T b Harkin, H 52
Charles, R not out 39
Redding, O not out 44
Cooke, S
Mayfield, C
Franklin, A
James, E
Bell, W
Sledge, P
King, B. E.

TOTAL (for two wkts, 87.4 overs) 293

Well played everyone!

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The Rapture Ready Robert Swipe Show - It Is. Are You?...

I was rather cynical about all this Rapture business thinking - like most people - that it had something to do with the very wonderful Blondie toon of the same name. But no, it doesn't (at least, not unless the Messiah is planning to have it played on a loop as the soundtrack to His 1,000 year, post-Apocalypse rule of the could do worse, I suppose. And there is an extended Disco re-mix of it available - though still not quite that long....)

No, this is the very interesting website that will help you become one of the 144,000 (yes, that's 144,000) humanoids to be spared the forthcoming cull that will follow on shortly, once all this beastly business in the Middle East has blown over. There's a very nifty population clock that ticks over like a cab meter in a traffic jam as each new potential Damien sprog spawn from hell arrives and lots of other stuff that I can't be arsed to read but you may well find interesting - like who exactly will be The Beast* (he's the baddie, btw, who will take part in the ultimate battle of good v. evil (I thought Arsenal v. Tottenham was a little later this season...?!?) somewhere in Sumeria (Iraq, apparently..)

So there you go. As Bob Dylan said, "keep a clean conscience and always carry a light bulb...". And I hope you all make the cut....

*My money's on Robbie Williams....

++++++++++++ UPDATE +++++++++++++

The alternative to all this pie in the sky mumbo jumbo is provided by the much more sensible Pastafarian movement - Jar is mighty! Pasta Duchie on di lefthand side...

I'll post up Bobcast4 tomorrow sometime - thanks for all the feedback. I'm glad you're both enjoying them...

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Sunday, 30 July 2006

Bob' s Schoolboy Cricket...

Sandwiched in between Big Cat Diary (wasn't the little lion cub mewling along with the roaring pride a hoot?) and the evergreen Carry on Cleo ("Friends, Romans, [someone else reminds him - "countrymen"] I know, I know....") was an episode of everyone's favourite 70s sitcom about a Surbiton couple who try to become self-sufficient, The Good Life. It was the one where the Goods get fleas (which it turns out didn't originate from their livestock, but from the leader of the local Conservative Association's pooch. See, bloody Tories...) There's a great bit at the beginning where (making their own entertainment, like) Barbara is reading whilst Tom is playing some public school game that he refers to as Schoolboy Cricket. Not having been to Public School, this was rather a new one on me (it also probably explains why I'm not a member of the cabinet and haven't worked for the BBC/Grauniad. It's OK - I'm not bitter...) Anyroad, it was great fun listening to Tom's imaginary scorecard being read out: "Churchill, caught Gandhi, bowled Roosevelt for 22...etc.) so I thought, why not have a go myself? Then, if it works we could all have a go and pass them round furtively among ourselves at the back of the formroom while the beak is wittering on about Latin declensions and the fall of Khartoum. Wizard wheeze, eh chaps??

So here goes.

All-Round Entertainers XI v Impressionist Artists XI

All-Round Entertainers XI

Forsyth, B lbw b Morisot, B 16
Black, C c Monet, C b Bazille, F 32
Tarbuck, J c & b Morisot, B 4
Davis Jr., S run out 5
Barrymore, M (retd. hurt) 112
Grayson, L b Morisot, B 85
Conley, B c & b Morisot, B 0
Pasquale, J not out 35
Trinder, T b Caillebotte, G 2
Castle, R c Monet, C b Caillebotte, G 0
O'Connor, D b Caillebotte, G 0

TOTAL (all out, 106 overs) 292

Impressionist Artists XI

Sisley, A b Trinder, T 167
Pissaro, C c Paquale, J b Trinder, T 52
Manet, E not out 39
Renoir, P-A not out 44
Monet, C
Degas, E
Cassat, M
Caillebotte, G
Bazille, F
Morisot, B
Guillaumin, A

TOTAL (for two wkts, 87.4 overs) 293

Well played lads!

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Saturday, 29 July 2006

Bobcast 3...

Bobcast 3 is available to download now (it's free Richard, btw) via iTunes or Switchpod. Just follow the links below or click update in iTunes if you've subscribed already...

Artists featured this week include The Roxy, Archie Bell & the Drells, Wilson Pickett and many, many more....(plus lots of Bob's incomprehensible wittering, of course...)

Right, I'm out of here to listen to it again....

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Friday, 28 July 2006

Debbie McGee Models...

Noticed this in the ever-reliable Independent Gossip column, about the only section of the paper not currently concerned with events in the Middle East (although, admittedly, I only skimmed this part, so it may well have been mentioned in the boring bits I didn't read about Gordon Brown's voting patterns on Gay Rights issues..)

They (Debbie McGee Models) are based in Bristol, apparently (a short walk that should save your ankles in those heels, Spinny...) and, yes, it is THE Debbie Mcgee who, as the blurb on her website is at pains to point out "is the wife of Internationally Renown Magician, Paul Daniels". I've just had a quick look at the section they've for some reason best known to themselves decided to call "The Women" and, if I can be frank here, I can't say I'm likely to be hiring any of them in the forseeable future (although, I suppose you can't always count on escort agencies to ensure that their staff realise the legally binding nature of the contractual stipulation that they wear oven gloves and a clingfilm twin set, so who knows - perhaps if Eunice J is willing to indulge a broken, callipered man with a rotting sexual organ....?)

For those of you who, like me, aren't fortunate enough currently to reside in the Bristol area, Debbie has some heartening words:

Debbie McGee Models are seeking new faces of all ages for work/opportunities in Modelling, Catwalk, Fashion, The Stage, Film, Television, Dance and many types of promotional work. We will be travelling around the UK to various locations seeking new faces, talents, abilities and characters.

Can't wait! Maybe I should give Roberta a call??

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Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Molly's Bob Swipe Singing Poll...

Bob & Molly: the new Peters & Lee??? (That's Molly on the left, btw....)

As regular readers (and listeners) will be aware, Molly Bloom has for some time now been co-ordinating a crafty campaign aimed at inflicting the "dulcet tones" of your humble scribe upon the nation's poor, young, innocent and vulnerable. It seems that the succession of caterwauling monstrosities that pass for singers nowadays have pulverised our previously astute notions of what constituted "a nice singing voice" into a non-discriminating mush of yeah-whateverness that allows even the pained contortions of Frank Ferdinand, Robbie Williams, Celine Dion, Ian Brown, Frank Ifield et al to pass by as innocuously on the ear as honey down a sick child's throat. I just hadn't realised that the decline in standards had been quite so steep as to allow for the possibility of a resurrection of my own singing career. Either that, or the girl's tone deaf. Still, if Morrissey can get away with it...

Regardless, Molly has taken it upon herself* to orchestrate a poll, the desired end of which is to select a song upon which my voice can work its magic - much in the same way that a tsunami works its magic on a holiday resort. Obviously, I can't be seen to condone this - I have enough trouble as it is with the Child Support People and the illiterate neighbours (How many times do I have to say this - it's PaedoPHILE!). But I do have a brand new podcast to plug and, as the Mollster cannily points out, I do get more traffic than she does**, some of which it would be an honour to pass on to her excellent and highly imaginative... (....alright, don't overdo it - we're meant to be pushing the Bobcasts here - PR ed.) So, as Mollster is an avid (bordering, it must be said on the criminally obsessesive) reader of (and listener to) the Show who looks not unlike Penelope Wilton in her prime and who has, furthermore, promised to re-enact one of those famous "evidently both gagging for it" scenes from Ever-decreasing Circles with me in the Peter Egan role (Penelope plays a sex-starved nurse with a penchant for oven gloves, laytex and plinths in the script I'm currently drafting..), well a man is but flesh and blood (...mostly blood, when the liver's playing up, if truth be told...)......I thought.....whatever...

So, in true copycat Scary Duck fashion, "Vote-u-do....

* With perhaps a soupcon of gentle coercion on the part of your humble balladeer...
** Size isn't everything Molly, as I'm continually reassuring myself...

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Bargain of the week...

Thanks to Andy for this - at Amazon of course.....

They're offering a discount on the new Paul Blezard too apparently - please shell out as he'll be needing help with his medical bills after my "little talking to"...

Love rat.

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That Morrissey v. Maddeley Bout - Blow by Blow...

A very big 'big up' [as I believe the vernacular parlance has it] to Morrissey for perpetuating his feud with Judy Finnegan's co-host, Richard Maddeley. Mozzer, speaking to an audience in Oxford recently (and quite sensibly) condemned the Uni's new animal testing laboratories, saying "for anyone working in the labs, we are going to get you [I love it when he talks chav, don't you?] This causes Mr. Finnegan to respond by calling La Moz "a puffed up brat" and "vain-glorious strutting humbug". [Get her!]

This is the Morrissey riposte, as posted on True to

Finally, and most trivially, thank you to the British television person (I'm not exactly sure what it is he does) Richard Madeley who, at least, made me laugh recently by referring to me as an "insufferable puffed-up prat". This comment may or may not be true, but I think it's a bit much coming from a man who actually married his own mother. But that's life ...

Come on Richard! He's not as tough as he looks you know......

Elsewhere, a guitar claimed to have been that of blues legend Robert Johnson goes up for auction today (?) Estimated asking price? Six million squids. I'll stick with my bow-necked Takemine, ta very much....

Amazing what you find out when you don't read The Cuntiad, isn't it?

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Tuesday, 25 July 2006

The Second Bobcast is Now Available (and with iTunes)!!!...

That's right! Packed with over 40 minutes of fun, frolics and excessive background noise, the latest episode of our podcast is now available. It may take a devil of a long time to download, but watching that envelope flap has to beat Celebrity Love Island, hasn't it??

The Robert Swipe Show - bringing people together to argue over a laptop since 2004....

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Sunday, 23 July 2006

Bob Speaks!!!!!!!!...

It takes a while to open the file but, finally it's here.......

.....the First Ever Robert Swipe Show Podcast!!!!!

You may need to download iTunes to play it, but that's free.

Hope you can access it OK and enjoy it...

Still trying to sort out the link to the RSS feed (whatever that is, but bear with me....)

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Friday, 21 July 2006

Bob's Ultimate Pop Trivia Quiz...

After noting the obscene number of comments (76 and counting!!) generated by Molly's excellent Pop Quiz post, I thought - why not dredge what hasn't been obliterated of the old Swipe Memory Stick and post up a few teasers meself, like? It should keep you all out of my hair for a while and I could certainly do with the traffic. So here goes. An iPod with one song on it ('Slo Fuzz', by Sol Sheppy - it's growing on me, btw) to the winner. I'll try to post up the answers as and when they come in in order to save your grey matter from any unecessary exertions in the heat.

1. How did Bobby Darin get his name?

2. Who said "I hope he kicks himself to death" of whom? To whom? John Lennon about Dick Rowe....not sure to whom. Brian

3. First they were The Artistics, then the Autistics. How are they better known today? Talking Heads Brian

4. Ian Dury, Vivian Stanshall, Peter Blake - what links them? They all went to Walthamstow Art College. Betty

5. Who decided the running order of U2's LP The Joshua Tree? What was the methodology behind this sequencing?

6. If you can hear this, you know it's Andy White on drums. What is it? And who's playing it. On which famous debut single? Tambourine played by Ringo Starr on Love Me Do. Brian

7. "He doesn't so much burn the candle at both ends as apply a blow torch to the middle." Who is the Midnight Rambler in question?

8. Who is the link between Hitsville UK and Meatloaf?

9. "By Land, by Sea". Opening salvo of which classic 1980s LP?

10. Run out grooves:

a) "Talent borrows, genius steals"?

b) "Nonsense is better sense at all..."

c) "Elvis is King on This Side Too"

11. Working titles:

a) Emotional Fascism 'Armed Forces' Elvis Costello. Dickley

b) New Music, Night & Day

c) More Fast Numbers

d) A Doll's House
The Beatles [white album] Brian

What did they go on to be?

12. "This man is at the door of Hell...somehow it seems to be his destination after a life of subtle stubbornness. He doesn't expect to find himself waking up out of a dream...he doesn't expect to pinch himself and wake up and that kind of fact, the thought of that happening makes him smile. He's just mildly surprised to find himself there at the door of Hell."

From which classy spoken-word b-side?

13. He was the first to play the very first Elvis Presley single. DJ and the name of the show, please....

14. Instrumental break:

a) What was the wordless b-side of Virginia Plain?

b) Money Changes Everything became a hit single as...? By?

c) Booker T. & the MGs recorded instrumental covers of the whole of the Beatles' Abbey Road LP? What did the Stax outfit call the resultant LP?

15. Bobby Fuller Four cut the original version of "I fought the law" in the 1960s. Bobby Fuller was found dead, bound up and doused in kerosene in the back of his car. What was the coroner's verdict? Bobby Fuller was a suicide wasn't he? [The coronor evidently thought so - novel way to top yourself, mind - dousing yourself in petrol, tying yourself up and then leaping in the boot of a car parked in your garage...] {minion}

16. He played guitar on the original version of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' "Shakin' all over', amongst others...
It wasn't Mick Green. It was session man Joe Moretti (sp?) who's played with just about every bugger under the sun. Richard [Excellent spot - would have fooled a lesser scolar of British beat music than your good self, R.]

17. Key lines:

"If I ever catch that ventriloquist/I'll smash his face right into my fist" Friction by Television. Betty

"I'm sorry I done it, it was wicked and's the book's the cash"

"Add the will to the strength and it equals conviction. As we economise, efficiency is multiplied." The Good Thing, by Talking Heads (from More Songs About Buildings & Food) Brian

"I got a call from my broker. My broker told me I'm broke..."

Artists and songs please.

18. "I was Anthony Newley for a year." Who dat? David Bowie Betty

19. He appeared in A Hard Day's Night and played congas on All Things Must Pass. Apart from that, he's toilet. Just who is this balding prog rock legend? Phil Collins Brian

20. We owe them an eternal debt. They knocked 'Mull of Kintyre' off the number one spot. Who were they, and what was the glorious song?

21. "In the beginning there was one, mmm hmm - himself had just begun, Then came number two, ooh hoo - and that was me and you...." Which much-loathed 70s tunesmith is introducing his third album here?

22. Which two groups appeared on the first 2-Tone single release 1n 1979? Special AKA and The Selecter Betty

23. "...AAAAAYYYYYYAAAAANNNNDEEEEMMMMMM..." We all know and love screeching along to the record label namecheck at the end of the Pistols' EMI. What do the A & M stand for though? Herb Alpert & Jerry (?) Moss? Brian

24. Before she became a national television disgrace, Cilla Black made some more than half-decent records, the best of which by far is her sublime rendition of a song called "I've been wrong before". It's Morrissey's favourite from this particular writer's extensive catalogue. Who is that songsmith?

25. What was unusual about the British Electronic Foundation's early 80s release, Music of Quality & Distinction?

26. "Bon chance, vielen gluck, good luck..." Artist and song please...

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Thursday, 20 July 2006

Plastic Ono Blog...

It's 1982, maybe 1983 - maybe later even than that, this moment lost in the fuzzy video rewind of time. I'm upstairs in my bedroom and I'm playing the tape of John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band LP that Alexa Kesseller has made for me on a 90 minute EMItape. I use the first track to practice my high-register, fullthroat singing technique, belting along with it, trying to ape Lennon's phrasing;


You had me

But I never had you


Wanted you

You didn't want me

It's a heavy song.

So I

Just got to tell you



[he does a wonderful blue note arabesque that stretches the last 'bye' taut with emotion]


You left me

But I never left you


Needed you

You didn't need me

So I

I just got to tell you




Don't do

What I have done


Couldn't walk

And I tried to run

[the 'run' is screwed up in his throat, contorted into 5 or 6 syllables before he grunts the last bit out, like the last, obstinate cling-on of shit.]

So I just got to tell you



At this point, the stately tempo of Ringo's drumming breaks into step with Lennon's churchy piano cascades, tumbling along with the crecendoed mantra of pain he and I will squall out in unison to the fade:

Mama don't go,

Daddy come home

Mama Don't gooo-oh,

Daddy come ho-o-ome

Mama don't gooooooooo-ooohh

DAD-dy come ho-o-ome


Daddy come Home.

[I really let go on this next one]


At this point, I hear my father's key in the door.

"I'm home son," he announces, deadpan, to the stairwell.

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Monday, 17 July 2006

The Jive Dive...

This was a fantastic secondhand record shop in Hampton Hill where Todd Blogney and I misspent our early teenage years, gawping endlessly at the huge King Creole poster they had up and wondering how we were ever going to save up the £7.00 it would cost us to own that copy of the hard-to-find Kid Galahad EP. I remember spending hours sideling around trying to pluck up the courage to ask for a discount on a 70s pressing of A Hard Day's Night - it cost £2.50 and I only had £2.25 with me. Eventually, I braced myself and went up to the gentle, blonde-bequiffed proprietor and asked "could I have a bit off this one please?", to which he replied, "yeah, of course - which bit would you like?"

It was an important part of Blogney's and my childrenhood, and we were devastated when it closed down c. 1979. So you can imagine how pleased I was to see that the fella is now based in Bournemouth and still trading online. I think you all owe it to this kind and splendid soul to go out and buy a turntable just so that you can spend some money on his fabulous collection of vintage records, a scant reward for all the work he did in the late 1970s keeping kids like Blogney and me off the streets and on the straight and narrer....

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Sunday, 16 July 2006


1. Name of band/musician
Roxy Music
2. Are you male or female?
3. Describe yourself
Beauty Queen
4. How do you feel about yourself?
5. Describe your ex-girlfriend/boyfriend
Prairie Rose
6. Describe your current job.
The Bogus Man
7. Describe where you want to be
8. Describe how you live
In Every Dream Home a Heartache
9. Describe how you love
Stronger through the years
10. What would you wish for if you had one wish?
More Than This
11. Share a few words of wisdom.
Baby Jane's in Acapulco, we are flying down to Rio...
12. Now say goodbye.

ta ra

ta ra

ta ra

ta ra

(this post has been brought to you through the wonders of wireless telecommunications....)

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Thursday, 13 July 2006

The Ideas for Novel Generation Scheme...

Like many of you, I am a frustrated writer. Well, maybe that's not strictly true. I want to be a writer and I do, barring those occupational hazards, the blocks and cramps, indeed write. In fact, I find it, on the whole, to be a deeply rewarding and enjoyable enterprise to the extent that it's not really frustrating at all.

What is frustrating is the strange impulse that, once you've written something, leads one to suspect that this perhaps is only part of the deal. There follows the suspicion that one really ought to do something with some of the piles of paper that accrue like wormcasts as a by-product of the writing process - namely to contrive some mechanism by which what you've written might someday be read by other people. This, as many of us are finding out, is where blogs come in useful. Unfortunately, unless you are Belle de Jour or The Huffington Post or The Grauniad, spiritually uplifting though they may be, they don't really pay in a commercial sense.

To complicate matters further, I seem to be one of those people who, as Brian Eno put it, prefers making plans to executing them. This inability to see things through may be an advantage in journalism, where the half-baked and un-thought through are actively encouraged, if not actually de rigeur - but it is somewhat of an impediment when it comes to the business of writing a novel. Consequently, my personal paper piles abound with the single sheet synopsis and the encouraging first chapter taken no further. Anything more substantial is normally the result of some grandiose attempt to cobble these unfinished fragments together in some ghastly uber-narrative (usually narrated by a some saucy female book editor with a penchant for a diveres portfolio of sexual fetishes, as it goes).

But then it struck me: what better outlet for these poorly formed, but potentially fecund (not to mention money-spinning) seeds-of-a-novel than the blogosphere? Surely, out there in ether-space, there must be my mirror image - a master technician who can rattle off 400,000 words with the same ease with which Paula Radcliffe runs marathons (well, until she collapses in a spindly heap on the roadside, blubbing her arse off, that is...) but whose work lacks the spark of originality, the left of field brilliance abundant in these bookish homunculi. In short, all I need, is to post 'em up and s/he will come - the Paul McCartney to my John Lennon.

So here goes - the first in what could be a lengthy series. Or not.

It's All Dick.

The plot:

It's January 1962. As the snow piles up knee-deep all over smoggy London Town, an unsigned group from Liverpool triumphantly bring down the curtain on their audition for Decca Records. Dick Rowe likes what he hears. "Groups of guitars are the way ahead - I think they're FAB!" he tells the group's manager, Mr. Brian Epstein. Within a month, the band's debut single 'The Sheik of Araby' is filling the nation's remaindered baskets.

After three more similarly underwhelming releases, the band decide to jack it in and leave global domination to the Dave Clark Five whose 'Tottenham sound' is driving Britain's youth to an earsplitting pitch of manic hysteria. It's back to the dole queues for the never-to-be-fab-four as Harold Wilson's slump in the polls ushers in another half century of hidebound, scandal-ridden tory rule.

As Dave Clark and the other four board their Pan Am flight bound for New York to conquer America, news hits the wires that Lee Harvey Oswald, the man whose unsuccessful Presidential assasination attempt has been the main talking point in the US for the last three months, could be released by 1970 with good behaviour. The increasingly troubled administration is coming under fire from all sides as the number of 'military advisors' being despatched to Vietnam reaches 100,000 and the circumstantial evidence linking JFK to the deaths of Marilyn Monroe, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Cassius Clay becomes ever harder to refute.

His controversial decision - announced during an emotional speech in the divided city of Hamburg (think about it....) - to divert funding for the embryonic US space programme to the Asian theatre of war serves to strengthen the belief that this is a Presidency on the rocks...

Next step: Just run with it...

The Pitch for dimwitted agents/editors: SSGB jamming with Revolution in the Head...

Would be a good vee-hikle for?: Brian? dh? Len Deighton?

Who would play whom in the made for TV version?:

Dick Rowe: Tom Hanks

Dave Clark: Robert Downey Jr.

The Other Four: Franz Ferdinand.

Harold Wilson: Miriam Margolis.

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Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Subscribe to The Robert Swipe Show...

Not sure if this will work or not, but I've just added a "subscribe to The Robert Swipe Show" button on the right hand side, just under the "I power Blogger" logo. I was just wondering if one of you kind souls out there would mind awfully just giving it a go and then letting me know if I've set it up correctly. I've put it in this post as well, to spare you poor, long suffering wrist(s).....

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Vielen dank.

(BTW: IT'S FREE!!!!!)

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At 827 pages, it's a bit too vast (or "heavily brilliant", as Amis aptly describes it) to blog on in one post, so here's a couple of extracts from Don DeLillo's Underworld that hit home today.

This first section concerns a 16 year old grafitti artist called Moonman 157 who used to walk along the subway tracks as a child and saw the legend "Bird [i.e. Charlie Parker] Lives" scrawled in one of the tunnels. He now paints street art on subway carriages and trains:

Nobody could take him down. He kinged every artist in town....

...But you have to stand on a platform and see it coming or you can't know the feeling a writer gets, how the number 15 train comes roaring down the rat alleys and slams out of the tunnel, going whop-pop onto the high tracks, and suddenly there it is, Moonman riding the sky in the heart of the Bronx, over the whole burnt and rusted country, and this is the art of the backstreets talking, all the way from Bird, and you can't not see us anymore, you can't not know who we are, we got total notoriety now, Momzo Tops and Rimester and me, we're getting fame, we ain't ashame, and the train go rattling over the garbagy streets and past the dead-eye windows of all those empty tenements that have people living there even if you don't see them, but you have to see our tags and cartoon figures and bright and rhyming poems, this is the art that can't stand still, it climbs across your eyeballs night and day, flickery jumping art of the slums and dumpsters, flashing those colours in your face - like I'm your movie, motherfucker.

And isn't this precisely what's happened in the States over the last few years (remember, this was published in 1997):

The power of an event can flow from its unresolvable heart, all the cruel and elusive elements that don't add up, and it makes you do odd things, and tell stories to yourself, and build believable worlds.

Dialogue like this:

Over on the radio side the producer's saying "See that thing in the paper last week about Einstein?"

Engineer says, "What Einstein?"

"Albert, with the hair...."

I really can't recommend it highly enough.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Around the World in Eighty Blogs...

Ro-Mo, Billy and Patroclus have all blogged on the concept that rather than the wonderful, globe spanning tool for progressive human integration we all like to think it is, the blogosphere is little more than a talking shop for the erudite Northern hemisphere middle classes fortunate enough to be employed by people who don't seem to mind if you don't actually do anything all day. It's an interesting hypothesis and, since I seem to be the only one on here who takes the scientific appraisal of these things remotely seriously (although it does help if you actually are employed by people who don't seem to mind if you don't actually do anything all day), I thought I'd test the theory, seemingly proved by Patroclus that clicking on 'next blog" is little more taxing or global than a short trot 'round to the newsagent for some oversize rizla papers and a copy of Esquire:

"I was astonished, and probably a bit more excited than is healthy, to find that I made it back fairly easily from two random blogs to Billy's; one in 15 hops, and one in 8."

So, with only a barrel of brown ale and a box of tissues, I set off with my trusty Passeportoute to see if I could get back to Oye Billy's place in 80 jumps or less. Here is what I found on the way:

Baby life, dog days

(....."30 year old wife and mother, ex-workaholic/city chick retired into a world of babies, dogs and mayhem." There's hope for me yet then......)

Doomed Troll

(....."For one so small,you seem so strong My arms will hold you keep you safe and warm This bond between us can’t be broken I will be here don’t you cry----Phil Collins".....ah hem....)

Blog dos Podres


Destiny: Die for you

(.....Written in txt, mnly.....)

Hermana Kucera

(....Argentinian. Speaks better English than anyone on Love Island, that's for sure...)

The 'Nam Navy US Veteran Viet Blog

(...a barrel of laughs...)

My Life - Ups, Downs and Curveballs....

(......"I just blog because it makes me feel better and I don't expect anyone to read it. I just want to be happy. 'nuff said..." Nuff said indeed - good on ya, Castaway....)


(...not much there, is there?)

Stirring E. Witch's Cauldron

(...written in text lingo...sorry txt lngo...)

Leaving Salonica


His, Mine and Ours

(....pregnancy minutiae...)

Couldn't make out what this one was called but she's rather fit

(...make that very fit.....)

Can't make it out, it's in Arabic





Podria Pasarte a Ti

(...foreign - this is getting a bit boring now...)

Silent Tears

(...teen angst....)

Berneice World

(....schoool kid - are they allowed to blog??)

Vanessza Z-Blog

(...brand new...)

A Last Attempt at Love <3

(.....No, go on! Give it a 4th try!!......)

DJ Andrez Webplace

(....self explanatory?.....)


(...weh hey! First spam site. Couldn't you read that auto generated text for hours??.....)


(...all written in boxes...quite interesting, actually....)

Miami Dreams

(...first post - "Love problems". Pur-lease...)

Erti Sebuah Kehidupan

(...foreign again...)

Ting Ting Bilong Mi

(...Japanese "hospotal"[sic]/drinking too much woes. Best yet....)

Home Inn


Custom Perfume

(......."Everyone deserves a perfumed version of their life's story. That's what I do."....)





A House Filled With Romance

(.....Oriental slush...)

Sunflower March

(...."n Thursday, a group report which Ms. Leyda gave us is due, so our group met on Monday during lunch time and discussed how to finish the report"....Is anyone else getting bored of this now? I certainly am...)

The Provincial Emails

(...rather earnest....)

The Way of Maple

(.....Teenage Manga Turtles...)

The Great Game

(...Canadian. Earnest.....)

Coffee Maverick

(....."After what seemed like half a year, I finally fell back into my dark state of depression.".......Moving swiftly on....)

Me Against the World

(...Irish. Horsey.....)

The Adventures of Gigi

(.....not as interesting as it sounds, lads....)

Clare & Keith

(....quide liderally "Celebrating the Marriage of.... Clare Elizabeth... ".....)

Outside the Lines

(...."Martha [Stewart] makes everything - except perhaps prison (and her own hair) -look stylish" At last - a proper blog!....)

Not Dead Yet!

(....."The diary of an oldie who refuses to go quietly" Today's entry just says "Pissed!" - fantastic!!)


(....Foreign. Teen.....)

Blog Job

(....."e con l'ombretto la bandiera...ovviamente avevo anche la canotta bianca con la scritta "Italia" foto fa cagare...."....)

Wulfy's Den

(...."I'm on the downward spiral. Everything I do seems to be crap. I can do nothing correctly." 'Fraid it doesn't get much better once you hit 40, Wulfy...)

Pagina de Walter Eudes

(.....Great title alert - get scribbling all you aspiring novelists out there.....)

Expatriot Act

(.....Today's post is called "Dead Girl on Campus"....Librarians, eh?)


(.....One post. Get in on the ground floor, why don't ya?...)



My Life's sense

(....."I'm 24. I'm not married. I'm looking for a girlfriend."...There you go, Spin....)

Another one in Arabic

Receitas de Culinaria

(...lovely recipes. If you happen to speak foreign...)

Must be Chinese

(....don't mention Tianenmen Square....)

Alvin in Europe

(....."my i really look so young?...bumped into my neighbour..and the first guess she 20! liao.."
....Lucky old Alv....)

Michele Vecchiato's Blog

(....Smug. Italian.....)

Bez Filtru

(.....Former Warsaw Pact?....)

Boston Maggie

(...American. Historical....)


(....Subtitle: "some very incorrect thoughts!" At last, someone not afraid to call a spade a nigger minstrel....)

Il Blog di Rubentes Oculi

(.....more Italian smugness...)

The Broken Smile

(...."God will not shut the door
without opening another." Right-ho.....)

Adventures of a Good Girl

(.....Just my luck. Where's Adventures of a Bad Girl when you need her???....)

Rayners Dream

(....."I think I really made a mistake,gone too far this time.My actions had hurt someone,deeply this time.If only I had listened to Matt's advice this would not have happened.I really regret and learnt my lesson,but however I think it is too late........I think that person hates me now........" Well, the 'Buie can get you like that sometimes, Ray. Will they be able to remove the Barbie Doll?....)

Still no site of familiar land after 80 blogs.....

Billy! Where are you??? I'm lost!! HHHHHH-EEEEEEE-LLLLLLLL-PPPPPPPP!!!!!!

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Love Island/Zidane...

I get a lift part of the way home with Andy and Val. "So, how will you fill your time now?", Andy asks just before dropping me off. I fear momentarily that we've miraculously fast-forwarded to that bleak-imagined future: I live alone and, when I'm not pissing myself or falling down the stairs or being beaten up by some ruffian for my measly pension book (if I could even remember where I'd left the bloody thing in the first place), the highlights of my existence come in the form of the the twice weekly meals on wheels delivery and re-runs of Brian Mathews' Sounds of the Sixties every Saturday morning (see previous post). Then the penny drops: he means how will I fill my time now the World Cup's over? This is even more serious than the bleak-imagined future I just bleakly imagined. How will I fill my time now??

There's the DeLillo book, of course - although I'm edging disturbingly close to being halfway through that now. Another 500 pages and things could get decidedly dodgy. But then just as I'm coming to a convenient page break, up pops salvation in the unlikely form of (what used to be Celebrity but is now just plain) Love Island. In fact, so compelling is this most insidious of reality shows, that it's been on an hour or so before I realise that I haven't made any notes (sorry, but it's the only way I can remember anything at all nowadays. Sad, isn't it?) For what they're worth, here are those I did make:

Alicia: a blonde, slightly over-inflated Kate O'Mara blow-up doll.

Fearne "roots woman, roots!" Cotton.

Leo: "proper porno noises"

[ Leo & Alicia's canoe capsizes:]

Leo: "My eyes!!"

Alicia: "My hair!!!!"

Chris Brosnan: Frederick Forrest and Mick Jagger's test-tube love child.

Lee: George Formby, aged 8.

S. demanding a bounty bar every 12 minutes, thus proving the total susceptibility of TV audiences to repetitive advertising campaigns.

Lee: I worry about what people think about me."

Me: "So you bloody well should. Toss flaps."

Shane: "...a hench boy.." [??]

Colleen: Blonde, American, lots of teeth.

T-square bed dividers.

No, it doesn't make much sense to me either.... Maybe it's not all that good after all. Oh well, I'm sure we'll find out over the next 7 weeks......

A quick word on Zidane. Step aside from the media furore for a moment and ponder this:

When they turn out the lights and retire to that gently humming silence, the one each of us retreats to before we are levelled in sleep, has Marco Materazzi, winner's medal snug beneath his pillow, that much more reason for pride than Zinedine Zidane?

If one had to choose to step into the shoes of either of these men, which would it be? Would you want to live with the endless replays of that sly nipple tweak? The lazily tossed wind-ups? Wishing "an ugly death" on Zidane and all his family? Then the sudden apprehension, the fear in your eyes, like that of a schoolboy who, having pushed a teacher further than he has any right to, is then confounded when confronted not by the usual handwringing and pleas for good behaviour but by the prospect of direct and immediate retribution from another moral sphere entirely. Or would you rather live with that "shame of Zidane" loop? A career of greatness forever eclipsed (or perhaps defined?) by one swift and brutal Samurai head bow; hitmanlike in its economy and efficiency; more unanswerable even than the referee's solemnly raised red and endlessly replayed like a highway shooting caught by a flukey camcorder.

There was, amid all the talk and bluster (you must admit) a terrible beauty to it.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Monday, 10 July 2006

Received from my Auntie Barbara via e-mail...

Paul McCartney was being interviewed, and one of the presenters cheekily asked him, 'So Sir Paul, do you think you'll ever go down on one knee again'.

There was an uncomfortable silence, and then Paul frostily said:



Thanks Barb.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Soul Deep/Fallen Angel...

There's nothing like a bit of Graham/Gram confusion of a Friday night is there? A glorious double bill of music programmes on Beeb 4 spoiled only by poor talking head selection and funk/country legend name pismronunciation. First up, Soul Deep - a great excuse for S. and I to practice our "James Brown" impersonation, as patented by Mark Lamaar. (Lamaar tells the story of how when he met James Brown he'd been instructed by S.B. #1's entourage to call him 'Mr. Brown'. Doing so, he was met with J.B.'s response "thaz James Brown" - as if it could really be anyone else....) Done by us, it's a sort of very loud, strangulated (and usually very drunken) shriek: "JAZE BRAU!!" A fabulous and pithy survey of the politicisation of soul music through the late 60s and early 70s, Soul Deep only slipped up when they got to Sly & the Family Stone. How many times do we have to tell these guys? It's not Larry Graham! It's pronounced GRAM!! (How else do you think that Graham Central Station gag gig is going to work??)

I have a great tape GCS made for me by old Uncle Gweekers. It's called The Absolute Dog's Bollocks of Graham Central Station and features their finest 8 1/2 minutes. It's a track called 'The Jam', and on it the band take turns to introduce themselves individually before soloing in the accepted overwrought 70s progressive tradition. The highlights are many - the fey and evidently gay Choc'late (funk box) spelling out his name after (by the sounds of it he is) writhing around naked groaning "o-o-o-o-n t-h-e f-u-u-u-n-n-n-k-k b-o-o-o-x-x-x, for several minutes then treating us to what sounds like the naffest ever automated drum pattern you get on bontempi organs occasionally interupted by a rhythical version of that farting sound you can make with your armpit. But special mention has to be made of their oriental drummer, Manuel "The Deacon" Kellough. His bit goes something like this (in a bizarre, over-the-top Chinaman "aah so" voice): "aaaaaah sobuddy coy. Gweetings. I wam not one of you. But I hopwing make you one off wus. My name is Wanuel. They caw me the Weacon. But when I pway my wums, you know why they caw me...... Man-u-wal" (he plays metronomically: boom ba cha, boom cha. boom ba cha, boom cha....)

Even Larry's spazztastic fuzz bass solo can't quite top that.

And he wasn't Graham Parsons, FFS! Does Graham Parsons sound like the kinda guy could melt your heart in the middle of winter with a bar or two of Hot Burrito #1?? Still, at least Keef was on hand, a navajo female impersonator resplendent in kohl pencil and rasta poodle rug, recounting how he talked Gram out of the Byrds gig in South Africa because they'd be playing to segregated audiences. "That sounds just like Alabama", Parsons replied, evidently shocked by the global preponderence of racist regimes. He knows his Grams from his Grahams, does Keef. In every sense. Spoilt aristo, or intuitive, transcendantal Country music saviour? the programme seemed to ask. Despite the varied testimony of family and friends, no one seemed to get as close to summing up the enigma that was GP as his former roadie Phil Kaufman. "If Gram was alive today, he'd still be dead...." claimed Kaufman. The guy who stole his body, saving it from the straight entombment his family had planned for it, sending him off instead as he would have wanted to go pretty much summed up the deathwish there, methinks. Doused in kerosene, the wind swirling across the Joshua Tree National Park hurling his flaming embers up towards that great 32nd floor in the sky, we can only hope that he really was dead.

Reading Don DeLillo's Underworld. It is fantastic. If you thought that 827 pages on a fictional lingerie factory in Weatherfield was too much, think again....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Friday, 7 July 2006

Visit number 32,488...

Domain Name ? (Network)
IP Address ##.##.##.# (Shaw Communications)
ISP Shaw Communications
Location Continent : North America
Country : Canada (Facts)
State/Region : British Columbia
City : Victoria
Lat/Long : 48.4333, -123.35 (Map)

Language English (United States)
Operating System Microsoft WinXP
Browser Firefox
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20060508 Firefox/
Javascript version 1.5
Monitor Resolution : 800 x 600
Color Depth : 16 bits

Time of Visit Jul 7 2006 9:52:14 am
Last Page View Jul 7 2006 11:27:03 am
Visit Length 1 hour 34 minutes 49 seconds
Page Views 9
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Visit Entry Page
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Visitor's Time Jul 7 2006 6:52:14 am
Visit Number 32,488

1 hour 34 minutes 49 seconds???

Obsessive behaviour?

(Or love?)

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

The N.H. Bloody S...

So, as I was saying, I had the great pleasure of an evening in the pub garden of the only pub in Teddytown I have yet to be barred from (sorry, that should read 'had yet to be barred from') with "Meestah Tray-cey" (that's not his real name, btw) and A. Radiographer (that is his) and after the obligatory 5 rounds of Shepherd's Knees finest scrumping ale, we started the serious drinking and got to reminiscing. (It's amazing how three supposedly intelligent men could, over the years, have had such difficulty distinguishing an outlandishly gay pub from a more conventional hostelry, isn't it?)

But then, as the evening, like our thought processes, grew dim and awash with irritating insects, we retired to the snug bar where we heard the sorry tale of A. Radiographer's work travails, as aluded to in the previous post. Without going into too much detail (I wouldn't wish to prejudice the disciplinary procedures that are already underway - it would be quite an unthinkable miscarriage of employment law were he to remain in charge of the Christmas raffle funds after last year's fiasco through my compromising the evidence here..), A. cut a sorry figure. Here before us was a man, once of boundless talent, integrity and principle, but now reduced to a seething mess of frustration and impotence, hamstrung by the twin idiocies of modern bureaucracy and the incomprehensible neologisms of 21st century management-speak and practice (..although oddly enough, I know plenty of other senior health care professionals who have no such difficulty using an Automated Teller Machine....)

Suffice to say that the two-tier service many of us have feared is no longer a distant threat. Successive aggressively monetarist governments, driven by a malicious ideology of liberalisation have imposed rampant market-driven reforms that have led to what is now a privatised service in all but name - and don't think the Tories shouldn't shoulder some of the blame, either.

In response, I happened upon this section from Jonathan Coe's The House of Sleep in which a collection of experienced surgeons, GPs and specialists attend a "Motivating for Change Course":

Now the two course trainers appeared. Their faces were fresh and unformed, and they wore identical, closely fitting Jaeger suits. Each appeared to be in his early twenties and had the vacantly shining eyes of the evangelical zealot.

'Hi: I'm Tim Simpson,' the first one said.

'And I'm Mark McGuire.'

Tim Simpson explained that he had recently returned from a year in Minnesota, where he had majored in Organisational Change at Duluth University. Mark McGuire, on the other hand, boasted a diploma in Group Relations, Meeting Planning and Human Resource Development from the University of Milton Keynes.

'And we're here to talk about change,' said Tim Simpson.

He turned over the first page of a flip-chart, and pointed at the word 'CHANGE', which was written in foot-high capitals.

'That's right,' said Mark McGuire. 'Change is a scary word. And for many of you, these are scary times.' He turned over the next page of the flip-chart, and pointed at the words 'SCARY TIMES'.

'Many of you will be afraid of change,' said Tim Simpson. 'Some of you will even be angry about it. But our message to you over the next two days is going to be - use that fear; work that anger; and above all -'

He glanced at Mark McGuire, who turned over the flip-chart again as they both chanted, in unison 'EMBRACE THE CHANGE.'

Later in the sequence, Coe finds bitter irony in the fact that the most senior practitioner present is forced, by attending the course, to miss an important Home Office meeting at which his presence would have prevented a violent socio/psychopath from being released into the community.

Sound familiar?

The House of Sleep was first published in 1997. I think we've all been sleeping, haven't we?

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Chuck Palahniuk's 13 Tips for Writers...

I'm intuiting here, but it seems that things are not too good with my virtual acquaintance Dickley Head. Why do I think this? First, he posts depressing Larkin poems that send me and everyone else who read them to the edge of Institutionalisation - I mean, it may be the truth that we're all gonna die and life is trivial, painful and far too short, and where grimmer to rot amid stacks of porn hidden under copies of the Library Association Record than Hull University Library (or anywhere in Hull for that matter) and all that, but come on - there's a world cup on!

Then there were the grudging, noncomittal, 'see if I care', 'whatever', 'what difference does it make, we're all gonna die anyway'Mark-Lawrenson-on-a-particularly-bad-day-style comments. And now, today's threat that he 'let it all hang out' (see comments for previous post) has proved to be a sign that urgent action is needed (he doesn't specify what's gonna be hanging out and this has to be of great concern - especially to those of us in built up areas....) All in all, what with A. Radiographer's depressing account last night of the workings of the NHS (PLC) - more on which, laters - I think we could do with some cheering up. So, in honour of dh's love of (I'm presuming) American Cult (yes, that's the correct speeling) author Chuck Palahniuk, I'm going to post up over the next fortnight, the great man (that's Chuck, b.t.w.)'s 13 tips for writers. Then we'll all be able to give up this pointless blogging lark and get paid handsomely to write pointless and pithy pieces on Balinese table mats for the New Yorker.

Here's part 1:

13 Tips for Writers

Number One:

Two years ago, when I wrote the first of these essays it was about my "egg timer method" of writing. You never saw that essay, but here's the method: When you don't want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings. If you still hate writing, you're free in an hour. But usually, by the time that alarm rings, you'll be so involved in your work, enjoying it so much, you'll keep going. Instead of an egg timer, you can put a load of clothes in the washer or dryer and use them to time your work. Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don't know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come.

Way to go, Chuck!!

So, come on! Let's rally 'round Dickley here, bearing in mind that, as he's a day ahead of us (check his timeline if you don't believe me...), he'll know the results of the Wimbledon & World Cup finals before we do! Give us the nod, dh, and we'll be straight down the turf accountant's to put our life savings on the winners!!

See - I told you it would all work out in the end....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Thursday, 6 July 2006

It is now illegal to read the Independent...

I had to drop my normal, calculated mask of indifference to the machinations of contemporary politics on reading this post on Ceridwen Devi's site. Obviously, reading the Independent is not to be recommended at the best of times (I mean, does anyone have ANY idea what they're going on about most of the time??), but to do so - quite shamelessly, as this dozy tart did - so close to the Prime Minister's house and so near the anniversary of the week on which HIDEOUSLY WARPED BRITISH-BORN MUSLIMS BLEW THEMSELVES UP ON LONDON TRANSPORT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THAT'S NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WAR IN IRAQ (that's deliberately shouty, btw..), well, it just beggars belief, doesn't it?

Fortunately, thanks to that nice Mr. Blair, there's now a law against it - reading the Indy, that is - not hideously warped British-born Muslims blowing themselves up on London Transport because of something that's nothing to do with the war in Iraq (although it is illegal to glamorise them once they have, apparently. Which must take some doing...) Initially, there will be a trial period during which the self-styled "It is, are you?" newspaper will only be banned within a 5 mile exclusion area of the PM's pad. And Colchester. Then it is hoped to roll this zone out, much in the manner of the Congestion Charge and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott (well, he has to be good for something, doesn't he?), to the rest of the south east and parts of Scotland before Christmas. Analysts predict that the Independent will have been completely outlawed before the 2012 Olympics. That'll slow that James "Bloody" Lawton down...

A step in the right direction in the war against terror, I'm sure you'll agree - although I can't help thinking that they might have been better off banning The Cuntiad first. Still, it's surely only a matter of time....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Readers' Survey...

I'm thinking of changing my name to Robin Spandit.

What do you think?

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Monday, 3 July 2006


A poem by Hugo Williams...

I wonder will I speak to the girl
sitting opposite me on this train.
I wonder will my mouth open and say,
'Are you going all the way
to Newcastle?' or 'Can I get you a coffee?'
Or will it simply go 'aaaaah'
as if it had a mind of its own?

Half closing eggshell blue eyes,
she runs her hand through her hair
so that it clings to the carriage cloth,
then slowly frees itself.
She finds a brush and her long fair hair
flies back and forth like an African fly-whisk,
making me feel dizzy.

Suddenly, without warning,
she packs it all away in a rubber band
because I have forgotten to look out
the window for a moment.
A coffee is granted permission
to pass between her lips
and does so eagerly, without fuss.

A tunnel finds us looking out the window
into one another's eyes. She leaves her seat,
but I know that she likes me
because the light saying 'TOILET'
has come on, a sign that she is lifting
her skirt, taking down her pants
and peeing all over my face.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

England 0, Portugal 0 (Portugal win 3-1 on Penalties)/ Brazil 0, France 1...

"...and England sad, sad, sadly are out..."

(I know, I know - that was Brian Moore in '98, not Motty in '06. I just didn't make notes for this game so it's all a bit hazy.) Of course the signs were all there. The Ramones' 'Glad to see you go' comes up on God-is-in-the-i-pod, just as I'm nearing A. Radiographer's place. Mrs. Radiographer tells us that the two lovely Radiographer daughters previewed the game on their magnetic, shove ha'penny style football board game. Portugal won. The Beeb's latest graphic - a flash timelapse CGI reconstruction that literally puts the flesh on the bone of the leg with which Wayne Rooney will ultimately decide the contest, reduces A. Radiographer to an even more stupefied state than normal. "Is that what you do all day at work when you should be saving lives?" demands Mrs. R., quite rightly donning her irate taxpayer's hat as she notes the envious schoolboy grin spreading over his face at this piece of radiographic wizardry. "They won't let me", he broods. Only we're not to know then that Wayne - or Wan, as Sven prefers to pronounce it at his valedictorey press conference (who says his English lacks nuance and descriptive power?) - will use the most lovingly nurtured metatarsal in Christendom to stab a stud deep into Ricardo Carvalho's prone gonad. Laudable though that may be, it's best done in the privacy of the changing room rather than directly beneath the gaze of the referee (George Peppard).

It all plays out rather dully for an hour, indeed England seem to have the better of it before Wan (Phil Mitchell) has his set to with Carvalho (Andy Kaufmann). Portuguese coach 'Big Phil' Scolari (James Finlayson, without the squint) is the more animated of the two coaches. At the time, A. Radiographer and I speculate as to whether the downcast Beckham had been ordered by Sven (he really is Mr. Burns, isn't he?) to limp off after 5 minutes of the second half as a way of saving face - disguising the tactical switch the entire nation has been baying for since the tournament began. On reflection, he looks genuinely gutted - even more so at the press gathering where he will falteringly (and quite movingly) read out his decision to step down as England captain, like a shy schoolboy reading his what-I-did-in-the-holidays essay out loud in front of the school.

England immediately improve as Beckham's replacement, Aaron Lennon (Sam Cooke), starts to run at the Portuguese defence, creating several chances that England can't convert. Hargreaves (Robert Downey Jr. as Chaplin) is everywhere, winning over the England fans who had cruelly pilloried the poor fellow just because he looks German and sounds like a frat boy. (Alright, they had every reason to, but he is playing superbly...)And then, on the hour, Wan Rooney sees the red mist, stamping down in frustration at one of the two Portuguese players who've been hanging off his shirt for the past minute. Christiano Ronaldo (Elian Gonzalez) appears to be pressing the referee to take action. Incensed, Wan gives his alleged Man Utd. colleague a pathetic little push (well, he has to put up with him every day in training - we only see him on the telly where it's impossible to give the little runt the slap that even the otherwise Christian and law-abiding Mrs. R. feels his smug little cherub face deserves) Whether for this or the earlier bollock piercing, Rooney is despatched to take his early bath and with him go England's hopes, straight down the plughole.

So, the game grinds on. Joe Cole (Ian Dury) is replaced by Peter Crouch (an elongated Martin Chivers), who does well and we start to ponder the many what ifs. What if we'd had another manager. Who'd thought it prudent to have a couple of strkers in the squad. Or we'd been born in Lisbon. Still, England seem better with 10 men, perhaps an indication of their discomfort with the straightjacketing, midfielder-heavy system they've been playing for most of the tournament in order to accomodate their star players.

And so, with Portugal saving themselves for a last minute flourish against the thoroughly exhausted and outmanned English, the game drifts towards the inevitable ignominy of the "shoe doubt" (TM J. Klinsmann, 2006) It will fall on one of the 'keepers, Paul Robinson (a shaven headed Tony Selby) or Ricardo (Rock Hudson) to be the hero of the day. The result is already known, deep down in most English hearts. Will the players be able to resist coming to the same conclusion - especially in the knowledge that even if they do get through this, they will face the even strerner tests ahead without two of their best players, the suspended Wan Rooney and John Terry (a thin, male Kathy Burke)? The two Radiographer girls hide behind their mother. (I have this effect on young children for some reason - especially when proferring a bag of boiled sweets/a photo of cute puppies/ponies etc.)

Up they step:

Simao (Richard Dreyfuss) - scores.

Lampard (Tony Hadley) - misses.

Viano (Robert Lindsay) - misses.

Hargreaves - scores.

Petit (Robbie from Eastenders) - misses.

Gerrard (The Streets) - misses.

Postiga (Dhani Harrison) - scores.

Carragher (Dick York) - scores. Retakes. Misses. Elaborately.

It's left to everyone's favourite exponent of the step-over, Christiano Ronaldo (Elian Gonzales playing Hannibal Lector) to grimace, gurn, kiss the ball, compose himself, gulp, sneer, scamper, hesitate, before blasting the ball high into the net past the hapless Robinson.

Walking home, I'm struck by the angry, set faces of the red and white shirted England fans as they trudge back from boozer and barbeque, their dreams of glory fizzled out for another four years. I used to take it that seriously but I can't anymore. It's such a daft time to be playing football, the summer, isn't it? Like playing cricket in a monsoon.

Fortunately, the sublime Zidane is on hand to provide one of the greatest World Cup performances I can recall seeing. His touch is on song today and he ghosts and slaloms past three Brazilians in the first minute as a startling signal of intent. Brazil never really recover, it's like they've seen a ghost. Perhaps they have. He is virtually faultless on the night, everything he does is productive, and he looks like someone savouring a delicious meal, each sublime piece of skill like a joyful, affirmative burp, full of pleasure, ease - grace even. Each game could be his last and it seems to be bringing out such truly great form in him. The narrative seems clear - can Zizou supply this wonderful tournament with the ultimate fairy tale ending and go on to lift the trophy? He's the icing on the cake of the most potent midfield in the tournament - Vieira, Makelele and Ribery, with Zizou they're a sort of footballing equivalent of Booker T & the MGs - white and black, grooving in harmony. And then there's Thierry Henry. They will take some stopping, I fancy. Allez les bleus!

S. wakes me up at 2:40 am. I'm sprawled out on the sofa.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Saturday, 1 July 2006

Ukraine 0, Italy 3…

Fresh from the astonishing excitement of the conclusion of the Germany v Argentina game, it was inevitable that the least compelling of the quarter finals would struggle even further to match its top billing in the TV schedules. Only a rerun of Italy’s infamous 1962 World Cup tie with Chile in which several people died and even the referee got stuck in could have matched the riotous scenes that greeted Argentina’s exit from the tournament. Too sluggish (or squeamish?), the German TV production team had failed to capture the one image that even the most hardened PC plodder over at the Cuntiad would give a wheelbarrow filled with hard currency to see – those Argentinian boots hurtling horizontally through the air to pole axe a victorious German centre back. Even the normally prudish Beeb did their best, dedicating as much screen time in their highlights package to the aftermath as to the events leading up to Germany’s latest triumph in the lottery that is the penalty shoot out.

Or “shoe doubt”, as the German coach, Jurgen “California Uber Alles” Klinsmann pronounced it in the post bout interview. We’ve all had that, haven’t we? Well, maybe not the Italians. As well as being top of the shoe tree, they seem to be doing an uncanny impersonation of England – sneaking surreptitiously through the tournament. Let’s hope England can join them later today, perched on a rooftop overlooking the final in the manner of an expectant cat burglar. They may need to deploy some of the darker arts to get past the Germans next week, but last night we saw the best of Italian football.

There is one other positive that accompanies their progress to the last four: we are guaranteed to hear their wonderful anthem once more. A 90 second operetta whose enthusiastic group rendition tells you as much about Italy’s cultural heritage as our moronic, half-Nelson induced mug along to ‘God Save the Queen’ does ours. There’s a wonderful, dramatically hushed section that builds up to the anthem’s rousing conclusion during which I expect someone with a moustache wearing a white vest and jeans, wielding a truncated microphone to step out of the shadows singing “I see a little sillouett-o of a man…” but they never do. The Ukrainian anthem translates as “Glory has not perished”. Right-oh.

We pan along the gorgeous conglomeration of rogues and rascals that is Team Italia. Totti (a young, handsome Harry H. Corbett), Gattuso (Eddie Izzard with beard), Camorenesi (Pete Burns immersed in a Geisha fetish) Luca Toni (a thin Gyles Brandreth), Zambrotta (Bepe from Eastenders) Pirlo (various members of Aerosmith too numerous to name), Grosso (Danny Kaye) ‘keeper Buffon (Larry Grayson) and captain Cannavaro (Dennis Wise). A strong side, even without the talismanic Alessandro del Piero (The Boss) It falls to Cannavaro and Ukrainian skipper Shevchenko to read two FIFA prepared statements urging the world to reject racism and discrimination and embrace the spirit of unity embodied by the game. Despite the evident irony of the proud ranks of non-whites lined up at the captains’ sides, it is still kind of moving. I fancy today’s pronouncements by Beckham and Figo will carry more weight. Beckham’s will certainly be a giggle, if nothing else. The semi finals will, I’m told, be dedicated to the concept of ‘No-Nukes’. Will the Boss be playing in the warm up? (That’s the real Bruce Springsteen, not del Piero, btw…)

So the game kicks off at the impressive home of Hamburg SV, where legends such as Kevin Keegan (Kevin Keegan) and Uwe Seeler (Brian Glover) once plied their trade. We get the obligatory shots of the Reeperbahn and the Star Club and the blue plaque to designate the precise spot where Woody Goldblum lost his wallet in November 1994 (that piece of elastic couldn’t last forever, Woody, could it?) And then the game kicks off, Zambrotta picks up a flick from “lovely Totti” (someone said it, it’s in my notes…), powers on and strikes a low drive that flies on, clacking the keeper’s wrist like a rattle on its way to the bottom right corner. The Ukrainian players can’t seem to get going. Shevchenko (Michael Stipe) is easily contained. The rest of the team whiz by in a blur of Jonathan Pearce’s impeccable pronunciation. Mzzssmmnatchy, Tmorrschuck, to the extent that when two syllabled Rusol (Clem Burke) is seen surrounded by medics in a haze of dry ice with an injured foot, I fear that I will be unable to complete the article should Ukraine perform a heroic comeback.

Halftime. We’re treated to Hanson, Leonardo and O’Neill. What were Ukraine like? (“Hopeless” – O’Neill). And how will Italy approach the second half? (“Protect, protect, protect” – Hanson) We see Italian manager Fransesco Lippi (Father Ted in the one where he wears the Fake Hands, remote controlling Father Jack's wheelchair in the 5-a-side competition) Then comes the bombshell we’d all feared. Argentinian manager Peckerman (Richard Gere) has resigned. A former taxi driver, he’s turned his back on a £100,000 P.A. salary. “He could have doubled that if he’d been prepared to go south of the river…” quips Lineker. Rio Ferdinand (Jonathan King, thin and with cornrows) talks up England’s chances against Portugal. “Will Portugal miss the suspended Deco and Costinho?” asks Garth Crooks (the Yoda) “No”, replies Rio, his huge grin somewhat belying the truthfulness of his answer.

The second half. Ukraine have a succession of chances, hit the bar and see shots saved on the line. With cruel inevitability, Italy score. Game over. They score again. Semi finals, here we come.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises