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Friday, 29 April 2011

Betjeman's Banana Blush...

This is lovely and, according to this piece in The Grauniad, quite hip too. I picked this up in the Shooting Star Hospice place in Hampton Hill on Wednesday. What a lovely way to spend a morning; trotting from shop to shop in brilliant sunshine, idly flicking through the Mantovani and Mathis in the hope of finding a gem. That's about as close to the England Betjeman eulogises that it's possible to get nowadays, I guess; the smell of old things and decay, and the merest sliver of hope and redemption of time lost that can only be found in the forgotten and discarded. And this was it; a little ray of sunlight - from opulently textured sleeve, to gleaming, dust-free grooves - a precious English gem...

(It's so nice, I've posted up all the tracks. Enjoy...)

Side one:

Indoor games near Newbury

Business girls

Agricultural caress

Youth and age on Bielieu River Hants

The arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel

Side two:

Lenten thoughts

The Cockney amorist

Longfellow's visit to Venice

The flight from Bootle

A Shropshire lad

On a portrait of a deaf man

A child ill

Oh, and that lovely old Charisma label...:


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

"A loathesome spotted reptile..."

Ah, Liberals, eh? You've gotta love 'em - although not in the biblical sense, obviously...unless of course you can stretch to a pretty decent lawyer. For those of you who thought their complete absence of any sense of morality began with the devil's pact they've just entered into with the Tories, think again.

Where better - or wierder? - to start another trawl through the Swipe Towers vinyl archives than this superb piece of satire from the much-missed Peter Cook. I can't remember where I picked this one up from - I have a feeling it may have been passed on to me by my Great Uncle Gweekington. I certainly remember seeing its memorable Gerald Scarfe illustrated sleeve at my grandmother's old pad in Hackney.

Regardless, this little piece of history dates from 1979, the year of the Jeremy Thorpe trial (if you're not aware of or can't remember it, the details are eloquently laid out here). Looking back, you can see why Cook's cultural currency would have been pretty high at that time - high enough to earn a release on a renowned 'punk' label, at any rate. Derek and Clive were an established illicit and foul-mouthed oral tradition spreading through most school playgrounds around this time. Cook had also recently hosted a marvellous pop programme called Revolver which featured many up and coming punk acts, including the Sex Pistols, and this release bears a suitably time-warped, cred-worthy 'pay-no-more-than' sticker. It's always been a pet theory of mine that Cook was a formative influence on Mr. Lydon - just check out his vocal on the theme tune of Pete & Dud's 'Bedazzled' movie; a wonderful and ahead of its time study in complete and utter anomie. And they have a similar look to them, don't they? Indeed, I can almost forgive him for supporting Spurs.

1979 was a joyous time for me - beginning to discover myself a bit more and journeying up to the West End for brilliant, sunshiney weekends. I seem constantly to be drawn back to that time in my mind but I probably wouldn't have really valued Cook's cynicism so much back then. His barbs still hit home today, over thirty years on - check out the riff on MPs expenses, for instance. But listen to the laughter - that sounds different too. Freer, pre-Thatcherite perhaps? Or is that just 'la nostalgie?' Anyway, enjoy...

"Entirely a matter for you" (320 mbps MP3)
- from the mini LP, 'Here comes the judge'.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

How to make a theft-proof Kindle case in a few simple steps...

First you'll need one of these:

You can either nip over here and pick one up for £111 (free delivery) or you can wait like I did and get one as an early birthday present/late inheritence from a deceased relative... or should that be a deceased inheritence from a late aunt? Either way, once you've got one, you'll need some of this 'very useful stuff': of these (or similar):

...and one of these:

Now, making sure you've disabled the safety catch and that you're holding the blade *away* from your body, take the Stanley knife to the crease of the inside of the book like so:

Having completely removed the soft centre of the book leaving only the hard exterior shell, apply two strips from the same roll of the hook and loop tape like so:

Now cut two slightly smaller strips from the other roll of hook and loop tape and apply them to the back (that's the side without the screen for those of you who are new to your Kindle) of the reading device like so, being careful not to obscure the rather nifty little speakers at the top:

Now all that's left is for you to mount the Kindle onto the inside back of the gutted book and you have your very own durable and lightweight protective case for the princely sum of £1 (plus one secondhand hardback book):

And just in case you don't believe me, here's one in action - and yes, before you all write in, I know there's nothing on the screen. I just happen to be a very big fan of blank verse:

Of course, you might not like the sight of frayed paper everytime you open up your Kindle reader, but fear not! The electrician's tape is never far from hand here at Swipe Towers. Indeed, we dread the day he comes 'round asking for it back. In the meantime, it's just the johnny for tidying up the inner spine:

Of course, I can't swear for certain that it's theft proof. But I'd think the odds are fairly slender on something like this being whipped from your tote bag:

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Coe fury at fresh Olympic cuts...

Coe: "..I *hate* Sebastian Coe..."

Lord Coe has publicly blasted the Coalition's austerity programme saying it will ruin the 2012 Olympics and make Britain the laughing stock of the world. In an astonishing outburst the Tory peer spoke of gathering anger within the organising committee at the cuts they're being forced to make ahead of the prestigious games set to take place in London next year.

'I'm fecking livid!' yelled the former middle distance running legend who has played such a prominent role in bringing the games to the capital. 'Some of these money saving measures are simply ridiculous. It's bad enough that we've had to compromise on the stadium - the current meccano and Tupperware structure is a mere shadow of the wonderful arena we had planned. But now the events themselves are going to be compromised and it makes me want to puke. Cuts?? Schmuts!!'

The efficiency measures being considered look set to dramatically affect the global spectacle of sport. Despite an offer from London Mayor to loan out some of his famous 'Boris bikes' the cycling is set to be one of the worst hit events. 'We've got a lovely velodrome and yet the spectators will have to sit and watch competitors ambling past on unicycles. I don't know why they don't give them all comedy trousers to throw water down and oversized shoes, it'll be enough like an effing circus already, already!' Cried a clearly distraught Coe in between sticking pins into an effigy of his former competitor Steve Ovett.

Ovett: "I *hate* Sebastian Coe!"

The economy measures will be evident from the opening ceremony onwards. The Olympic torch design was put out to tender some time ago and the winning submission by a Chinese company was by far the cheapest and can also double as a screwdriver and general purpose DIY kit and rawplug holder. The eternal Olympic flame will only be lit at weekends and on alternate weekday evenings, although it is hoped that, with enough support from sponsors, this may be extended depending upon how many 50p pieces to feed the meter have been donated in the run up to the games. Other areas affected include Three day eventing which will also suffer with organisers left to ponder how on earth they're going to squeeze the highly popular horse trials into a day and a half, never mind dispose of all the pony droppings.

The 2012 Olympic torch: "I *hate* Sebastian Coe too!"

But it's the proposed cutbacks in the blue riband track and field events that will cause most alarm for sports fans. In order to reduce wear and tear on the track, the 200 metres will become the 100 metres, the 400 metres will become the 200 metres, the 10,000 metres will become the 5,000 metres and the Marathon will become the Snickers. Track events will suffer similarly as the hop, skip and jump reverts to being simply the hop and skip, although optimists suggest that this may significantly enhance British hopes of gold in the event. Elsewhere, planners are considering combining events in order to make funds stretch further which could lead to bizarre outcomes such as Ussain Bolt taking on the Ghana hockey team in the women's shot put final or England winning the football.

There are further concerns that the Paralympics will be even further compromised than the able bodied events. It has already been suggested that the events featuring blind competitors be held at night, in the dark in a desperate attempt to meet the Games' much-heralded green agenda. There are however concerns that the parallel games will be adversely affected by controversial and stringent government quotas aimed at reducing the numbers of incapacity benefit claimants. This could mean many wheelchair users are simply unable to afford to compete. The Department for Work & Pensions has however denied any political motivation behind the move saying, 'look, if these people are fit enough to take part in a highly competitive global sports event, they're Bally well fit enough to work. Arbeit macht frei!!! Schnell!! Schnell!! Schnell!!!'

Wheelchair Basketball ladies: "..I like him..."

The London Olympics commence in summer 2012.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, 8 April 2011

Lib-Dems force through last minute AV vote change...

Panicked Yes Vote campaigners in the forthcoming Additional Vote referendum have successfully engineered a last minute change to the rules of the contest in a desperate attempt to secure electoral reform despite growing public indifference to their cause. A jubilant Nick Clegg announced that he'd sneakily managed to add a new paragraph and some additional boxes to the master copy of the ballot paper when David Cameron had briefly left the keys to the Cabinet xerox machine unattended.

The new voting papers will now read as follows;

Do you want Parliament to be elected using the Additional Vote system?




Probably Yes

Oh, go on then - Yes dammit!

Please rate your response in order of preference by giving each box a number from 1 to 4, 4 being the option you most agree with, 1 the lowest. Your ballot paper may be recorded for training purposes.

A tearstained Clegg, fresh from a lengthy Stephen Sondheim session said, "this is a marvellous moment for totalitarianism - I mean democracy. This change to the rules will be a big step towards the kind of voting system we've long argued for and will mean that future elections will no longer be decided by a few swing voters in some shithole in the east midlands. No, in future, the second and third preferences of a handful of nazi sympathisers and fruitarians against the bomb will make all the difference - and this has to be good news for us Liberal Democrats. With this reform, we'll be able to look forward to a Lib-Dem/Tory coalition in perpetuity - I'm delighted. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and set fire to a Reichstag building before settling down for the evening with a Susan Boyle CD and a box of, they're for the *tears* silly!"

But there has been some disquiet among Lib Dem backbenchers that even this electoral shillyshallying will not be enough to spare the party from the wrath of voters angry at having seen their anti-tory votes for the party helping to secure a Conservative-led administration. "I still think things could be tricky for us" said Simon Hughes from the depths of a rather cumbersome tree costume on Clapham Common. "I 've had letters from some of my constituents which have been quite alarming in tone, and that's even after I've removed the razor blades. Several of them have mentioned a new kind of tactical voting in which people will vote for any party ahead of us. Not only is this very spiteful but it could also mean that cranky extremist parties could experience huge surges in popularity - and surely that's *our* job. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must dash. There's a rather hateful Airdale approaching and I can't go home reeking of piss again or the Missus will think I've been out on the lash all day with Chas Kennedy again..."

In an unrelated development, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been arrested and charged with tearing the legs off a live pitbull terrier. In a statement, Hunt defended himself, saying "It just looked at me sort of funny, see..."

The case continues...

Download/listen to Bobcast #72

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 7 April 2011

That Nick Clegg New Stitesman Interview in full!...

Clegg: " started it, no we didn't...yes you did you invaded Poland!"

Poor old Nick Clegg. The deputy prime minister has exposed his vulnerable side in an interview in which he says he regularly cries to music like a lickle gurl, his children wonder why students are being so hard on him, and the only time he played tennis with David Cameron he lost, but only, he claims, because the Conservative leader had tied his legs together and super-glued his racquet to a nearby public convenience, forcing the Deputy Prime Minister to hop pointlessly about the court and play with a cupped hand while his so-called Coalition partner yelled out 'hard cheese' every time he scored a point at the expense of the hapless Liberal Democrat leader.

"I'm a human being, I'm not a total shitbag – I've got some feelings," Nick Clegg tells Jemima Khan in a revealing interview in the latest edition of the New Stitesman. "The curious thing is that the more you become a subject of admiration or loathing, the distance seems to open up between who you really are and the portrayals that people impose on you … I increasingly see these images of me, cardboard cutouts that get ever more outlandish. They make me look like some ghastly caricature of a fat, toffy-nosed oaf - the sort you can imagine being tied up in a sack with chicken wire and kicked about the quadrant at Eton for not having toasted a crumpet crispily enough or some equally trivial fagging faux-pas. No, hang on - I think I'm getting mixed up with the cardboard cut-outs of Cameron. Dashed difficult to tell really - well, mine are usually on fire and it gets dashed difficult to see through the billowing smoke sometimes, to be honest."

At home in the evenings, Clegg likes to read novels while dressed up as his idol Judy Garland - "what a dame! and so *tragic*! - and says that he cries regularly to her music, although this is not, strictly speaking, breaking news: Clegg did make similar remarks in an interview with Radio 4 last year before breaking into an outrageously off-key rendition of 'Thar's no buzznezz like show buzznezz' in an outrageous Ulster accent before being reminded that this was Ethel Merman, not Garland's signature tune. He was later revealed to have consumed three bottles of neat gin and had to be forcibly separated from his feather boa and have the streaks of teary mascara removed from his cheeks with an industrial sander.

Talking about his family, he tells Khan: "What I am doing in my work impacts on them emotionally, because my nine-year-old is starting to sense things and I'm having to explain things. Like why all their friends from the park are being shunted across to the outskirts of London because we've capped the amount of housing benefit their parents can claim so they've had to move somewhere shitty they can afford to live, like Hillingdon or somewhere ghastly like that. Or he asks: 'Why are the students angry with you, Papa?' - obviously he got *my* brains and not his mother's! I just tell him, be grateful that your father can afford to shell out the £9 grand a year it'll cost to get you through Oxbridge, you brainless little oik! Now, get back to your sums before I take my belt off to you!"

Clegg insists that his relationship with David Cameron – whom he calls "Davina" – is not particularly close. "We don't regard each other as mates and actually I don't think it would be a particularly healthy thing if we tried to become personal mates - taking our clothes off and wrestling in front of a roaring fire then going off to look at photos of bodybuilders with the soundtrack of Cabaret playing in the background. No, we should definitely stop doing that..." When Khan mentions talk that the two men play tennis together naked, Clegg squirms. "No, no – well, er, I think we've played one game of tennis. Of course we meet from time to time but it's always basically to talk about what we're doing in government." Who won? "Ah no, that's a state secret," Clegg jokes, not particularly funnily. (Cameron won, Khan reveals. And Clegg's racquet is still clinging like a limpet to those public conveniences since you ask.)

Khan also asks Clegg what he thinks about News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, being a regular guest at David Camerons' dinner parties. "I don't know anything about Oxfordshire dinner parties. I'm assuming that they weren't sitting there talking about News International issues," says Clegg. "Indeed, if I know David, he'd have been trying to get her to supply some more Page 3 shoot contact sheets for him to bribe wayward backbenchers with. All perfectly legal and above board, I can assure you!"

Clegg also signals a changed identity for the Lib Dems. He said: "I don't even pretend we can occupy the Lib Dem holier-than-thou, hands-entirely-clean-and-entirely-empty-type stance that we've been bullshitting all those silly sods who voted for precisely that all these years with," Clegg says. "No, we are getting our hands dirty, and inevitably and totally understandably we are being accused of being just like any other politicians - which is a bit rich if you think about it, because most other parties do in fact stick to at least one or two of their election pledges when they get into power. So we've decided to cut the crap and not be ashamed of our incredible lurch to the right. We're going to go the whole hog next, just you watch. We'll have really smart uniforms made up amd a fancy sort of squared off helicopter blade logo that you can wear on an arm patch and lots of flags and book burnings - well, the students won't be able to afford them anyway, and it'll keep the OAPs warm when we axe their winter fuel allowance...might even have to start throwing afew of them on at this rate. Once we've annexed the Sudetanland and demilitarized the Ruhr it'll be no sleep 'til Moscow! There'll be an annual rally somewhere really exciting like...oh, I dunno - yes, that's it - Nuremburg! See all this democracy stuff is like *so* yesterday's politics. If you hadn't already figured that out when the party with the third largest share of the votes decided who should form the government, then you must be as thick as my little ...erm, whatever his name is. You know, the kid we were just talking about. know..offspring."

On the manifesto pledge not to increase tuition fees, he insists that it was not one of his main manifesto priorities: "I didn't even spend that much time campaigning on tuition fees. I was already working on our new name - National Socialists..., even more ridiculous than Liberal; Democrats, isn't it! And what about my new slogan - Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer! Great, isn't it?? *Rauss!* *Rauss!" Look, I can even do the funny walk..."

Clegg has had trouble with interviews in magazines before. In 2008 he told Piers Morgan in GQ that he had slept with "no more than 30" women at any one time, a remark that sparked a thousand dyspeptic headlines - not to mention a considerable amount of chaffing down below....


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Kate Bush to follow Director's Cut with album of duets...

Bush: "Still traumatised by swan incident..."

Kate Bush fans still revelling in the news of a new album of reworked classics from the diminutive pop genius have a further treat in store. Kate's website has just revealed that she'll be releasing another album hot on its heels; this time a collection of her old songs sung with an unlikely assortment of guest artistes. The most headline grabbing of these has to be the new version of 'Don't give up', the poignant tribute to those affected by mass unemployment she originally recorded with Peter Gabriel in the 1980s.

Never an artist to shy away from controversy, there will nevertheless be many an eyebrow raised by the prospect of the eccentric pop diva performing a heartrending song about the travails of the jobless with the current Business Secretary, Vince Cable. "I know a lot of people will be wondering what a divine chanteuse like Kate is doing warbling away about the homeless with a slimy Tory troll like me, but if they think that's bad, they've obviously not heard her version of 'The man with the child in his eyes' with Michael Gove", said a clearly exuberant, and possibly medicated Cable. "It's really clever of Kate to turn the song into a sly kind of gay anthem with a really astonishing performance from Michael. How a repressed, former public schoolboy like the Education Secretary is able to draw a deeply moving portrait in song of a man in love with another, younger chap I'll never know. He takes to a sequinned frock like a duck to water too - or should that be a ducky?' smirked the Twickenham MP whilst tucking heartily into a generous carving of braised swan.

Cable: "Day -oh..."

'Obviously, unlike many of my cabinet colleagues, I have a bit of previous show business experience to back me up. Last Christmas I appeared on a celebrity dance show and I've always seen myself as being as much a song and dance man as an expert on macro-economics policy and how to kick start the UK economy by depriving as many people as possible of work and reducing their disposable incomes. Why, after a hard day dismantling the welfare state and inflicting a package of unprecedentedly savage cuts that will disproportionately disadvantage the poor, the sick and those least able to defend themselves and set the cause of progressive politics back several generations, I like nothing better than to dress up as Leni Riefenstahl and belt out a few Harry Bellafonte numbers washed down with several crates of Mackesons. say day mer say day me say day-oh....daylight come and me want come home..."

Gove: "Who? EMA..."

Other treats in store for the public include a new version of 'Them Heavy People' featuring tory grandee and gourmandising heavyweight Nicholas Soames. "We were hoping to use Cyril Smith, but sadly he passed away while I was still working on the backing track - it can take me decades just to get the drum sound right..." said a clearly distraught Kate. "Mind you, his rotting Liberal corpse could probably have held a tune better than old fatty Soames, anyday..." However, reports suggest that the sessions for the new LP didn't go completely smoothly. "Yes, Kate had a few problems when she was recording a new version of 'Wuthering Heights' with Nick Clegg", a studio technician was able to tell us. "Firstly he insisted on playing the part of Cathy, even though, to all intents and purposes, he's a man and the vocal part is well outside his range. Then he insisted on Kate incorporating a lengthy coda to the song which would give him a platform to spout off about why we should adopt the additional vote for several minutes over a really over the top prog rock guitar solo. When Kate refused, he threatened to leave and go and form a government with Stevie Nicks instead. It was terrible. Completely over the top and what's more, you'll never get strong, single party government again. Kate said it's a wonder she was able to stay in the same room as him without stamping his nuts off - although, I've heard that this is a common reaction from people who've spent any serious amount of time with the man..."

Siffre: "Get back to ruining the country you Tory scumbags..."

But the new album has not been greeted with universal pleasure. Former pop star Labi Siffre was one of a large number of musicians to express incredulity at members of the Coalition taking time out from their parliamentary business to record with an airy-voiced songstress. "I know they've used the extreme economic circumstances to do pretty much as they damn well please regardless of any democratic mandate, but this is a step too far," opined the smooth-voiced seventies star. "Why can't they leave the showbiz alone for a minute and get on with bringing the country to its knees ??"

Hear hear!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Bobcast #71...

...a Japanese pop special with your new hostess, the plasticiously wonderful Ms. Honor Garter.

Listen to/download Bobcast #71 here...