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Friday, 30 June 2006

Friends Reunited Update #1,256

An unexpected call from Jose Mourinho leads to a pre-season trial at Cheslea. Many of the squad are surprised (to say the least!) to find out that Joe Cole's place in the side will be taken by a 6 foot two inch forty-one year old with two left feet and a serious alcohol abuse problem. (Except the always game for a laugh Frank "Long-Shot" Lampard, of course, who wins a weekend for two on Xante with free car hire using a £10 Paddy Power e-voucher to back his 2,000,000-1 hunch. Lucky bastard!) At least, they reason, he will freshen up the pornographic video collection on the team coach. And thank Christ it isn't Peter Crouch! They're all agreed on that! Expect fireworks when I make my debut at the Reebok and reveal my "You can stick your Vaz Te up your arse!" t-shirt right in front of 'Big Sam' and the rest of the Bolton Wanderers bench. If I score, that is...

Training starts on Monday week, so I must away. I haven't even loaded the machine gun yet or anything:

Live Chescam footage available at:

"Blue is the colour......"

Best Wishes,


© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

kwuck the clever little duck

That's right! The Robert Swipe Show - THE internet home of all 'kwock the clever little duck' google searches!!!

(Just hope they like Larkin and aren't put off by all the references to The Cuntiad....)

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Some Serious Larkin Around...

After Spinny's reminder that not everyone is obsessed with the current festival of chess on grass and Dickley Head's post from yesterday, I thought, 'what better way to prepare for tomorrow's encounter with one 'Big Phil' than to do something on the other, rather more poetic one?' Tenuous? Perhaps, but what did you expect from a man with nothing interesting to say? Cheap porn? (I know, I know - we all miss the smut but like the poet said, all good things must come to an end....)

I had promised (to someone in their comments section, forget who) to post the chapter about Larkin from my dissertation A Brilliant Breaking of the Bank: Contending Englands in post war British Culture (you couldn't make it up, could you?), but alas and alack, I can't find it in digital form - so that particular pleasure will have to wait (...sound of mass migration from the UK to obscure regions of the planet currently without internet access...) Well, it IS meant to be a comedy site...

Until then, here's one of Big Phil's biggest hits. 'Sad steps' from the L.P. High Windows...

Groping back to bed after a piss
I part the thick curtains, and am startled by
The rapid clouds, the moon's cleanliness.

Four o'clock: wedge-shaped gardens lie
Under a cavernous, a wind-pierced sky.
There's something laughable about this,

The way the moon dashes through the clouds that blow
Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart
(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)

High and preposterous and separate--
Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,

One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain
far-reaching singleness of that wide stare

Is a reminder of the strength and pain
Of being young; that it can't come again,
But is for others undiminished somewhere.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Thursday, 29 June 2006

How to be Middle Class, with Sarah Beeny...

Well, with no football on, we had to watch something, so we gave young Sarah's new show, How to be Middle Class a go. The format is simple: take two couples who have more money than sense, and watch them making a pig's ear of their greed-driven attempts at property speculation.

As a hostess, Sarah is exemplary. For a start, she couldn't be more middle class. All the ingredients are there - cut glass vowels, complete inability to pronounce her Rs, a peculiar lip wart (it looks as if a remnant of strawberry Opal fruit has got lodged there) beautifully stranded highlights and bizarrely fluctuating weight. Indeed, the weight issue is quite compelling - more so than all the house stuff, if truth be told. Sarah vacilates between stick thin and round bellied - often appearing to shift alarmingly between these two poles during the same sequence. Indeed, at times it seems as though she might be the victim of some hideously realistic phantom pregnancy that strikes for several hours at a time, rendering her bloated, hormonal, prone to morning sickness and capable of eating any food stuffs in any combination and in great quantities before eventually being returned to her normal, trim self. One thing, however, is constant: throughout it all, Beeny is quite beautifully boobed.

And it's a good job that S.B.s manners are impeccable too. It must try the patience of a saint having to listen to people like the improbably named Marigold (some sort of parental dishwashing fetish being played out here, methinks...) and partner John (? - he may be unmemorable, but at least had sensible parents...) explaining their plans to gut their Islington investment pad, install a state of the art audio visual system that would shame Abbey Road, plant a full coppice on their 6 by 6 roof terrace, and all on a budget of thruppence ha'penny. And then her studied poker face when she sees the look on theirs when the 6 figure sum it will set them back in the real world is revealed to them. I'd have found it very hard not to laugh. Having throttled them first, of course.

Predictably, the hapless M.& J. lose a shitload of moolah, having bizarrely ignored Sarah's advice to maximise their profits by turning their cavernous, one bedroom flat above a bar in Upper Street into a Mary, Mungo & Midge style chav-storing high rise. She even has to explain the 3 main factors at play in the property development screw to them: cost of property, what you spend on it, what you sell it for. Beeny even hints that the last figure should exceed the first two combined, but to no avail. Strange, as I'm trying to think of areas in modern life where you can earn the sort of sums needed to have two mortgages and fund a six figure renovation on your credit card outside of the financial services. And then John (?) has the cheek to tell S.B., after she's already advised them to convert the flat into smaller units, that they wish someone had given them a reality check.....

Fortunately, S.B., phantom stork in tow no doubt, is on safer ground with her next couple. They are both women, which immediately increases the intelligence quotient considerably. Sadly, this doesn't mean they're not still capable of rank stupidity. They've bought a bombed out former squat in Andover Square, unseen at auction, for a quarter of a million. You can hear their bowels preparing to void as Beeny informs them that the huge studs on the outside of the building are attempts to remedy a severe case of subsidence. They are reassured by some expert or other who says they've probably seen the worst of it as it hasn't completely collapsed yet, nor any further in the last 20 years since it was last propped up (phew!!) Despite one of the ladies being an interior decorator, they somehow transform the perilous wreck into a stunning professional's pad. Who'd have thought that lowering the floor of your shitter 35 cm. could make such a difference??) It goes for £435,000 in the end. (I hope the buyers didn't use the same surveyor as us!) The moral? Lesbians have it easy and are dab hands with a paint brush. And never, ever trust a woman called Marigold to invest your money.

Gordon Ramsay's F-Word is next. I'm ambivalent about Ramsay. It's hard not to like someone who can elicit the word fuck from Cliff Richard (although you'd admire him more if he'd whipped out Sir Cliff's colostemy bag out and said "da da!") and the close-up of The Young One's grimace as he tested a glass of his own rocket fuel flavoured wine. ("Oooooh that's harsh!" exclaimed the Batchelor Boy, frantically searching for a fire extinguisher...) was magnificent. But then we see the "six weeks to slaughter" caption under footage of the little piglets his kids have been feeding and bonding with for the last few weeks, and it becomes considerably easier to see him sprawled out on his kitchen floor, a half-eaten poisoned Mars bar in his cold, unfeeling hand.

Read a bit more of The House of Sleep before I (and how ironic is this?) start nodding off. This means I miss the programme on Julie Burchill, Toby Young and the Modern Review. The sleep of the just, methinks.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Pet Sounds in stereo...

Meant to post this up sooner but what with the football and all that...

As regular readers will know, S. and I are hoping to move house shortly and Sunday being a bit of a sad anniversary for both of us, I thought I'd put some 'up' music on to cheer us up - something uplifting and forward looking to remind us of the good things ahead. What about Pet Sounds? I thought, thinking of the wonderful optimism of the first track:

Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn't have to wait so long
And wouldn't it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong

I'm forty-one years old and cynical as hell but that opening still gets me every time. Brian Wilson's heartbreakingly sincere voice, comforting his girl like a boyscout acting braver than he really is -

You know its gonna make it that much better
When we can say goodnight and stay together

- it's OK, honey. We'll do it someday, someday soon and it'll be real, real good. And maybe we'll have world peace too. Talk about the personal and the political. It could be horrific - schmaltzy, wide eyed and overwrought, that piercing, intense "staaaaay tu - geth - urrrr", but it isn't. Phil Spector said to Sonny Bono when the latter offered encouragement as Phil was tweaking the mix of Da Doo Ron Ron for the millionth time, "nah - it's just not dumb enough yet..." When a beaming Spector finally got what he wanted, Sonny turned to him and, thinking it was what Spector wanted to hear, said, "well, Phil, that sure as hell is dumb!" Spector just looked at him and said slowly, "No, Sonny - that's pure, pure gold." And it was and so is this. Wilson's genius was to turn glossy, meretricious bubblegum pop into something luminous and transcendent. His working title for Smile, the hitherto lost masterpiece he hoped would prove that genius to the world and that virtually finished Wilson off in 1967, was Dumb Angel. How cool is that? How precise!

Wilson's quoted as wanting to make "white spiritual music" - his own college boy, Four Freshman gospel sound.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Film 2006...

From the Cuntiad Guide, Saturday, June 24th:


6:20 Film: Soccer dog: European Cup (Sandy Tung, 2004)
The Battleship Potemkin of canine sports movie sequels, starring Nick Moran, Jake Thomas, Lori Heiring, Scott Clevedon, Orson Bean, Darren Reiter, Frank Simons, Jack McGee...

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Spain 1, France 3...

Songs of innocence and experience.

No, not Blake. Clive Tyldesley. (I'm paraphrasing, obviously....) "A European summit", he solemnly intones. The "youthful zest and potency" of Spain (ave. age 24 1/2) pitted against a France team (ave. age 29 1/2) who have "grown old together". Too early for Spain? ( mind drifts off here and I picture the callow Spanish side shuffling on to the 8.45 bus, proffering their Freedom Passes to the tight-lipped bus driver, squawking, "is it twirly? Is it twirly?") Or too late for France? "My head says Spain, my heart says France. The heart wins out, Clive..." swoons the ever-lyrical David Pleat. Blake? Shelley? It's only a bloody game....!

But this is no ordinary game. It could be last time any of us get to watch the great Zinedine Zidane kick a ball in anger, our last chance to "wallow (??!!?) in his magic." Incidentally, why do ITV persist in employing pundits for whom English is clearly a troublesomely-acquired second language? Fortunately, Ruud Gullit is on hand to bail out Venables after his "wallow in the magic" gaffe by bidding his own emotional "far well" to Zizou.

The anthems: Zizou (an older, more obviously Arabic David Blaine) leads the French equipe through the Marseilleise. I'm sure his bottom lip wobbles a bit at the end before he steadies himself and his team mates with what I lipread as a stern and focussed "allez les bleus!" The Spanish team look skyward.

It's boys against men alright. Gallas picks the pocket of the much-lauded (and hitherto very impressive) Torres (a young Rob Brydon), roughing him up a little for his cheek along the way. The Spanish backline, led by the little pocket battleship that is Puyol (the fifth Marx Brother - Permo) is playing dangerously high up the field. It's just a matter of time before Henry breaches their juvenile attempts at playing the offside trap and scores with a trademark sidefooted curler cutting in from the left.

But no. Against the run of play, Spain win a penalty which Villa (David Copperfield from Three of a kind) places just inside Barthes' (Donald Pleasance in a Pinter play) right hand post on 26 minutes. But France are unphased. Ribery, a one man French new wave, makes a clever diagonal run from inside the centre circle, Henry puts both hands in surrender to the assistant referee to convince him he's not interfering with play (unnecessarily, bcause he's done fek all so far, save be caught offside) and the trap is sprung. Ribery romps into the acres of space left behind the hapless defence like a city scruff through pasture and scampers around Casillas to slot home around the 40 minute mark.

Half time. A bout de souffle.

Our prolonged second half bad pun competition -

S.: Couldn't they have a team called Diss United?

Me: That's daylight Ribery, that is....etc.

is interupted by a cheeky run to the byline by the increasingly confident and influential Ribery (sign him, Arsene...) He cuts the ball back ("here you are Sydney...", deadpans Pleat) but there's no one there to apply the coup de grace.

Instead, it's left to Vieira (who still illicits the occasional, involuntary "goo on Paddy!" from yours truly, I have to confess). He seems to be relishing the opportunity to do more of his work in the final third (two goals already from midfield) now he has Makelele to cover behind him. Henry cons a free kick for a nothing barge from Permo (he's had a wonderful evening, but this wasn't it..). Then Thierry lets himself down by feigning a facial injury after one of Permo's curls hits him square on the chest. Insult is added to injury when Vieira heads home at the far post seven minutes from time.

Domenach (a very scary Dave Allen/Paul O'Grady face morph) replaces Henry with Wiltord while Spain can still plausibly equalise and take the game to extra time. "He's mad", I gesticulate at the TV, screeching in bad French. But Raymond knows. As the game enters stoppage time, Wiltord's neat wall pass releases a now zestful and potent Zidane, who cuts inside the by now completely ragged Permo (and that's just his hair) to shoot low and hard under Casillas. "Roll away the stone", Tyldesley talk-sings. Forget all the young dudes, it's Lazarus Zizou's night.

The clash of the generations theme is continued and expanded in Eastenders. Jim Branning (Lee J. Cobb re-imagined by Picasso after a heavy night on the Rioja) hands on misery to his newly reacquainted son, Max (Mark Wright) who in turn hands on misery to his newly reacquainted son, Bradley (an ultra-flushed Prince Harry, only quite nice with it). It deepens to a coastal know the drill.

A vinyl urge. I fall asleep during side two of Songs from the Catherine Wheel. Refreshed by this power snooze, I stick on side two of Revolver. Such beautiful recordings. The stereo soundstage has real depth, even on this late 70s pressing. As I'm on a roll with the second sides, I play Bookends (by Rooney & Gerrard - sorry, that should be Simon & Garfunkel...) They look too young on the cover to be singing about 'Overs' and sad, lonely bookends and taping people in old folks homes.

There's also an anger that's not present all that often in the rest of Simon's work on this LP. Hear it in the snap of the acoustic guitar runs and the derisive Joe di Maggio namecheck on 'Mrs. Robinson' and the "blah, blah, blah" Garfunkel tacks on to the line "because the kid's got no respect for the law today..." in 'Save the Life of my Child'.

Songs of experience:

When she goes, she's gone
If she stays, she stays here
The girl does what she wants to do,
She knows what she wants to do
And I know I'm fakin' it,
I'm not really makin' it.

But songs of innocence too. In the the free for all of the zoo:

The monkeys stand for honesty,
Giraffes are insincere,
And the elephants are kindly but
They're dumb.
Orangutans are skeptical
Of changes in their cages,
And the zookeeper is very fond of rum.

Zebras are reactionaries,
Antelopes are missionaries,
Pigeons plot in secrecy,
And hamsters turn on frequently.

And the hazy-morning-breakfast-fug surrealism of 'Punky's dilemma':

Wish I was a Kellog's Corn Flake
Floating in my bowl, takin' movies.
Relaxing a while
Living in style
Talking to a raisin who occasionally plays L.A.
Casually glancing at his toupee.

Wish I was an English Muffin
About to make the most out of a toaster.
I'd ease my self down
Coming up brown.
I'd prefer boysenberry more than any ordinary jam.
I'm a citizens-for-boysenberry-jam fan.

Innocence, experience.

Bring on the Quarters.....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Opening line for a novel...

Horse piss.

Good, isn't it? Well, not so much a line, I'll admit. More a couple of words. Two, to be precise. But by golly they're both good un's - don't you agree? And put together like that, in that order....

Well, I like it.

It'll all make sense when you read the rest of it, just you wait and see....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Monday, 26 June 2006

England 1, Ecuador 0...

It's all about fuckin' now!

[unidentified England player in the tunnel ahead of the Ecuador game]

Not for all of us it isn't.

For some of us there's a bit of history here. The tragedy of 1970. Failure to qualify in 1974. And 1978. Keegan and Brooking limping home unbeaten in 1982. And then there was 1986. I can remember it as if it was yesterday. Sitting in Woody Gloldstein's living room, him with a cardboard three lions badge pinned over the star of David on the breast of his Israeli national team replica shirt whilst I partook of his of the extravagant array of knishes, blintzes and bagels he'd lent us for dinner. Maradona scores a goal as dodgy as Mrs. G's wandering eye. And don't get me started on the "hand of God" incident.

So you see, we've been through all this before - the lame opening performance, the tepid second. Defeat so nearly snatched from the jaws of victory before progress to the later stages is fitfully secured. We lived through the agonies of Italia '90 for heaven's sake - lipread Lineker's "have a word with him", wept with Gazza, peeked through our fingers at the penalty shoot-out and covered our ears to The John Barnes Rap. We're tournament hardened, primed for the disappointment that we know is still to come, as inevitable as summer rain on Wimbledon opening day.

So why do I have a sneaking feeling that this may just be England's time after all?

Things augur well from the start. That snatch of pre-match psyching up suggests that even the players would quite like to do it (although, "all about fucking now" could also be a reminder to the team of the pleasures - all those orgies, roastings and honeytraps - awaiting them after their ignominious exit from the tournament.

It gets better still. "Would you believe it?" caws Motson as if he's just opened his b'day presents and discovered an updated train timetable , "the sun's just gone in!"

It's a sign, Motty...

Better still, and perhaps this is more pertinent, Ecuador turn out to be pants. Even the time-honoured and devious ploy of having two players with identical surnames (Tenorio - Edwin and Carlos) who aren't actually related to each other, fails to weaken English resolve. Even the increasingly senile Motty isn't falling for it. "Tenorio. Spreads it wide to Tenorio - no relation," he calmy relates before letting out one of his increasingly common little mentalist-laughing-to-himself-on-the-bus chuckles.

Even the England players seem to be grasping the fact that their stars could not be better aligned. I count 11, 12, 13 passes from one white shirt to another in one passage of play. The inclusion of a player - in Michael Carrick - who sees the ball for what it is rather than as a dangerous sphere packed with explosives that must be hoofed upfield where it can detonate on the forehead of an opposition centre half (or, better still, Wayne Rooney), certainly seems to be helping.

And then, on the hour mark, Beckham strokes home a 30 yard free kick of such exquisite precision that it brings on in the scorer a Pythonesque barfing episode. (Sadly, they don't show us who he covered in vom - image rights and all that...) He certainly had a look of Simon le Bon about him post-goal, jowly, disinterested and incapable of holding the tune of even the most monotone Duran Duran song. (It was quite uncanny, actually...) A far cry from the gladiatorial figure who led the (surprisingly rousing) singing of the National Anthem. Most of the players joined in, some appearing to know many of the words. Before that, Rooney - or Wazza as the excellent German mikes allowed us to hear him being called by his team mates - and Gerrard continued England's 'lucky album cover recreation' ritual. Today it was the back cover of Bridge over Troubled Water - a bold, if ultimately appropriate choice.

Anyone seasoned in their supporting England during a world cup lore will have been awaiting the heavyweight tussle between Portugal and Holland to decide our next opponents about as keenly as they would a re-run of Rio's World Cup Wind-ups (that's the player, not the song Beckham looked like he'd just sung during the Huey incident) Even in this, the fates smiled on Sven - it must make it so much earier to check those 8 figure bank statemnents after good days at the office like today, mustn't it?...) Instead of the lesson in calm, measured progressive play, we were treated to a display that lacked only a hokey piano soundtrack and a preceding Paul Merton lecture to have fitted nicely in the comic's recent Silent Comedy series. The Russian referee (there's another sign for those of you on the da Vinci code trail to World Cup glory - Russian linesman, '66 and all that...) did his best to send off every putative England opponent, sadly managing only 4 players, of whom only 2 were Portuguese. Still not enough for the ban-hungry ITV team. Ruud Gullitt, as hysterically amused as anyone, despite seeing his fellow countrymen ousted from the main event in such comical fashion, had to remind Venables & Yorath of their manners. "How many do you want banned?" he asked - and I don't think he was being rhetorical.

As if all that weren't enough, the evening was rounded off by More 4 showing Kes. Brian Glover (Uwe Seeler - we beat him in '66. Can't be a coincidence, can it?) as the bullying (and, as a scene I'd forgotten where he uneasily appraises a pupil's love bite riddled torso suggests), possibly gay sports teacher. It's one of the finest sequences in British cinema. "Who are we today sir?" "Bobby Charlton....Denis Law's in the wash...". "I'll give you a sample of my footballing skills - a rare delight!" Inevitable failure looms - Billy Kasper executes an ineffective Truman-Capote-on-the-cover-of-The-Boy-With-the-Thorn-in-his-Side-style dive and "Tottenham Hotspurs" march on to the "Sixth Round of the FA Cup". "Lost again, sir?" one of the younger pupils pipes up. Pricless! And in the Working men's club scene, a bequiffed member of the pub band is playing a burgundy finish Gretsch Tennessean. It really does not get any better than that, does it?

So, England for the final. Lampard hatrick, anyone? I can feel it in me water.

2006 Swipe Enterprises

Sunday, 25 June 2006

Germany 2, Sweden 0...

Awoken by crows – belligerent, inarticulate Daleks squabbling and squawking over their pecking order.


The cause(s)?

Pimms (1x 1 litre bottle)

Waitrose Bavarian Wheatbeer (4 x 50 cl. bottles)

Beck’s (4 x 50 cl. cans)

[Brief bartender digression. To make the perfect Pimms, invert the recommended ratio of one measure of Pimms to 3 measures lemonade. It doesn’t taste any better, but by Christ it gets you hammered.]

The football. Well, what should have been a glorious global celebration of the beautiful game as the tournament reaches the knockout stage descended predictably into the familiar English nightmare. Too much sun, too much booze too much hard right politics all coalescing into blind, ugly violence and unforgivable bigotry. Apparently there was some trouble with the England fans in Stuttgart too…

Podolski and Klose started it. Klose with his shameful playacting and imaginary card waving, going down like a bag of spuds at the merest of shoulder-charges from behind. Then Podolski with his patronising pat on the back for the grinning, imbecilic little Brazilian referee as he ordered the hapless Swede off. Game effectively over 20 minutes in.

This inevitably sparked off terrace trouble in our particular section of the living room (sorry, Liebensraum…) “You cunt, Podolski. You absolute total and utter CUNT! You’ve ruined the game now, you absolute cunt of a grinning, imbecilic cunt ref!” And so on for the remainder of the first half. I’ve just given you the edited highlights here. The rest was pretty unprintable (…and THAT’S saying something, isn’t it Cuntiad readers?)

The second half banter was slightly more rational and measured, frequent references being made to (I think this is his name) Richard Feinman’s classic study, The Nazi Doctors. It is an excellent, if somewhat depressing piece of scholarship charting the tragic unfolding of the work of the German medical profession in Nazi Germany. They began by experimenting on the disabled and mentally handicapped – those they considered to be “life unworthy of life”. These experiments proved fruitful, They learned, for instance, that if you put a series of holes in the skull of a young patient and then leave them lying on a trolley without food or water or medical supervision for a reasonable amount of time, the child will eventually die. What’s tragic about the book is that it reveals the part played in what - when their attentions were transferred from the 'problem' of disability to that of the Jews of Europe - eventually became The Holocaust, by so-called men of science. A lesson for today’s geneticists, perhaps? I certainly haven’t trusted doctors since. Or dentists, for that matter.

Still, forgive and forget, eh?

I know all this shouldn’t really be used against the current German national team – or mannschaft, in Gary Lineker's mischievous half-time innuendo. In any case, it’s quite enough reason to dislike them because they have among their number soon-to-be Cheslea leg end (that’s deliberately two words, btw) Michael Ballack. This should shame me, I know, but even it was revealed that he donated nine tenths of his salary to worthy animal rights causes and had been personally responsible for preventing this year’s Canadian seal cull, I’d still take one look at his face and want to kick it vigorously.

So, trouble in Stuttgart? Well, if they will allow Cuntiad readers in, what do they expect? The thought of CuntboticsRback and his battalions of well-meaning, liberal-with-a-small-L, lager louts let loose on the poor unsuspecting towns volk of Germany, their Berliner-format copies of the Cuntiad painstakingly folded to form the infamous “Farringdon Bricks” with which they will club good, honest New Labour values into the traumatised mullets of Mittel Europe – well, it just makes you ashamed to be Middle Class, doesn’t it?

I think I prefer the original working class hoolies, like the ones Morrissey sang about in ‘We’ll let you know’:

We’re all smiles
And honest I swear it’s just the turnstiles
That make us hostile…

The same chav chaps appear in ‘Reader, meet author’ – and you really could benefit from listening to this CuntboticsRback:

You don’t know a thing about our lives.
Books won’t help us, they’re not Stanley lives.

You know? – the idea that some people are the authors of their own lives, not just automata… Now, where did I put that Stanley knife?

I’m reminded, for some reason, of Larkin’s poem, ‘This be the verse’ – you know CuntboticsRback, it’s the famous one where he uses the Fuck word at the beginning. Later he writes:

Man hands on misery to man
It deepens to a coastal shelf.

I wrote in my dissertation that he makes the land itself sound synonymous with the misery. I think, on reflection, that that stretches the line a bit too far, but it is exactly what happens in England, for me. We become a part of the misery – all those tiny houses, the greyness, the shittiness. And, for now, all those fucking flags…

Still, forgive and forget, eh?

Later we watch the “No Hiding Place” episode of Whatever happened to the Likely Lads? It’s the one where Bob and Terry are trying to avoid the score of the England v Bulgaria qualifier so they can watch the highlights later in the evening. There’s a part where Terry offers his pat appraisals of various nationalities and ethnic groupings:

Koreans (“Cruel”) Germans (“Arrogant”) Italians (“Greasy. But not as greasy as the French”)

And so on.

It also features my favourite ever line. “We interrupt this programme to take you over to Sophia for an urgent newsflash and pillocks to poor old Zebedee…”

They manage to avoid finding out the score only to turn on the television and find that Match of the Day has been replaced by the European Figure skating champions. Match abandoned. Waterlogged pitch. How English is that?

England v. Ecuador today. It will be unbearable if they win. And unbearable if they lose. Like Alfie said, “they ain’t got you one way, they got you another, ain’t they?”

Derek would have been 71 today. God bless you mate – I miss you.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Saturday, 24 June 2006

Radio 2...

Like many people born in the Sixties if you'd told my younger self that, in later life I'd spend many a quiet Saturday morning sitting peacefully in the living room in the hazy fug of a hangover listening to Radio 2, I would have thought you'd lost the plot (Well, I would have believed the bit about the hangover, obviously - but Radio 2??) But there you are. That's the ageing process for you. I used to find the whole ambience of Jimmy Young and David Jacobs and two way family favorites (or "vomily favourites" as S.'s late father Derek would have called it) as oppressive as the heat from my paternal grandmother's real coal fire when we we used to visit and be subjected to that quiet, euthanasia-inducing bubble from the - as we called it then, younger reader(s) - wireless.

But now I can see what previous generations saw in the idea of being wrapped in the sonic comfort blanket of the past. I've always loved Sixties music and there's nowhere better to get a fix than Brian Matthews' (I nearly typed "the late" before that, for some reason...) Sounds of the Sixties. Where else could you hear a selection including Cream, a bit of Trojan, The Four Tops, a rare Animals b-side and P.P. Arnold without once having to zimmer frame it across the living room to turn the sound down/off? He is without question the greatest living Englishman (well, after Brian Eno and Patricia Routledge, at least) and I think the Queen should start thinking now about including him in her next honours list before it's too late...

Matthews played The Beatles 'Yes it is' and I've just consulted The Tome (Revolution in the head by Ian MacDonald - he really is "the late, btw) and here's what The Greatest Book Ever Written in English has to say:

Though Lennon was often brusquely unfeeling with women, his behaviour hid an idealist who believed in destiny and the One True Love. His most yearningly romantic song, 'Yes it is' is positively 19th Century in its haunted feverishness, its Poe-like invocation of the colour scarlet, and its hint that the lost lover of its lyrics is dead

It's Mother Love then, apparently, one that became "finished business for [Lennon] once he had found fulfillment with Yoko Ono" (I never thought I'd ever type the words fulfillment, Yoko and Ono in the same sentance...)

Then there's Ross who always makes me laugh and does a great skit about a German pensioner caught shoplifting who's forgotten to put his dentures in and tries to gum his way free from his captors. He also plays a very toe-tapping and catchy Magic Numbers' song that we both like. And The Flaming Lips' 'Yoshimi' which reminds me of the surreal beauty of hearing the Japanese language version of it on shuffle as our train passed at snail pace through the English countryside for ages just outside Swindon. "Excessive heat on the line" - I kid you not....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Friday, 23 June 2006

Regular readers - an apology...

Hi folks,

As people who regularly visit this site will know, over the last few weeks I've been trying to post on a more mature range of subjects - anything from literature through popular music, environmental issues (well, the state of my cock probably has implications for the local water basin, I'm told), as well as a highly personal view of all the major sporting tournaments - posts on all of these have been placed on view here in the last few weeks in stark conrast to the jizz-mag level smut and goobledegook we used to put up. In line with this new approach, I had rather been hoping that we might retain our existing readers as well as - I don't know how to put this without sounding snobby but here goes - frankly, a slightly better class of reader. And we seemed to be going in the right direction - reading figures were down, the comments section was teeming with intelligent and perceptive responses...and Rock Mother, of course...THINGS WERE LOOKING UP!

Sadly, fate has dealt us a bad hand here. Due to the malicious posting by persons unknown of a couple of our links on the Grauniad Ulnitimed's World Cup Blog page, we've been quite literally inundated with new readers - scumbags in the main, many of them posting in our unmediated comments section vicious rumour-mongering disguised as fact (well, apart from the bits about the rotten cock, obviously) and quite scurrilously accurate critiques of the standard of blogging on offer here. I can only apologise to my loyal, valued and (I now realise) incredibly undiscriminating readers. What had set out to be an exercise in taste, decorum and the higher orders of aesthetics has, again I'll be frank, descended into the dankest regions of the chav-invested cloaca. 30,000 visits, dammit! CAN'T THESE PEOPLE LEAVE US ALONE???????

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

The Spirit of Lively and Fruitful Intellectual Debate Lives on...

What would we do without The Gruaniad Ulnitimed's World Cup blog, I ask you???

(...some work, probably.)

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

The Cult of Bob...

I've spent most of the morning trying to work out whether or not I can start referring to myself as being a cult figure. It has a nice ring to it, don't you think? "Cult blogger, Bob Swipe today admitted to possession of a small quantity of cannabis resin..." Or " We spoke to Robert Swipe, the cult blogger and alternative lifestyle guru, currently residing in his hideaway in Afghanistan with Ukrainian sex-bomb and former Mrs. Andrei Shevchenko...." But how do you know you've made it to being a cult figure? And is it really something to be proud of. Surely "Robert Swipe, media mogul and polymorphous sex toy of the novelist Lionel Shriver, today announced his decision to renounce his honorary Peerage in protest at a proposed new windfarm near his idyllic holiday home in...." has a bit more oomph about it. Am I aiming too low??

Anyway, I thought I'd try to be empirical about this (whatever that means) and try to back up the theory with a few facts and figures and that sort of mumbo-jumbo. So, I started off counting up the people you could reasonably call 'regular' readers:

Blind Flaneur (although, come to think of it, s/he hasn't been around much lately), Brian, Tim, Ceri, Dickley, Richard, Freds (x2 - although you need a password to get into theirs now - what's that all about??), Lucien (currently AWOL...), Mike (who's stopped leaving comments so is either bored or spending all his time gawping at Goth girls with fek blood dripping from every orifice on myspace...), Mollster, Hannah (although I think the overuse of the Cunt word might have frightened her off, poor thing...), Billy, Ro-Mo, Sid Smith (I think he still looks in occasionally...), Janey (although I think I've probably hacked her off too...), The Lovely Sonia, Spinny!!, Blog Toddney (although he's as silly as arseholes, so I'm not sure if I should count him...) UN Security Council (although I think they may have given up on me...) Say Underpants (ditto...)

I make that 21 regular readers. Then there are those who troll without blogging their own dull and dismal lives for the rest of us to have a good old laugh at (you know who you are A. Radiographer, Broken Stiletto and Woody Goldstein...) Then there are the ones who've started coming up re-directed here from google picture searches for things like Zoe+Telford+bladder+close up or Kate+silverton+bunny-girl+fanny+shot or Tanya+Beckett+Stocking+clitswap...etc. Should I count them?

OK, let's round it up to a cosy 25 readers. Definitely a cult (although, now they know that they are cult members, that'll probably do for about half that lot....) So we're down to about a dozen. That's not a cult - it's a sub-cult. Or a coven!! Oh well, better than nothing I guess....

Two further points that this research throws up:

Firstly, if I spent as much time writing properly and sending off MSs as I do staring bleakly at my site meter, I'd probably have been published by now.

Secondly, is it even desirable to be published anymore? Look at the dreck that does come out (..sorry, Lionel..)

I mean,

a) Would Martin Amis be published if he started out now?

b) Would Cervantes be published if he was writing now?

c) I think I've made my point.

So, Bob Swipe, cult blogger it is...

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Croatia 2, Australia 2...

I leaf through the little red, clothbound notebook I started using about this time last year. The entries range from the inexplicable:

"From legend to twat", Callum Best

...through proper writer's notebook stuff like these unused pub names for an autobiographical novel:

The Grim Horse, Kingston

The Dead Lion, Brentford

The Cow & Snuffers, Streatham

The Nag's Head, Fulham

The Cocked Gun, Gunnersbury

The Bleak Midwinter, Basingstoke

..some character names:

The Legendary Brian Cough

Lesbo Mouthpiece

Roachy Calendrix

CHURN [not sure if this is a name, or just a spurious entry...]

...aides memoires:

Kursaal Flyers

Ray's Famous
[underlined] Pizza

...some Eliot:

Trying to use words and every attempt
Is a wholly new start and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say or the
[can't make this bit out]
One is no longer disposed to say it and so each [illegible]
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipement, always deteriorating
In the general mess of impressions
[or?/of?] feelings
Undisciplined squads
[shouldn't this be squadrons?] of emotion

....some Morton Shadow's A-Z of Pop outtakes:

Boy George:

Real name: George Dowdy
Religion: Church of the Poison Mind

Brian Bno:

Invented ambient pop, collaborated with Bowie, Talking Heads, U2. Created Lord Snooty, Dennis the Menace & Gnasher etc.

...spurious calculations of how much compound interest might accrue on a £90,000 lump sum in 1 year:

£159,789.51 [that can't be right!?!?!]

I listen to Heroes all the way through. The 24 bit remaster is more detailed but still reeks authentically of that Hansa-by-The-Wall ambience - what a studio! There seemed to be such a sense of possibility then. More of a compulsion to experiment, to make the most of one's freedom; to expand, to grow. That's the real power of Bowie and that whole Changesone- thing - you could use your life and art as a means to find out who you were or what you wanted to be, "and the shame fell on the other side". Freedom was understood differently then, I guess ("I, I can remember standing by The Wall.....") Because it was valued more. Now the future is laid out before them like a trail of sweets. Modern pop is shit. What happened?

I watch Sugar Rush with the volume down, listening to Another Green World. 'Sombre Reptiles' accompanies a long, lingering, lesbian kiss.

A late Harry Kewell equaliser puts Australia through to the knockout phase where they face Italy for a place in the Quarter Finals.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Thursday, 22 June 2006

The Idiot...

I was trolling around on the other side of the world, keeping an eye on the smart, witty and intelligent types who congregate over at Tim's Cultural Snow gaffe, when for some reason, the discussion veered from plagiarism to Lloyd Cole & the Commotions (well, it does doesn't it?) All of which started me thinking of how Lloyd Cole was a bit rubbish really, and only had two songs, one of which was 'Lost weekend', which was a direct steal from Iggy Pop's song 'The Passenger', which then got me thinking about how brilliant the album Lust for Life is, which in turn made think about how much I also love The Idiot, which further (stop me if this starts getting boring, won't you...) made me ponder which is the better album of the two - Lust or its predecesor? (You see the way my mind works? And you thought you had attention deficiency issues....) This is by no means meant to imply that I think The Idiot is the better of the two, but it just made me want to write some thoughts about it from memory, in the unlikely event that any of my readers hadn't already got the LP and love it to bits, in which case, those poor souls will see their life immeasurably improved by rushing straight round to Amazon and whipping a copy of their (virtual) shelves.

It's staggering to thnk that in the space of a little over a year David Bowie was involved in the recording of the following albums: Low, The Idiot, Heroes, Lust for Life (I think 'Little Drummer Boy' fits into this sequence somewhere too, so you can see how the guy really was on a roll.) I'll probably piss off a whole legion of my fellow beer-gutted former hollowcheeked, Factor Maxed Bowiephiles here by suggesting that you could make a convincing case for the two records he made with the Igster actually pipping the Thin, Dukified one's own releases. But without going quite that far, I think we're on safe ground to say that you'd have to look long and hard for an annus of similar mirabilis-ness elsewhere in the pop canon - European or otherwise.

First up is 'Calling Sister Midnight', which takes Jim Morrison's experimentation with funk on 'The Changeling' and his Freudian ruminations on 'The End', crashes them together and jigs about among the wreckage. Bowie later reprised the backing track as 'Red Money', the closer on his own Lodger LP a couple of years later but it lacks the claustrophobic intensity of the Ig cut. Ricky Gardiner's jagged guitar shards pierce like the reading on an insomniac's ECG. Bassist George Murray and drummer Dennis Davis bubble and sizzle reespectively behind Carlos Alomar's (surely this was the best rhythm section he ever had....?) laconic guitar doodles. Over this landscape Mr. Pop drawls his primal somniloquoy:

...You know I had a dream last night
Mother was in my bed
And I made love to her
Father he gunned for me
Hunted me with his six-gun
Calling Sister Midnight

What can I do about my dreams?

In rock terms, it's an archetype that goes right back to the Doors. What's fresh (and freshly disturbing about it) is the numbness of Pop's delivery. We're reminded not only of Pop's closeness to the Doors in cultural time (the Stooges were signed by Elektra in the hope that they were to be the new Doors) but how far Pop (and, by extension, the culture) has come since. Pop took the trying to set the night on fire bit even further than Morrison (apart from the dying in the bath bit, obviously), ending upon in an insane asylum with no money and (seemingly) no friends until Bowie rescued him and, like a patient psycho-analyst who knows an intersting case when he sees one, eeked these nightmares out of him. "Well, I'm an idiot for you", confirms Iggy. An idiot for Bowie? Or all for all of us? Not bad for starters.

'Nightclubbing' (or the even more appropriate 'Nachtslieben', as it is on the TV Eye live take from the legendary tour on which Bowie supplied treated piano as part of Pop's live band) is up next. Like Bowie's 'Sound and Vision', it still sounds incredible - icy, cooly prescient, but still with just enough of the raw and sexy blood of the blues to give those pale, strung-out veins a ghostly glimmer of life. The adrenalised heartbeat of Dennis Davis' metallic, throbbing kick drum is the song's life blood, pumping the icy clouds of synth strings, a gallumping bellows over which George Young (himself a veteran of German decadence as a Hamburg era Beatles contemporary with Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers) tinkles ivories pitched somewhere between Pinetop Perkins and Sally Bowles. "We're an ice machine", intones a wide-eyed Pop. "We learn dances, brand new dances, like the nuclear bomb", he double track duets himself, planting the seed of a whole new romanticism-in-the-wreckage philosophy (and, unfortunately, a whole new one of pointless posturing) in clotheshorse dandies from Sheffield to Islington to Brum.

'Funtime' surges along like a time lapse hangover. "Baby, baby we like your lips. Baby baby we like your pants", only Pop doesn't sound too convinced. The just-out-of-tune-enough-to-be-brilliant guitar slashes (my money's on Bowie providing them...) and the hurrying VU discord of the instrumental (for want of a better word) break further the idea that this 'funtime' is closer to one of the "heavy trips" that Pop declares he's trying to avoid. Before we've really had a chance to check out "Dracula and his crew", we're afloat on the ice sheet that is 'Baby'. "Baby there's nothing to see - I've already been down the street of chance", The Ig soothes his baby over a synthed update of Little Walter's 'I'm Walking', with more than a hint of Kraftwerk's 'Spacelab' in the melody of his "lullaby".

Anyone who's only heard the comparatively tame and overwrought version of 'China Girl' with which Bowie sought to disguise the paucity of material he'd brought to the Let's Dance sessions, really ought to listen to this right off. Pop's astonishing meditation on how we personalise imperialism ("I'd stumble into town...visions of swastikas in my head, plans for everyone")is far better served by the incisive and piercing guitar-heavy arrangement here (a demo, apparently - if so, one of the best first drafts of a song ever?) The crucial moment of drama in the song, the narrator's realisation of the cultural baggage he brings to this particular mixed-race relationship, comes with the line "it's in the white of my eyes", Here, it's yelled out, hoarse, and angry by Pop where Bowie crooned his multiple platinum way into the hearts of many millions more China girls. The redemption of the narrator (and of the past itself, perhaps?) comes in the song's closing lyrics, and is more affecting for the trauma of the earlier recognition of culpability. Pop goes all Elvis ventriloquising "and when I get excited, my little China Girl says 'Oh Jimmy, just you shut your mouth'" before being wafted off in an intoxicating haze of synth strings and riffing. In its understated way, this song is arguably as much a masterpiece of personal transcendence, a triumphant restatement of his core humanity for Pop as Heroes was for Bowie.

Side two tomorrow.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Lionel, we love you...

Regarding our recent Swipe Show Book Club discussions, I thought that the presence of the hugely wunnerful Lionel Shriver on the Guardian Comments section was too good an opportunity to miss. So I've posted this on all our behalf:

Hello Lionel,

Bit off subject, I'm afraid, but a few of us over at The Robert Swipe Show

were all saying just the otherday that we thought you looked lovely in the Observer Women Supplement the other day.

We love the books too, of course.

Well done everyone!


p.s. Rock Mother asked me to ask you how Pam is? (Said you'd understand....)

Well, you did say you all liked his books so much.....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Argentina 0, Netherlands 0...

After all the pre-match hype - "a genuine world cup classic", "what could be one of the matches of the tournament" - it was perhaps inevitable that this game would play itself out as a pedestrian exercise in squad preservation. The supposed 'hook' for the average domestic armchair fan watching this particular pot of paint dry is the likelihood (assuming of course that England can rouse themselves to triumph over plucky Ecuador in the first knockout stage) that one of these two teams will (barring a sudden and unlikely rule change that enables Sven Goran Ericksson to field double the normal allocation of players) steamroller England towards their customary quarter final exit.

It's one of the few remaining privileges of being English that one can turn on the England team at some point in the tournament - mid-game, often - and start cheering on the opposition because we are being so clueless without suffering so much as a pang of guilt or disloyalty. Well, it's what we do best - knocking things, being cynical. Far preferable to the uber alles school of nationalism. Although, to be fair, the Germans have been - cliche alert - the most perfect hosts. Indeed, this time you can almost imagine them exiting the tournament without actually winning it and not minding too much - so much do they seem to be revelling in their unaccustomed role as the good guys.

The extent to which the hosts have embraced their guests from all corners of the globe was evident in ITV's pre-match build up. They'd assembled two rival groups of fans, each respectively (and painstakingly) daubed from head to toe in sonic blue & white or orange body paint, to help stoke up the atmosphere ahead of the game. "Are you the best team in the tournament?" asked the hapless ITV hack as the Pale Blue and White Man Group jigged up and down before him in unison bellowing "VEE ARE CHERMANS, VEE ARE CHERMANS!!" Could vee ever do something like that in this country?"

Still the paucity of action on the pitch did at least allow me to analyse the commentary team of Peter Drury and David Pleat in quite some depth. The latter is that rare thing - a football analyst who bears all the hallmarks of someone who is actually watching the game and piecing together an overview of it based on the evidence laid out before him. "The game's pendulum appears to be swinging slightly in favour of the Holland team", he opined in a voice that bought anoraks to the mind as the Dutch hogged the ball on the edge of the Argentine box for several minutes. Only one case of foot in mouth from Pleaty last night. "Both these sides favour a patient build up, probing for openings, looking for the right final pass. You won't see either of these two sides playing too many hopeful long balls", tailing off as a misplaced 40 yard Argentine punt upfield rolled harmlessly into touch.

The odd Colemanball aside, Pleat is far better than Mick "Ooo Wee Baby" McCarthy - surely the last man on earth anyone would want to watch a game of footie with. We call him that, incidentally, because of the striking similarity between his speaking voice and that of Sea Cruise star and Cabaret vocaliste Jane MacDonald. They do, as S. pointed out (she's the funny one) sound remarkably alike - although Mick's range starts perhaps an octave or two higher than Jane's. "Ooo wee, ooo wee baby. Ooo wee, ooo wee baby. Ooo wee, ooo wee baby - won't you let me tek you on a sea cuise....??" We sing out in a dour Yorkshire monotone whenever Eminem is in the commentary box, before encouraging the TV screen to "stick it up yer bollocks, you English cunt...."

I'm coming 'round to Drury though, having previously despised him. Although ex-Beeb man John Champion is wasted on the early afternoon k.o graveyard shift and must be wondering who he's upset in the world of broadcasting to have languished for so long in the shadows at both networks. The Matt le Tissier of TV sports commentary. Perhaps he's taking the patient Argentinian route? Or maybe he's still waiting to hear back from Sky? The Drury style, heavily influenced by that stalwart of 70s sports commentating, Hugh "One-Nothing" Johns, favours the straightforward explication of on field events (when he's not indulging in those odd circumlocutions of his - "Live up to the glorious traditions of their respective footballing cultures, can these players??")

Otherwise, it's straightforward name calling:

Messi...... Riquelme......Cambiasso......
Riquelme......Maxi Rodrigues....Teves....

Then, when something noteworthy eventually happens, Drury is all two touch simplicity: the first delicately cushions the name before the second applies the devastating power finish at great velocity:

Tevez. TEVEZ!!!!

With the game dribbling away, I even start to analyse the players. Ayala (Al Pacino in The Scent of a Woman). Cambiasso (Billy Mitchell, only thinner on top). Riquelme (I can't decide whether he's a permanently perplexed Peter Gabriel or a permanently perplexed Jose Feliciano without the shades...) On the Dutch side, Robin van Persie shapes to take a trademark freekick and does that rat thing with his teeth that psycho kids at school used to do when they were winding themselves up for some gratuitous act of extreme violence. To safeguard him from the indignity of a second yellow card for perpetrating yet another gratuitous act of extreme violence, he is substituted by Marco van Basten well before the final whistle.

All in all, disappointing. Drury put the mockers on it, as usual:

Argentina have been unrelentingly good...

I'm sure he does it on purpose.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

The Bonzos...

Just before we went away to Cornwall, when our Freeview digibox was still working (there's a bloody World Cup on and the bloody Digibox packs up - I ask you...) and before I renounced 7 years of vegetarianism to join the Campaign for the Total and Utter Eradication of the Beggaring Seagull Once and For All, the Vicious, Noisy Bastards, (remind me to post up the manifesto sometime...) I stumbled across an evening of Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band themed programmes on the intermittently fabulous BBC4 - namely a 40th Anniversary reunion concert followed by an excellent documentary about Biffoest Bonzo, Viv Stanshall first shown as part of the unspeakably good Originals series.

This sent me on a bit of a Bonzos binge and, you know what I'm like, once I get a thing in my head I've got to badger everybody about it until they come back to me saying, you're right old Bobster, that lot really are the Penguin's Gonads, or whatever salutation of esteem you prefer....

I first fell in love with the BDDDB when I was about 9 or 10, I guess, and I'd go round to the house of my school chum A.B. (now called Clown Flathat) who had parents who seemed impossibly young at the time (it felt like having tea with Julie Christie and Alan Bates, they were very glamourous compared to my and most other parents one came across) A.B. (now called Clown Flathat)'s folks had wonderful things like a mono copy of Revolver and The History of the Bonzos in their record collection. So, we'd sit there for what seemed like hours listening to stuff like 'My Pink Half of the Drainpipe' and 'Labio Dental Fricative' and so on before having tea in their lovely kitchen that felt like you'd walked into the future (or in my case, the present - I really do come from very humble origins, you see....)

So, consider yourselves on the cusp of a good badgering. Here's my step by step guide to falling in love with the Bonzos.

Step One.

You find a Bonzo to love. There are several Real Audio clips here and I heartily recommend that you have a good listen to a few of the tracks from 1st LP, Gorilla - in particular, the lovely, melodious whimsy of 'Piggy Bank Love' and the almost proto-Roxy Music absurdism of 'Death Cab for Cutie' (and yes, that IS where they got the name...)

Step Two.

They fall in love with you. At least, your fellow fans will if you give generously to this lot:

SHARE are trying to archive the great Mr. Stanshall's work and are in urgent need of buttered scone shaped luncheon vouchers in order to safeguard the great man's ouevre (at least I think that's how you spell it..) for posteriority.

If you missed the reunion show or want to catch up on what the band is planning for the future, The official Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band site is the place to go.

And there's an excellent Viv Stanshall site - Ginger Geezer - here with stuff on Sir Henry at Rawlinson End and a wonderful collection of articles and interviews in the, er hem - Viv-a-section....

Step Three.

You kiss and hold them tightly - of course, what you do in your own time is entirely up to you....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises


The choir of female voices exhale their mournful chord. A pause, then they return, differently configured but still as wistful. Over time, their ebbing, flowing sighs establish a gentle undulation, one that mirrors in sound the gentle hills on the horizon beyond the wing tip. Eno, Sonia smiles to herself. Music for Airports. How apt is that? She remembers Fletch telling her how Eno had felt that the usual sludge of muzak they piped into airport reception lounges was so inappropriate to the needs of those about to fly. They needed, he had reasoned, music that not only calmed you, but also lent itself to quiet contemplation. They needed, in short, something more spiritual than a bossa nova take on ‘Light my fire’ or the Tijuana Brass. After all, Eno had figured, this flight could so easily be your last. How thoughtful of Fletch, she thinks, to set the scene so perfectly for her impending demise in the wreckage of flight BA438.

The compilation is a parting gift. He’d even come out to Heathrow to see her off. Taxi must have set him back. She’d given him a long, tearful hug and felt her throat catch as she’d thanked him for everything. He had given her so much, she appraises as she speeds through the crystalline blue, that she would still be at the departure gate now if she hadn’t given him a quick valedictory peck on the cheek and fled when she did. But if she could only keep one gift from her vast debt to Fletch, it would have to be the music. Each CD he’d burned for her had opened up whole new vistas for her to explore. There was the early stuff – from Blue Note, through doo-wop, R & B, rockabilly and soul – then the weird hippy shit, the prog, the punk, the ambient, the protest and the party songs. The jagged little pebble she had been, snarling and sneering in a vacuum of death metal had been rounded and buffed by the seemingly endless tides of warm, cleansing sound. So much stuff she had absorbed in such a short time. And with it, by osmosis, a little bit of Fletch had entered her. Whether through anecdote or the comprehensive sleeve notes that usually accompanied each collection, she could often identify his emotional condition and state of mind from the running order alone, sometimes with the precision of carbon dating.

She knows this next one too. Robert Wyatt, from Rock Bottom. There had to be something from his favourite album on there, of course. This track always makes her think of someone being pulled into a whirlpool, sucked from the glacial calm of the still sea, deeper and deeper into chaos. The fragmented, whimsical words tell only half the tale. There is a lazy calm and glittering light plays on the surface of the water as a piano doodles and synthesizers shimmer. The tranquillity of the introduction soon gives way to an altogether darker undercurrent with an urgent, asymmetrical tug. Wyatt’s scrambled, delirious phrasing sits uneasily astride the music’s stubborn, insistent yaw:

Seaweed tangled in our home from home
Reminds me of your rocky bottom
Please don't wait for the paperweight
Err on the good side
Touch us when we collapse

The words slip out like sleep talk, Wyatt a somnambulant about to plunge down a staircase, unheeding of the trustworthy banister the music offers to ease his passage downward. His voice, like a tiny lost soul gasping, pleading to be allowed to expand, is plunged into the ocean, engulfed by the deep. His metre finally finds some awkward accommodation with the music’s rhythms and off-kilter syncopation:

Into the water we'll go head over heel
We'll not grow fat inside
The mammary gland

He’s riffing now, his voice transformed into a jazz kazoo, a wah-wahing scat solo surfing the waves as their unstoppable momentum builds, before returning to the refrain. The ominous head behind him provokes in the tiny soul one final shrill squeal, like that of an exposed and naked Dalek, as its fate becomes clear. To be consumed either by water or by sand, only burial or drowning await -

Into the water we'll go
Head over heel
A head behind me
Buried deep in the sand

Is his head tumbling into the water or buried deep in the sand? Regardless, he is perversely pulled further out to sea by the music’s deeper logic, the tiny soul drifts out to the horizon with the carrion as seagulls hover, their sharp ascending caws plunked out by piano. Panic fades to stoic calm as the figure recedes from our view, lost at sea, drowning, sucked down into the deep, oblivious to our waves from the shoreline.

Fletch was a fan way before the accident. His accident, not Wyatt’s. They’d even met when Wyatt lived in Twickenham, not far from Fletch’s stomping ground and the college. He’d told Sonia wistfully about the meetings, usually by the river, where they’d sit opposite the boathouses of Eel Pie Island, Robert, Alfreda and Fletch. There, in quiet but bitter tones, they would bemoan Thatcher and apartheid, or sometimes giggle at the hapless busker’s attempts to impress with his comically inept renditions of ‘Shipbuilding’ and ‘I’m a believer’, hacked out on a badly tuned Spanish guitar. It had taken Fletch a while to be able to listen to Rock Bottom after his own accident, or so he’d told Sonia. Listening now to ‘A last straw’, Sonia can’t see how he could listen to it at all, so closely does she identify the album with the traumas of coming to terms with paralysis. Had Fletch felt the same giving way beneath him, of calm become storm, the same sense of being sucked down a plughole that she feels listening to the song?

Or perhaps the true beauty of the song is its generality. Aren’t we all holiday makers, she wonders, tangled together like seaweed in our borrowed homes, unaware of the snow storm awaiting us once fate starts to violently convulse the paperweight of our lives, showering us like snowdrops and leaving us to float like embers down towards the rocky bottom? The head behind us? Is that our own headstone as we are buried in the sand or engulfed by the water? She thinks of The Wasteland. Death by Fire. Death by Water. Death by Burial. But then Wyatt is insistent: “please don’t wait for the paperweight”. Live now, he says. The paperweight will come regardless. Plunge into the water, head over heels, embrace the chaos of the fall. We must offer ourselves up and trust, he seems to be saying, that some one will be there to touch us. To touch us when we collapse.

Sonia O’Donnell slides the headphones out from under her headscarf and rests back in her seat. She closes her eyes as the plane ripples gently on its way through some mild turbulence. She is smiling. She keeps smiling a serene, delicate little secret smile as she dozes, gently alternating waking and snoozing until the aircraft’s computer begins the soft, controlled descent.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

England 2, Sweden 2....

Oh well. Look on the bright side: at least we've got an extra day to prepare for the next game.

And so have the team.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Blood money....

We've just come back from Cornwall, it's a lovely sunny day - the sort you know from experience will not likely be bettered all summer - and we're about to board our bus at Richmond. As we shuffle on board, me just behind S. lugging our hefty wheely suitcase, a woman in "a sorta pants suit type of thing" barges unceremoniously past S., virtually pushing her ot of the way. She carries on gabbing on her mobile phone to (I'm making an assumption here) her mother in that disgusting South African accent as she makes her way to her seat at the front of the bus.

We trudge past her, fuming.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Apocalypse at one's elbow: "Girlfriend in a coma" by Douglas Coupland.

In an essay on T.S. Eliot's poem, The Wasteland, Stephen Spender recalls a conversation he had with its author. With the boundaries arrived at by the second world war freezing into those of the Cold War 'iron curtain', Spender asked Eliot how he saw the future of western civilisation panning out. How will it all end, Tom? "Internecine warfare", was the poet's frosty reply. Clearly disturbed, Spender asked for clarification - (reassurance, perhaps?) "People killing one another in the street", was Eliot's chilling confirmation of the likely denouement.

Living as we do in the shadow of the terror attacks in New York, Madrid, London, and with the daily confirmation of the extent of the occupation of Iraq's descent into a pit of anarchy we have quite acute apocalype antennae right now. Each of us is coming to terms with the notion that, in this brave new world with its long wars and ever-impending, climate-induced entropy, we are each ourselves perhaps a budding de Menezes or New Orleans homeless. As Eliot's forboding words suggest, each generation can discern their own imminent demise. In our now, our apocalypse seems more complex, more real, more imminent than that which Eliot feared but did not live to see played out. Well, it's ours, isn't it. It's strange then to read the end of days scenario delineated in the much-lauded Douglas Coupland's 1998 novel, Girlfriend in a coma from amid the canary-shirted solidarity of our own bag-check-at-every-turn present. Written in what we can now see as the relative serenity of the era of the Lewinsky/Whitewater scandals, Girlfriend in a coma envisages a now familiar finale for the planet. But was he just a good guesser, or is there something sinister about Coupland's Apocalypse? And what's with all the Smiths quotes?

The novel begins with a postcard from the edge of time. Jared, "a ghost", reports back from the "end of the world" where "the air smells like there's a tire fire half a mile uproad". "Fires still burn" and the "weather now tends to extremes". So far, so familiar. "Tennis rackets silently unstring inside dark, dry closets. Ten million pictures fall from ten million walls". Fleas the size of rats suck on rats the size of cats...

But back to the ghost of troubled Jared, who was snatched away, mid-catch in October 1979, aged 16, his promising football career (American, not 'soccer', of course) in Northern Vancouver and, if his brief, "sex binge"-filled maturity is anything to go by, a life of prodigious bonking cut short by a "bout of cancer". Nevertheless, rather than cry over unspilled milk, Jared is stoical. "Earth was kind to me", he reflects, and the leukaemia that did for him so young was his "Great Experience", without one of which, "a person's life will have been for naught". But would Jared the jock do it all again the same way? You betcha! Why? "Because I learned something along the way. Most people don't learn things along the way." A shame as it's "the better thing in the end." But what - if anything - will we learn from the story of the ones he left behind?

A December night in the same year, on Grouse Mountain where, "atop crystal snow shards beneath penlight stars", Jared's "official" best friend, Richard, and his girlfriend Karen are "pumping like lions", "the inside of their heads like hot slot machines clanging out silver dollars, rubies and sugar candies". Callow and spoiled (not to mention freshly "deflowered"), they meet up with their similarly callow and spoiled friends, Linus, Wendy, Hamilton and Pam at a "house wrecker" of a party. As the house wrecking youths go about doing their thang, "angry, dreadful children, ungrateful monsters, sharks in bloodied water, lashing out at this generic house" ( were young once too though, weren't you Doug?) Karen passes out. "Mom's a walking pharmacy", she tells Pammie before washing down a paltry rider of two valium with a Tab heavy voddie and tab. Before she has time even to whisper her last goodbyes, she has gone into a coma, one which will take care of her for the next 17 years. It's serious, alright.

In a note that Kare (as she's nicely abbreviated) conveniently passes to Richard before taking her enforced, epoch-avoiding catnap, we learn that Kare's forty million winks have been preceded by strange lucid moments in which she has been privvy to "bits of the future". Unsurprisingly, perhaps (well, we do live there, after all) "it's not such a good place". It's "dark" and "everybody looks so old and the neighbourhood looks so shit". In her vegetative state, Karen is, we sense, already inhabiting this time off in the distance, patiently awaiting her friends as they make their way there to meet her. This they do in the conventional manner, acquiring addictions - alcohol, gadgets galore, heroin - and various media-related careers (most of the gang seem to work on the production team designing ghoulish monsters and sets for an X-Files style TV show - except Wendy, a conveniently located Doctor) and generally becoming soulless, gadget-obsessed automata. The tone shifts accordingly, from the lyricism and "mentholated and pure air" of Richard and Karen's youthful mountain-top coupling to the demise, rendered in convincing Chandler-ese, of Hamilton's marriage, which "didn't just wobble, it crashed like a dynamited casino".

Through all this growing up, Karen remains resolutely absent, doing little more than waste away and have the child she conceived during her chilly ski-slope session with Richard delivered by C-section. Megan, the child airlifted from Karen's snoozing womb, grows into your basic "I am become death" black-eyed, black-clad goth nightmare teenager. And so the years career by, it seems at times almost at life speed, and the "sweetness" and "gentleness" of the seventies now seems light years away, replaced as it is by "work, work, work, work, work". The still supine Karen serves as a silent reminder to her increasingly lost and spiritually vacuous friends "that some frail essence from a now long-vanished era still existed, that the brutality and extremes of the modern world were not the way the world ought to be. The passing of time, with all its sickening crimes, eh?

And then Karen wakes up. (Did you really not think she'd pull through?) "Skeletal, still, like bones being reduced in a kitchen pot", but able now to vocalise her reproach for the present she once foresaw. Karen begins the process of coming to terms with not only what she missed [and this is just what 1989 had to offer]:

The fall of the Berlin Wall,
the AIDS quilt...crack. Cloning.
Life on Mars. Velcro. Charles and Diana,
MAC cosmetics. Imagine learning so much
stuff at once.

but also, what she has woken up to: "strange young pop stars engineered to disturb parents", "blue nail polish, hygiene products, better pasta", "people [who] look confident even when they're buying chewing gum or walking the dog". But there's an emptiness and a lack too, in those confident, gum-chewing folk - "they're despairing about the world... the confidence is a mask". What went wrong? "We lost. The machines won." Now all we have is "work, work, work, work, work, work", "work, work, work, get, get, get". And better pasta. Still doesn't quite make up for missing out on the arrival of Velcro, though does it?

And then, just when you think it can't get much worse, it all goes - to put it mildly - very Pete Tong indeed. People start falling asleep, dying, there is widespread panic, civil unrest around the globe, mass looting until, with chilling inevitability, people start killing each other in the streets...

In the last section of the book things go, you might say, a bit even weirder. Coupland aims for a Capra-esque morality play coda - it's a big ask. Suspension of our disbelief on this scale demands that the pay-off delivers. It's a high risk strategy and it's not entirely convincing now, from our hidey holes inside the apocaylpse. The 6 friends, plus Megan and her sprog, are the last people on earth, rolling around in useless cash - "money's over", after all - and jewellry, scavenging tinned and packet foods whilst the planet writhes in oddly beautiful death throes; "gray, cabbagey Nagasaki ash clouds", "oily gorp has spilled into the waves and burns a Bahamian turqoise blue", "blood and soil mixed together like the centre of a Black Forest cake", " cubicles - an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, yellow sticky notes falling like leaves from a tree onto the carpeting." They have lived as if there's no future, grown up with the cynicism of living at the end of history. Now they will be shown that end. With what would in 1998 have seemed like post-modern glee but now appears arch and irritating, jocular Jared, the ghostly jock floats around as a ball of light (when he's not parading as a sort of football kitted Mike Teevee and impregnating Wendy by doing his "wuuuuuhhhhhhrrrr - I can stand inside you because I'm a ghost" trick) outlining the It's a Wonderful Life-style pay off. The gang can return to their previous lives, provided they promise to:

"Ask questions, no screech questions out loud -
while kneeling in front of the electric doors at
Safeway, demanding other citizens ask questions
along with you....grind questions into the
glass on photocopiers...make barcodes print out
fables, not prices..."

And so it goes on. Halfway through this breathless and, admittedly, quite rousing section, I had a mental image of Robin Williams getting a bunch of public schoolboys to leap atop their desks, throw their caps in the air and shout "seize the day". It's not only the Hollywood-esque rhetoric that jars. "Are you ready to change - to join - to become part of what's next?"

And this is the problem. We all know what came next. So when Coupland has Richard bracing himself for his return, refreshed and renewed of purpose, to his old life, contemplating a future in which

"we'll draw our line in the sand and force the
world to cross our line. Every cell in our body
explodes with the truth."

It's kind of scary in the middle of an actual apocalypse, isn't it? Kind of real. Because we feel we know people like this. They blog from tents in the middle of an actual warzone about how they can't wait to get back out there, killing people.

They get on our trains.

Coupland is a Canuck, born on a NATO base in what was then West Germany. A child of the Cold War reaching his maturity on the wrong side of the commencement of the 'long war'. I don't for one moment apportion any PNAC sympathies to him or his work. But it's hard not to see this vision of the future as a well-intuited version of our own hellish present and not the rejuvenation, the redemption that Coupland seems to believe he's offering us. So much has what happened in September 2001 warped the world. "We will be the strong ones", Karen declares towards the end. Chapter 32 is entitled "Super power". Coupland describes a progressive version of the discovery of the New World:

It was in it's own, unglamourous way, the goal
of all human history - the wars, the genius, the
madness, the grief - it was all to reach ever
farther and farther and, well, farther. Progress
is real. Destiny is real. You are real.

And now, it seems to me, we are all living with a weird inversion of that progress, that destiny. Earlier in the text, Coupland posits the idea that:

an overriding principle of our lives then was that infinite freedom creates a society of unique, fascinating individuals. Failure at this would mean failure of our societal duty.

That, perhaps, is the "sweetness" and "gentleness" his protagonists felt they had lost with the end of the 70s. The irony is that, as I type, many Americans feel more than ever that they possess infinite freedom and that they are serving their societal duty by sending troops out to the Middle East to set fire to women, children and innocents alike. Coupland is right to ask for more of his fellow North Americans. Ask those questions. Demand those answers. But who was listening? Who was listening in Florida, in 2000? In anywhere in 2004? Some, but not enough. Reading Girlfriend in a coma now, it seems to come from a different age. It's less that Coupland's conceit - you want no future? I'll give you no future - is inherently weak. It's more that history has trumped him. The cultural compass has been set so overwhelmingly along "if you're not with us, you're against us lines" that Coupland's text is fighting a battle that's already been lost. Dissatisfaction with the listlessness of the post-Cold War smugness is easily morphed by history into a critique of slack, moral laxities of the end of the Clinton era. In cultural terms, 1998 feels as far away as the 1960s. There has been a subtle cultural shift, one that - like it or not - prepared the ground for the rise of Bush and, ultimately, his very real line in the sand.

It's easy to look back from this vantage point and see the pre-9/11 world as peaceful idyll. In one's own life, the easeful, low-rent flat, full wine rack and extant parents are wistfully recalled. The traumas of the planet and the self may occasionally coincide - as many of us have found - but regardless of the great events of history we will all suffer our own, personal 9/11s - now and always. Coupland makes a distinction between time and history. We can argue about history, but each of us lives within their own uniquely segmented stream of time. It just happens that we live in a time now when it seems harder to make the separation between our lives and history. Coupland insists of the characters in Girlfriend in a coma that they reappraise their lives and suggests that their individualism has led them down a cul de sac. In very broad stroke Historical terms, the collective that is America has reasserted itself in a particularly bombastic fashion. So perhaps it's not the best time to read someone making, as Coupland does at the end of the novel, the clarion call for us to merge our personal and collective destinies. "The world's over now. Our time begins." Yes. We know. It's serious.

Girlfriend in a coma, by Douglas Coupland. London, Flamingo, 1998.

p.s. The Smiths lines. I hadn't forgotten. They're completely superfluous.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Monday, 19 June 2006

Bint Magazine...

Thanks to the recently returned from Cornish Cornwall (and bloomin' lovely first bint of blog) Spinsterella (or "Spinny" as those who owe her money call her in a vain attempt to ingratiate themselves and fend off repayment of the debt for another 6 months - you'll get your bloody money!) for this "Are you a Bint" questionnaire pinched from the wonderfully named Bint magazine. For those who thought that bints (is it too obvious that I love that word?) were just cack-handed sex objects placed on earth to act as an unpaid repository for their men folk's diseased and rotting/eloquent and well girthed [delete as applicable] sexual organs who are also quite handy in the kitchen and 'making good' around the house - then think again! They are creatures capable of wit, erudition and if you treat them right, they might even be persuaded to 'blow on your candle' (as I believe the expression has it...) as well as giving you something to do with your todger when you're not down the boozer or there's an inexplicable gap in the fixture list etc. (....or in my case, treating it with an unpleasant bicarbonate of soda and savlon based poultice...) And what's more, these modern bints can hold their own on a BOGOF Bacardi Breezer Binge (at least they can before they inevitably end up on their backs with their vomit-sprayed legs in the air in a shopping precinct in Bury St. Edmonds yelling "Fnaaarr Cun - shitAAAAAAARRRRRK" at no one in particular....) And they know their Thierry Henrys from their Lucas Neils - although the technicalities of the offside rule are no doubt still some way beyond them....

btw - in the unlikely event that anyone's interested, I scored 65.5%. There is even a graphic to prove it. [Well, there was one there but it seems to have disappeared - you'll just have to take my word for it now, won't you??]

"And annover fing, it does make a lovely bit of apple crumble...."

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Celebrity hell

Spotted this week by S. in Richmond:

Amanda Lamb (x 1)

Kim Catterell (x 1)

Spotted by A.H. in Richmond (coming out of HMV, gabbling on his mobile):

Andy Marr (x 1)

Spotted by S. and I on Sunday with what looked like her parents in tow going into what gave every impression of being a nice little afternoon BBQ/lunch on the lawn with close family and friends-type affair, just round the corner from our flat in Teddytown):

Claire Goose (x 1)

What is it with all these famous folk? Why can't they leave us alone?? It's bad enough that we have to endure them on our screens at all hours of the day, without them emerging from behind the cathode ray tube, strutting around as arrogantly there and present and in your face as any normal, obscure, pointless and unknown beyond their family and small circle of friends person, casually blurring the already tenuous boundary between fantasy and reality....I mean, what have we done to deserve this intrusion....this obscene goldfish bowl existence...this.......well, it's almost on a par with rape, isn't it? Aren't they satisfied with their weekly copy of Fuck off!! You Irrelevance magazine? Can't these people get a life of their own instead of following us around, obsessing over the daily trivialities of our dull and humdrum lives? Do they get some perverse kind of kick out of seeing us first thing in the morning, the remnants of the previous night's drool still caked around the corners of our mouths, as we lumber hungover, dehydrated and three quarters of an hour late for our demeaning and ultimately futile little jobs telling other dull and dismal little turds that they can't have this or that particular service because they haven't brought any identification with them and it's not that we're trying to be unhelpful or anything, it's just that we're bound by the data protection act, oblivious to the fact that we've come out of the house wearing our t-shirts inside out with one sock over our trouser leg and have forgotten to do up our flies??


© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Saturday, 17 June 2006


Martin Amis on Malcolm Lowry:

So the years of Lowry's maturity unfold: binnings, bannings, arrests, ejections, screams in the night, expired visas and lost passports, together with a lengthening rap sheet of domestic arson, larceny and GBH. In 1938 his first wife Jan 'rationed' him to a quart of liquor a day, but he hoarded his allowance to buy 'fortified wines costing only fifty cents a gallon'. In 1947 his second wife, Margaret, noticed that Lowry, after a period of abstinence, had started enjoying a cocktail before lunch - and 'pre-dinner cocktails started as early as 3pm'. In 1949 he was averaging three litres of red wine per day topped up by two litres of rum. His varicose veins stretched from groin to ankle. One morning he collapsed and started 'vomiitng black blood'. We then duly witness the straitjacket, the padded cell, and the serious discussion, with wife and doctors present, on the pros and cons of lobotomy.

Towards the end, even Lowry's freak accidents and cluster catastrophes are assuming an air of the dankest monotony. An average hour, it seems, would include a jeraboam of Windolene or Optrex, a sanguinary mishap with a chainsaw or a cement-mixer and a routinely bungled attempt to guillotine his wife.

Thank fuck he never discovered an off licence selling el cheapo Primus Premium Belgian Beer.

(Amis Extract from a review of Pursued by Furies by Gordon Bowker in The War Against Cliche Jonathan Cape, 2001.)

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Thursday, 15 June 2006

I hold a cup of wisdom, but there is nothing within...

[droning sitar, swarmandel, dilruba etc. Tabla starts up....]

A long time ago, in the Zi Duang province of eastern country, a young merchant's son approached his father. "Father, I grow restless living this life of pampered ease and indolence. I wish to acquire wisdom so that I may one day repay you for all the many kindnesses and good fortunes your wealth has bestowed upon me. I propose to travel to Western province that I may study there at the feet of the great Zen master, returning here only when he has taught me all there is he has to teach. What say you father of my plan?" The merchant replies, "you are a fine son of whom I am duly proud. I will give you my finest steed and a manservant to assist you on your arduous journey. Tell the great Zen master that once he has taught you all he has to teach, I will gladly reward him with anything it pleases him to ask of me. Oh, lovely boy, you have made me the happiest father alive - there is nothing I have in my possession could mean more to me than this. Come, hug me my son before my heart bursts with pride." The two hug and the next day after a huge farewell banquet, the merchant's son and his manservant set off on the long and treacherous journey to Western province.

For many days, the merchant's son and his manservant travel, through cool valleys, along burning plateaux, fearfully skulking through the forest of thieves, riding in awe in the shadow of the great glass tipped mountains until finally, exhausted and relieved, they enter the great Zen master's academy in the Zi Duang province of eastern country. A huge crowd of apprentices and students gathers to help the merchant's son from his mount, carrying the clearly exhausted young man to the cool enclosure of the Zen master's tent. The Zen master gets up from his meditations and bids the merchant's son to join him for a ceremonial tea. With two servants at his sides cooling the young man's brow with broad leaf fans, the merchant's son makes his appeal to the great Zen master. "Sir, I have travelled many miles, over long, arduous terrain to sit before you and beg you to allow a dense and witless clot such as myself to humbly submit to your tutelage that I may one day acquire wisdom and thus repay my father all his kindly patronage by one day being worthy of handling his great affairs. My father's wealth is unsurpassed and he has promised to grant you whatever you may ask of him once I have been the beneficiary of your great and wise teaching."

The great Zen master, waving a hand at an underling who scurries off to the servants' quarters, replies to the merchant's son, "so, young man - you wish to learn the wisdom of the great Zen master? You know this may take many years? You must follow every instruction of mine without question and submit to my tutelage unconditionally - is that understood?" "Of course great Zen Master, whatever you ask." The servant reappears carrying a large teapot and two small cups which he places before the great Zen master. "Now, no more of this until we have had some tea - I am sure that you are very tired after your long journey, yes?" says the great Zen master as he begins to pour tea into one of the small, teal coloured cups. The merchant's son smiles and nods in reply but begins to frown as he observes that the great Zen master is still pouring tea from the pot into the small tea cup. "Excuse me, sir", the merchant's son begins, but the great Zen master continues to pour, despite having long since filled the small vessel. "Sir...", exclaims the merchant's son as he watches uncomprehendingly the tea flowing over the edges of the tray like a vast river breaking its banks, transforming the fine, white linen tablecloth into a sodden, brown flood plain. "Accchh! You silly old fool!!", exclaims the merchant's son as scolding hot tea begins to drip from the tablecloth onto his lap.

The great Zen master stops pouring, places the teapot down on the drenched table top, bends towards the young man and says, "that, pupil, is your first lesson", then, with a courteous bow, walks off...

Our serialization of 'How Green was my Rinpoche?' by Windsor Davies continues tomorrow....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Thursday, 1 June 2006

So Long - And Thanks For All the 'Buie.......

Well, Swipesters,

There comes a time in the affairs of men - and no doubt in those of highly disturbed individuals with Drambuie-based body rub and stocking fetishes too - when they have to look destiny square in the jaw, run a quick mental risk assessment and come to the painful conclusion that, with tearfilled eyes and weary heart, they must bow to the inevitable and accept that the end of the road has unmistakably been reached. Such a time has now come to pass in the affairs of this man (.....or rather of this individual with a Drambuie-based body rub and stocking fetish, if you want to be pedantic about it.....) As such, I'd really like to take this opportunity to thank all my loyal readers out there in cyberspace and to tell you both what fun I've had over the last 18 months posting up the inane gibberish and pathetic gallery of lewd leg shots and lingerie catalogue outcuts that have characterised The Robert Swipe Show and made it one of the most widely reviled and happily ignored excresences to blight the face of the world wide inter web today.

As I said, I'd like to tell you what fun I've had but unfortunately, I can't do that. Actually, if I'm totally honest, it's been absolute hell - every moment has been positively hateful. In fact, if I was asked to make a comparison that would give you some idea of what I've had to endure to get this thing posted up every day, it would be this: I'd have to say it's been akin to having to endure a hugely embarrassing physical impediment - such as a pronounced hump or a degree of spasticity guaranteed to induce a smirk from even the most politicaly correct and priggish - in a playground full of bullying oiks. And that's on a good day. At its worst, when it's really bad, imagine someone undoing one of your callipers and throwing it up onto the roof of big school so you have to hobble up to the playground attendant so she can make a big song and dance about calling the caretaker and how no one's going anywhere until we find out who's responsible for hurling little Robbie Raspberry's false leg up on the chimney - "look at the poor, helpless little cripple, he's DEE-YEVA-STEE-YATED" (she's a Geordie, you see) - and you have to hop around feeling the hateful eyes of the whole school burning into the back of your polyester jumper while they drag Mrs. Trethwilliams out of the local pub so she can risk life and limb up a flimsy ladder drunkenly retrieving your calliper, three tennis balls and a sodden copy of Escort magazine Emrys Thomas threw up there moments earlier when he heard the Headmaster coming towards him round the corner. That gives you some idea, I hope, of the ignominy of it all. As a result, I have barely been able to breathe for the last 6 weeks as the pressure of posting has mounted and the abjection I have felt with every new joyless post, each one unfunnier than its predecessor, has led to the same reaction from the public at large - unenthused at best, but more usually just plain hostile.

The almost comically poor reception given them has become evidence to me that the days of this once thriving blog are now terminally numbered. And all this despite using my recently acquired fortune (...the less said about how I came to be a Turkish lire millionaire(ss) the better - suffice to say if the link between my highly flammable Cliff Thorburn face masks, Archie the Sniper Daschund and the deaths of the 17 people ahead of me in line for the Istanbul lottery hedgefund inheritance is ever discovered, then I may well be back doing this in the near future....) to hire some of the funniest script writers around. Those valiant (and, it must be said, chronically unfunny) chaps who were desperate enough to forsake conventional cash payments to work on the basis of being repaid for their efforts purely in sexual favours administered on a weekly basis by a slightly fading erotic author and occasional televison news panelist smeared in alcocohol (literally alcohol and coco) and baby oil, did their best. But sadly the quality of the blog still has not shifted an inch from its nadir of awfulness. Consequently, being too damn wealthy to give much of a hootenanny either way, it is with some small regret that I have now decided to end this pitiful sham once and for always.

There are some of you out there who have transcended the primeval stew of jealousy and cliquishness that makes up the world of internet weblogging, the prevalence of which has mischievously barred my way to the top of the ladder of light entertainment success. I know who you are. You know who you are. We all know who each other are? So there seems little point in churning out a litany of thanks and we will cut out the backslapping and the tearfilled valedictions. But neither will there not be no recriminations either against those who have thwarted me. I can forgive the selfish, jealous hacks who have conspired against me and chosen to bathe smugly (note avoidance of split infinitive, indicative of classy non-hackness) in their own mediocrity rather than embrace and admire the true original, the la vida loca himself. Yes, they will not hear any carping from me. I can rise above the pettiness of those who prefer the safe and familiar to the bold world of comedy which we here at Swipe Towers have striven to present to the world - we may not always have reached them, but we were always aiming at the stars!!!!!!....

Fear not, such small minded pygmies will not linger long in my thoughts as I plot my next move, attempting to raise the bar still further from the dizzying elevation we have achieved here in such a small space of time. For now, all I will say is this:

I'll get you you bastards - you'll be sorry you ever crossed me. I'd rip my own daughter's throat out rather than let this despicable betrayal go unavenged. Well, if I had a daughter I would. I have a memory like an elephant, you know - and faeces to match - and I'll hunt each one of you down and by the time I've finished with you, you'll......WHY-YI-YOUGHDDA!!!!

So, here we are - at last, the end of the road. Seriously, thanks to those of you who occasionally turned up and had a mooch around before moving on to other, funnier, more original and witty sites (you bastards.....). You can now move on once and for all, safe in the knowledge that you have gleaned all there was to glean here. I know I shan't be missed and I'm sure there will be a step in the stride of all those visitors to the Grauniad Ulnitimed news blogs who will no longer have to put up with my puerile, attention seeking remarks. Have fun sorting out the problems of the should be able to sort it all out the quicker for my absence, I'm sure.

Now, it's really time I should be getting away. No, really, I'll be alright - don't mind me, it's just something in my eye - no, honestly, it's nothing....I've got some Optrex in the car. Or maybe it's Windolene? It should get it out, whatever it is - probably taking half my cornea with it - but don't worry, I won't really be needing my eyesight much in the future now this is all over. What will I do next? Dunno - "what have you got?" Most likely I'll head out on the Rothergavenny bypass and see where it takes me. New friends, new thrills, new spills - you know. "Life in the old dog yet". Yeah, I'll be fine - don't spare me a thought, you go on and get on with your own lives and don't trouble your heads about an old fool like me. I'll be alright pottering along on my own....

Bye now.....

Take care....

Love on y'all,


p.s. I've got about 40 bound copies of the Best of The Swipe Show if anyone's interested.....I won't have any use for them.....let me know.....

.....they're free.......

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises