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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

California Demons...

Los Angeles. 1975. Curtains drawn at midday, Kraftwerk's 'Autobahn' plays quietly on the stereo as the room fills with the heady aroma of burning incense. The walls and floors of my luxurious apartment are bedecked with daubs of paint. Frantically scrawled symbols and arcane numerals designed to ward off evil spirits cover every available surface. They're not working. Tables shake, floorboards moan and impishly fitful light flits from candles that sigh and moan with the desolate grief of a million trapped souls. I'm so scared, so lonely; so frazzled I can barely face the few shorts steps out into the kitchen to put another vial of urine in the fridge.

Demons hate wee. Or so I'm told - that's why they're always trying to steal it, you see. It contains the essence of your soul, or so I'd read, so obviously you don't want that falling into the hands of some grubby little gremlin. Peppers don't agree with them either, - you know, red, green, yellow; those sort of peppers - so I've been stuffing myself with them too. Mind you, I'm not sure they agree with me either. They play havoc with your guts. In fact, last week I could barely keep my first bag of Aruldite down, my stomach was heaving so miserably from the pure cellulose diet. Sometimes I think it's almost worth being one of Lucifer's eternal concubines if it would mean a night off the can and no more fizzing and wheezing echoing around the bathroom as my poor, knotted intestines manfully attempt to break down the lethal stew of roughage-heavy vegetables and industrial strength adhesives on which I've been living for the past 6 months. Dark days.

But then a very good friend of mine took me to one side and said, Bob, take a look at yourself in the mirror. No, face on, you're like Flat Stanley from the sides. Come on man, pull yourself together.' And that's what I did. Out with the wee and in with the signed collection of Hermann Goering photos and the well known Berlin Transvestite with the big bazoombkas. And no more raw peppers. No, you'll find they're much more nutritious stuffed with a few button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and some finely chopped garlic. Just drizzle that little lot with some extra virgin olive oil and roast in the oven for 25 minutes on a medium heat.

I've probably forgotten more than I could ever remember about my LA nadir. I get the odd flashback now and then, of course, but it's all behind me now, really. Next came my dramatic renaissance in Berlin and the rest, as they say, is history. But they were, for a while, very bad times indeed. Still, could have been worse, I suppose. At least I never made a record with Lulu...

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Monday, 26 July 2010

Lady Grinning Soul...

A text from Lady Gaga:

Bob, srry 2 hear u r indisposed. I m making a new record. R u still able 2 produce?

Ciao gorge,


Listen lady - I may be living in assisted accommodation and require a nubile young rubber-clad wet nurse to get me started, but I can still produce alright. In fact, last week's ended up halfway up me chest! And there was enough there to father a sub-continent, believe me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of the Lady. She's certainly got a daintily manicured fingernail on the pulse of the modern psyche, that's fo sho. I could never stand it either when I got a call in the middle of jive talking my way across the Studio 54 floor - and you could hardly call the phones back then mobile, I can tell you. My first one needed its own road crew. You had to be careful too, walking about with a 6 foot high communication device pinned to your ear if Mick and Bianco were there. Take your eye off the ball for a second there and you'd end up trampled under the hooves of a white Arab charger. Must have cost a fortune in straw that thing. Cost me a tidy sum at Ladbrokes, I know that.

But there's a bitter sweetness for me when I think about the Lady's phenomenal success. I suppose part of it is that I see so much of myself there. I suppose seeing Gaga staging her spectacular shows, being swallowed up by eager hordes of papparrazzi, the whole planet waiting with bated breathe for a glimpse of your new look reminds me of another nervous young lad in gauzy female attire, perilously high heels and a wig made from loft insulation material.

Of course that's about where the similarity ends. Gaga's appealing to a much younger audience than I ever could have. In my day, children weren't allowed to stay up long enough to watch Top of the Pops until they were 12. Nowadays, they're having their second baby by the time they're 11. You can trot out any old badly programmed, tuneless Euro-thump racket and the 6 and under Market will lap it up. Then there are all the accessories: cobble together a pair of spectacles from a used ashtray and a bit of gaffa tape, stick a Gucci label on the side and you're laughing all the way to the Multinational Investment Corporation. He's got a canny business head on his petite shoulders has Gaga, I'll give him that.

Whereas in the old days, you had to be a bit more sophisticated. Mime, German Expressionist Theatre, Kabuki, automatic writing - these were just a few of the influences that went completely over the heads of most of my audience. Mine too, if truth be told. Especially that Kabuki. I thought it was a rice wine for the first 6 months. No surprise really that Fine Fare never seemed to be able to get hold of a bottle...

L.U.V. on ya,


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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Where are you now that I need some noise???...

There's a real buzz about the place today. A while back, up and coming West Coast teen angels The Dum Dum Girls wrote in to Jim'll Fix It to tell Jim what huge fans they were of your humble scribe and asking if it could be arranged for them to pay me a visit. After a hurried exchange of emails, Jim did indeed fix it for them to come over to the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Home for a cup of tea and a chat, and so we spent much of the morning getting ourselves tarted up to greet them and the film crew this afternoon. Unfortunately, there'd been a bit of a hoo-ha in the garden just before the girls were due to arrive. Cat Stevens had been doing a spot of gardening - or, as he's wont to call it, Jihad against the Scurrilous Infidel Overgrowth, which certainly sounds a better way of describing what, in effect, amounts to little more than pootling about a bit and, in between whistling 'Mujahedin has broken' and sticking pins in an alarmingly lifelike small doll bearing an uncanny resemblance to former 10,000 Maniacs chanteuse Natalie Merchant, deadheading a few rose bushes.

Anyway, call them what you like, Cat's endeavours were disturbed by an sinister rustling sound allied to what appeared to be the sounds consistent with a sustained physical struggle between two consenting adults. Curiosity aroused, Cat unsheathed the purely symbolic replica medieval scimitar he often carries around with him as a sign of the depth and devotion of his faith and began to wade into the verdant undergrowth - there are conflicting reports as to whether or not he was yelling 'Infidel, Infidel' or not, but I'd be highly surprised if he was. He went *right* off Dylan around the time of Slow Train Coming, for some reason. So, with lurid inevitability, a startled pair emerge blinking into the sunlight. Joan Collins and Oliver Tobias just can't seem to keep their hands off one another, can they? Poor Cat is visibly shaken at the sight of Joan wearing nothing but a silver fox fur and some lustily disarranged stockings and suspenders and almost loses a toe due to his having dropped the scimitar. Fortunately Oliver's had the good sense to cover what remains of his dignity with Joan's peaked leather cap or else there really would have been hell to pay in the nadger department.

Amid all this hoo-ha in the back garden, the planned visiting party lining the circular driveway leading up to the front of the Home has completely gone for a Burton. It's only after I finally manage to get Cat back into his tent that I notice out of the window four impeccably leggy, black-clad young ladies and a rather shifty looking cove in a chauffeur's outfit pacing around impatiently alongside a gleaming powder blue Rolls Royce. I finally arrive out front, breathless and generally discombobulated, to greet them. "Hello Girls, lovely to meet you. L.U.V. the stuff - which one's the writer? And who's the silver haired, cigar smoking midget with the bling?" "Now then, now then, Professor, Howzabout, oh yes indeedy, goodness gracious me..." (The silver haired, cigar smoking midget with the bling goes on like this for some time - I think he must have sprinkled some U-Hu into his Havana or something - he's barely coherent and what's more, there's a distinct whiff of urine emanating from his whereabouts) "Hi Bob," says the tall one, "we're the Dum Dum Girls - and this is Mr. Jimmy Saville, OBE..."

"Ah, of course! Jimster, it's indeed an honour and a privilege. I didn't recognise you without the flannelette flares and pimp's puffball cap. The scales have fallen. And that would explain the whiff of wee - it's all that marathon running; you just get used to going whenver you feel like it, I suppose. "Now, girls, Jim, follow me into our delightful Grade 1 listed assisted accomodation unit and I'll get the Battenburg on and fix us a brew. There's one thing I wanted to ask you ladies, it's about your name...I take it you're big fans of The Idiot? In particular, the song Dum Dum Boys"?" (Seasoned Swipe followers will recall that I spent much of the late 70s ensconced in a soundproof bunker in Berlin producing some of the most innovative popular music ever to have been coaxed out of a Fischer-Price turntable and a cheap Casio keyboard. With me were Fripp, Eno and a young roister-doister from the outskirts of Detroit named James Ousterberg - otherwise known to the world as Iggy Pop. Sure, he may be little more than a disgustingly withering, superannuated, miniturised car insurance salesman made of latex now, but back then Jimmy was indeed the canine's bollocks. We recorded his LP 'The Idiot' as a dry run for my own experimental trilogy of albums - My Teutonic Espadrilles, 1000-year Krankhaus Loewenbrau Pogrom and the in my view criminally under-rated Strassenbahnhaltestelle of the Gods - and one of my favourite tracks from that seminal work was called, you guessed it, "The Dum Dum Boys".)

"Sorry, never heard of it," pipes up the blonde at the back who looks as if she might have taken my line about 'Jap girls in synthesis' a little too much to heart.

After this somewhat awkward opening, we spend the rest of the afternoon pleasantly enough, sipping our tea and comparing influences. They're big on Spector and the jangly 80s guitar sound whereas, obviously, I'm more of a Neu!!/Can/Guru with Candi Staton on b/vs Scot Walker playing a treated Japanese nose-flute kind of guy. But I do like what I've heard of their stuff, and tell 'em so too. But, as I also tell the girls, they're only at the start of what could prove to be a very exciting but strenuous journey towards the top of a very greasy pole. Whether they can develop their free-spirited, open-throated harmonies and sunny psychedelia and begin to write the sort of material that addresses the really important issues of the day - incontinence, pension protection and the future of long term care for the elderly adhesive abuser under the Lib-Con coalition - remains to be seen...

L.U.V. on ya,


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Karma Karma Down Doobie Doobie Doo...

Eno pops over with a bundle of recent National Geographicals for me and a new random sudoku generator for the iPhone. It's the first time he's come to visit me at the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Home. The puzzles are virtually impossible to solve, but the programme does emit a very soothing ambient bleep every time you fill in a box wrong, which is nice; although, to be fair, the rather cumbersome transmitter he has strapped to his back and that is generating the algorithms also seems to be interfering with Lyndsay de Paul's electronic bladder control system, which is not going down too well in the girls' corner.

Whatever it is, something appears to be causing a severe inflation of her already rather bulbous beauty spot which is now beginning to exhibit the dimensions and appearance of a tennis ball that's been persistently soaked in a very muddy puddle. Fortunately, Yvonne Goolagong is up in front of matron, accused of graffiti-ing the ladies loo, otherwise you can see that it's an accident waiting to happen. She's vehemently denying it, of course; insists it's Virginia Wade who has festooned the women's powder room walls with the likenesses of koalas, wallabies and boomerangs. But then, as Mandy Rice Davies would probably say - 'She would say that, wouldn't she?'.

But yes, it's good to have a visitor and Brian's always excellent company, if a little quiet. He's also highly adept at smuggling in 'recreational substances' using his reliably garish headgear - although even he must have been *seriously* stretched trying to secrete a tub of industrial grade Air-tex inside an ostentatious ostrich feather tiara - can't imagine what that's done to his scalp. The ingenious scoundrel's somehow managed to keep it moist too. That little lot'll keep me pinned to the ceiling til next Tuesday, with any luck.

Suitably refreshed, we're having a lovely old natter until Neil flipping Sedaka starts pounding away on the old Joanna, completely destroying the ambience of dignified serenity. He's had that Rick Rubin in his swanky private chambers all week, recording his new hip-hop LP. It's great to see the old mincer having a new lease of life. but there's a time and a place, isn't there? OK, so Neil's never lost it, but is afternoon tea in a retirement home for superannuated variety artistes really an appropriate forum in which to be wailing out, 'Yo, I hear laughter in the Mo-fo rain' to an aggressively overdriven beatbox accompaniment?? I think not. He wants to get busy with the old dust pan and brush too, when he's finished pounding the ivories. It's like a sequin shagpile in here after all his matinee idol head shaking - the stuff comes off his shoulders like dandruff. Or maybe it is dandruff. Can you get it from a wig?

L.U.V. on ya,


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Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Heart of the Matter...

As my more loyal readers will know, 2009 wasn't the happiest of years here at Swipe Towers. Not only did the year bring your humble scribe more than his fair share of chronic health problems, it also saw me become increasingly estranged from my beloved wife, the glamour model and puppeteer, Roberta Swipe.

Yes, one way or another, it was a pretty tough year for the old Swipe ticker. No sooner had I recovered from what subsequently proved to be a fairly severe silent cruciate embolism (or knee trembler, as it's more commonly known) than I had my heart broken good and proper by the former trouble and strife. I was barely out of the neck brace before I was forced to endure her public canoodling with a barely distinguishable procession of lithe young mannequins. Things reached an insurmountable impasse between us when she was seen emerging from a topless bar physically entwined with the mini Iggy Pop from the insurance commercial only hours after having publicly proposed to Lamb Chop live on air halfway through the Shari Lewis Show. Then, to add injury to insult, I suffered what has since been diagnosed as a recurrence of the heart murmur that forced me to pull out of the 'Marmite Macht Frei' tour a couple of years ago.

Fortunately, this time my health problems had less impact on my schedule as I'd already scaled back a lot of my work commitments in light of my mounting knee woes. Still, I won't pretend. It wasn't a bit of a blow when this wretched heart murmur of mine forced me to to withdraw myself from contention for a place in Fabio Capello's world cup squad - especially as it had started murmuring things like '4-4-2 is a dead formation you hide-bound Italian caution monkey. Get Cole in the hole and start playing it on the deck, you useless mafioso bollock brain. (It was murmuring in flaming Italian too, which can only have made matters worse...I dread to think what my scores were on that much-maligned Capello index of his.

Still, what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger, no matter how much havoc it might play with your no claims bonus. The surgeons say it could all have been considerably worse. They put it down to all the seig heiling I got up to at Victoria Station in the mid-seventies. The doctor bids reckon that if it hadn't been for the fact that stack-heeled glitter boots make it virtually impossible to goose-step, I'd be *dead* by now!!

Fortunately, the recent sale of the rights to my back catalogue has given me enough financial security to mean that I don't need to worry so much on the work front. I've also been fortunate enough to be able to move into assisted accommodation. So all my fans the world over can rest assured that even though the hits might have dried up, their idol will be looked after most handsomely.

I'd be lying if I said that being incarcerated in the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Home hasn't been pretty hard to adjust to - especially as I've been forced to room with Kenny Lynch while they get my room ready for me - although how it can take grown men three days to daub a few Kabbalist symbols on the walls is beyond me - I mean, where do they go to get the goat's blood; Greece????

Oh well, better dash, Kenny's hovering behind me desperate to get on the laptop to pre-order his Arnold Palmer US Masters Golf wii set. I just hope he gets out of his pyjamas before he starts swinging away on that thing - no, hold on a mo, I think those are his new flares...



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On Becoming a National Treasure...

Yes folks, it's all true. As of 23.00 hours tonight I will officially join the likes of Stephen Fry, John Peel, Patricia Routledge, Alan Bennett, Derek Nimmo and Raoul Moat and become a fully-fledged National Treasure. The envelope came through the other day - 2nd class post, obviously, what with all the recent cutbacks. You have to provide your own ermine trim now too, apparently as the cost of stoats has gone through the roof by all accounts. They've all been bought up by the hedge funds it would seem - although why they can't just stick to buying up hedges instead of storing the world's supply of cocoa in a vast shed in Uganda with half the world starving is anybody's guess.

Still, it's not all bad news - I do get a weekly pair of state-sponsored hold-ups courtesy of the Great British Taxpayer and my own choice of assistant to act as Chief Petty Officer to the National Hose who will be kept on a retainer during weekly office hours to help with all the routine admin stuff - laddering them, and so forth. I'm currently torn between asking Brian Blessed and Mariella Frostrup. Obviously nimble-fingered, improbably feisty Mariella is in pole position, but I can't help but think that Brian would bring a certain gravitas to the position - plus he can do the silly voices and has a pole of his own, or so I'm reliably informed down at the Polski Sklep. of course it's a 24/7 service when you reach the lofty heights of the Order of the Garter, in which eventuality, I've already put the feelers out as to the availability of Vicki Michelle. (I'm assuming, of course, that Gordon Kaye will already have been booked.)

I'll obviously be mindful of the harsh economic circumstances in which much of the nation I'll be treasuring for find themselves. I've asked Iceland to do the catering for the post-investiture party and Michael McIntyre will be Master of Ceremonies - you can't get more cheap and nasty than that now, can you?

I'll also be making sure that I give something back in return for the adulation and awe of my fellow citizens. In line with the Coalition's new Big Society initiative, along with a host of other celebrities, minor royals and investment bankers, I'll be helping out with the refuse collection in the Thames Ditton area every 4th Wednesday. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind residents that green waste and otherwise recyclable materials may not be collected...

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