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Wednesday 19 February 2020

Coronanation St (episode 3,567)

Title music: Baaaa ba ba baba ba (bubbaba) Baaaaaa ba ba baba ba (bubba ba) Baaaa baba baaaaaaa bubba bubba (bubabba) Ba ba.....

Interior, hospital bedroom. Sho-narr lies in a semi-comatose state. She is self-isolating.

Cut to...

The factreh. Nick and Sah-ruh Lou are intently studying the work rota:
Nick: and what about Izzy?
Sah-ruh Lou: self-isolating. With Jake obvs.
Nick; And what about Kirk?
Sah-ruh-Lou: Self-isolating. With Beth obvs.
Nick: Sally? 
Sah-ruh-Lou: Self-isolating. With Tim, Abi and Faye. They've had it really bad. how on *earth* are we going to get all these high quality undergarments produced in time to fulfill this massive order in time?
Sar-ruh-Lou: well, we could try sub-contractimg to the Chinese? That way we could lay half the existing work force off and force the others into zero hours contracts to do the packing and distribution as and when we needed them...?
Nick: Nice idea sis, only China's in total lockdown...
Both: mm, self-isolating....

Cut to...

Gemm-urr and Chesney. They are surrounded by cots, baby grows and multi-storey carrycots. 

Gemm-urr (through a hale of bronchial fluids): urrrrrrrrgh, this piggin coff Ches. I can't piggin stand it. It's all I can do to keep the worst of it off the quintuplets. The last fing we we want is them going down wiv it.
Chesney (after a prolonged, ginnel rattling sneeze) Hang on Gemm-urr - quads, you mean quads. We've only got the four...haven't we??
Gemm-urr: nooooooo, aw Ches  I'm *sooooooooo* sorry. I must've popped another one out in the night. What are we gonna doooooooo Ches?? This will like *to-ally* *roòo-in* the Fresh-cos Four campaign...
Both (gurning awkwardly at one another): *To-ally* !!

Cut to...

Dev's shop. Dev is intently studying the work rota with Evelyn.
Evelyn: So it's a good thing some of us are built of heartier stock I say otherwise the whole place'd come to a standstill...
Dev (frantically rubbing at his temples and inadvertently smearing some of his eyeliner) yes, yes, I know Evelyn, I know and thank you, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming in, but, but what am i going to do about my other outlets? I have both Chesney *and* Gemm-urr self-isolating at home with the sextuplets... I can I...
Evelyn: hang on  hang on, slow down a mo...I thought Gemm-urr and Chesney just had the 5 kids? She's never gone and popped another one out has she? The daft mare. Oh well, can't be helped I suppose. So much for keeping the underclass in check by means of enforced contraception's all I'll say. I mean, I'd love to be able to offer more support but I've got Tyrone and Fizz self-isolating at home with Ruby and Jade's taken their Hope off to self-immolate by the Red Rec....*always* has to go one better that girl. They should never let that one near a box of Swan Vestss ever again if you ask me...but nobody ever does...
Dev, with his elbow on the counter, rests his chin on his palm and starts sobbing gently.

Cut to the Rovers Return. Johnny and Jenny are behind the bar of an otherwise empty pub.

Jenny: well I say we should give it another half an hour. You never know...
Johnny (moving his tea towel from one arm to the other for what feels like the millionth time...): ack, I cant see the point love. We've got Steve and Tracy self isolating and their Amy and his Emma self-isolating together at their new flat. Peter and our Carla are self-isolating in a spare room off Roy's hallway while he and his newfound goth niece self-isolate in the rest of the flat. Daniel and the baby are self-isolating with Bethany, much to Beth's chagrin. There'll be hell to pay if that Bethany so much as sneezes near the young un after that daft ha'pponorth forget to get the poor thing its MMR. Brian and Cathy are self-isolating in the back of the cabin and Jeff's taken self-isolating to ridiculous extremes by boarding up the house and locking Yasmeen in one of his comedy magic routine disappearing boxes just for good measure. Apart from him, I think it's only Ken Barlow and Th'Rita Fairclough who've actually manage to self-isolate themselves on their own. 
Jenny: oh well, as they'll not be needed, I suppose I'd better stick these hotpots in the freezer then....

End theme: Baaaaaaaa ba ba baba baaa...

Tuesday 18 February 2020


The sharp trill of a trim phone disturbs the Caribbean calm.

"Where are you my lovely boy?"
"Mustique - and no, don't even *think* about asking to reverse the charges. I'm still crowdfunding the last phone bill after you forgot to check that the receiver was back in properly. 2 hours 46 minutes and 53 seconds from Zurich to Los Angeles. And you wonder why I've dropped you on friends and family. Any more of this and I'll have to get the zoot suits from the Serious Moodswings tour out of hock and up on eBay. Have you seen how much the fakes are going for by the way?"
"Ersatz Zoot suits, schmoot suits, Bob my lovely boy do I have a zinger for you? Oddballs? Veirdos is it? A vord to the vise meine kleine glamerstuckeroll - get your kvetls down to Downing Street. Could be just the boost your career I always say - it's die-veeeer-see-fye or die in this game....and don't say I never do anything for you....'vieders...leders…" and with that he's hung up.

Amazing how short the phone calls are when he's paying. Still, nice to hear from the old scrote and I suppose I should be grateful that he's still on hand occasionally to lend me career advice, especially in these dark days. Better than borrowing a stiff talking to from him, that's fo sho. I'm still mulling over Ziggy's suggestion as I catch up on goings on back in Blighty - gawd bless old Auntie Beeb by the way. Honestly, I wouldn't have a clue what was going on in the world without her. Nowadays, you just don't know what to believe do you? Faux this, fake that...artificial the other. It's like one ginormous digital Alice in Wonderland rabbithole of lies, deception and deceit - well, at least that's what they reckon on Newsround. That John Craven wears it well though, doesn't he? Doesn't look a day over 21.

Quietly perusing my Gleaner or Star in the hammock over aperitifs, I finally twig what Ziggy has been on about. Seems there's been a bit of a kerfuffle back home over just such 'weirdos and oddballs' as Ziggy was referring to. Blimey, this bloke sounds like me around 1974:

One way to get around the problems of unplanned pregnancies creating a permanent underclass would be to legally enforce universal uptake of long-term contraception at the onset of puberty. Vaccination laws give it a precedent, I would argue.

Still, a twelve tube a day Bostik habit can do that to a man - and this Sabisky looks as if he's had half of Wickes' adhesives shelf up his hooter. He also looks distinctly eastern European, and with a name like that I'd be very surprised if he managed to get the Home Office app to confirm his settled status. Bloody foreigners. Reminds me of the shabby blond bit of blubber I met down by the beach the other day - Christ knows how he managed to cop off with that pert little thing. Looked like he'd been dragged through a hedge backwards. I dread to think what he looks like with his clothes on. We got chatting about our family histories, what with him being somewhat a fan of militant Protestant Unionism, as I was pleasantly surprised to discover. He was telling me how he was born in New York and of Turkish descent but had been very pro-Leave in the referendum. I told him, no offence, that he was a daft cunt and he'd have no one but himself to blame when he found himself detained in an electrified pen outside Newhaven with 15,000 of his blood relatives for company. For a blobby geezer he had a fairly proficient left hook.

But I digress. This 'super-forecaster' is also clearly deranged himself if he thinks the vaccination programme is a good precedent for anything. You've got more chance of getting one of those Mum's taking her fag out of her mouth whilst she's eating than there is of her kids getting their MMR vaccinations. 'That's it love, you stock up on those 'special vitamins' the nice lady who's telling you not to use the vaccine is selling you, and have another Lambert & Butler....' Again, it's the smoke and mirrors of the dark web  isn't it? I blame Kraftwerk myself.

Our friend Sabisky is on even dodgier ground when it comes to matters of race. I seem to recall getting in a similar pickle outside Victoria Station. Dressed like a cross between Albert Speer and Rita Fairclough, mouthing off incoherently and getting caught in mid-fascist salute was enough to get you on the cover of the NME back then. But that was a more forgiving age. You could have a healthy interest in the badge hierarchies of the Hitler Youth Movement without everyone immediately jumping to the conclusion that you were a raving, eugenics-spouting white supremacist on covert manoeuvres for the National Front. Or a nonce for that matter. But nowadays people just feel they can say anything, no matter how inflammatory, and they'll immediately become a social pariah, get blanket radio play bans and the ideological equivalent of one of those parental advisory stickers plastered on their forehead for time-immemorial. Bloody hell, I'd have *killed* for publicity like that back in the day! But I try and keep out of the immigration debate in the main now. Well, it's hard enough smuggling Negrita back through border control as it is without pouring further fuel on the flames of race relations - and she was born in Swindon.

And just as I'm about to roll off the hammock into the still, cool waters for one last moonlit swim, the breaking news comes through that our super-caster has done the decent thing, fallen on his sword and resigned. Best thing all round I say. I suppose being a super-forecaster, he probably saw it coming anyway. No, I leave the politics to the politicians nowadays. I'm minded of something Bryan Ferry once said to me as we careened elegantly around the electric blue illuminated dance floor at Tokyo Joe's, back when we could do no wrong and every sonic adventure sounded like a gilt-rimmed invitation to a fabulous future..
"When wor came for wor Slade, wor did nuthn cos wor wasnae in Slade, like. When wor came for Sailor, wor did nuthn cos wor wasnae in Sailor - though wor once had wor anchor tattooed on wor cheek down wor docks for a laugh. Aye, it was canny.... When wor came for Gary Glitter, wor did nuthn ...although, to be fair, wor had a point wi' that one. When wor came for me, wor had no one left, though but..."

That must have been one ridiculously threadbare edition of Cheggars Plays Pop, I muse as another foaming 'buie breezer guzzles down into my yard of ale glass. And then, the mildly amusing thought that maybe Ziggy might be right after all...and that now, of course, there's a vacancy...

Thursday 27 April 2017

Hello folks! Hope everyone's happy and well and getting in the Bank Holiday mood (if you're in the UK that is...the rest of you will just have to make do with a weekend I'm afraid...) I just wanted everyone to marvel at the astonishing dexterity shown here by your aged and doddery humble scribe in customizing the Bandcamp page. After an extensive and expensive course in digital design principles....erm....oh alright, copying and pasting some code that the kind people on the interweb let you make on their site... I've completely transformed it! Ooh yes, by golly and, as the young people no doubt say when not too completely delapidated by their binge drinking, it rocks! Marvel! as clicking on the word 'Twitter' takes you straight to my Twitter account . Be amazed! as a press of the same digit on the mouse whilst hovering over the word 'Facebook' takes you to my Facebook page, swoon as....OK, I know, you've got the picture. Anyway, please do check it out and let me know if/when the links don't actually work...oh, and while you're there..... ;)

Saturday 15 April 2017

Swipe Meltdown Festival - the full list of events (EXCLUSIVE!!!)

One of the nicest aspects of being a National Treasure, is that one is often asked to participate in events that would otherwise be closed to one as an ordinary member of the public. This is especially nice when, like me, you're a National Treasure who is known only to a small handful of loyal (and quite probably deranged and tweet happy) followers. My appearance at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, for instance, barely warranted a mention in most of the national media - which would have been a very different matter, I can tell you, had I not awoken from a Bostik induced 'interlude' just long enough to take evasive action and steer the chopper away from Buckingham Palace. No Christmas card from the Craigs for another year is a *small* price to pay compared with the burden that might have been placed on the Civil List. Believe me, Gary Numan's *welcome* to the Commonwealth gig.

But I digress. So, you'll imagine my surprise and delight, I'm sure, when I received a missive from the bods over at the South Bank Centre asking me if I'd be kind enough to curate next year's Meltdown Festival for them. It's a good job they posted the invitation rather than cold calling as my initial reaction was to tell them to pee off and find someone else to raise the profile of mental health issues in the UK. I have enough trouble keeping my own bonce off the ceiling as a result of several decades of adhesive blowback, never mind trying to stop other people having a bit of a wobbler. When Generation Snowflake have spent three months adhered to the control room of Conny Plank's Kling Klang studio with not so much as a stale frankfurter to keep body and soul together, *then* they can complain.

Anyway, and fortunately, I eventually googled it all on the interweb and found out that it was actually quite a cool thing to be involved with. I imagine many of you were as oblivious as me, so basically the gist of Meltdown is that each year they invite increasingly obscure and niche artistes to put together a month long series of cultural events around the South Bank Centre that no one goes to and, obviously, by the law of averages, someday it was bound to be my turn - especially as Larry Grayson had apparently not been contactable...and so on and so forth.

So what else could I say but, "gear whack - stick the corporate contactless in me willing mitt and you'll have a bill they'll still be purring over by the time Sacha Distell starts his Meltdown in 2019" - well, assuming they let him in. So, without further ado, here's the full programme:

Sir Harrison Birtwistle 

Harry and I go back years. In fact, it was in Paris, many years ago, that Harry said something that really opened up the idea for me of doing something musical for a living. "Music is like knitting, Kenneth...", he told me - often confusing me with the young Kenneth Connor who, it would appear, was one of the few aspects of modern popular culture he was in any way acquainted with - the other being Jim Bowen's Bullseye, which he would watch avidly, crying all the way through each show before excusing himself and spending an inordinately long time in the lavatory, quietly sobbing. And that was it. "Music is like knitting, Kenneth..." and then silence as he went back to his work, transcribing a particularly radical and atonal new cardigan.

For my Meltdown, Harry will be conducting a small chamber ensemble through a new set of specially commissioned works based on the songs of Peters & Lee.

Eno at the ENO

I'm surprised that no one else has thought of this one. But now, finally, the world will get to hear the collaboration they've been waiting centuries for. Haven't we all wondered what the libretto of HMS Pinnafore would sound like looped and put through a lengthy chain of delays, reverbs, oscillators and other various effects, then slowed down by a quarter and fed back on itself?? Well, wait no longer. I certainly can't!

Lorry Anderson at the Royal Festival Hall

I'm really quite excited about this one too. What better way to communicate the horrors of modern global migration than a performance piece centred around Laurie Anderson spending a whole month creating 'an artistic environment' in an 80 foot long Norbert Dentressangle articulated lorry packed with displaced families from sub-Saharan Africa and parked in the foyer of the RFH? OK, I know, there must be millions. But Laurie couldn't come up with a better pun than that in the brief time we had on Skype to discuss the piece and then had to rush off as she remembered she'd left a timbale in the microwave.

The Kenneths

No idea what this up-and-coming rabble of riotous street punk pranksters actually sound like, but with a name like that, they've got to be good haven't they? Haven't they?

Anyway, enjoy the shows. And a massive thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered 'Skyhorse' - you should get your copies to download early on Monday morning, assuming I can remember to press the 'release' button...

LUV on y'all,

Bob x

Tuesday 14 February 2017


What happened to the future?
It used to sound so good.
The one we ended up with...
Nicht so schon...

I'll be releasing my new LP, "Skyhorse" exclusively on Bandcamp. You'll be able to stream and/or download the whole LP on my 52nd birthday, April 17th 2017. It's available to pre-order now and there will be a preview track up for you to sample (hopefully) within the next couple of weeks.

Track-listing is as follows:

I'm very happy with it.

Friday 13 January 2017

This is it boys...

Morning Swipelings,

Hope the trudge through the hardest part of the year isn't getting you all down up there in the northern hemisphere. Obviously here in the Bahamas, it's all sunshine, palm tress and free pina coladas summoned up with the click of a duty free castanet from the waiters at the 'all-in' holiday resort next door to my humble German-engineered beach shack. The world of Trump, Putin, Brexit and the apparent resumption of hostilities in the war between everybody reasonably well known and the grim reaper* seems light years away. Indeed, if it wasn't for Negrita and her constant ejaculations of disgust at the TMS on the long wave, you wouldn't believe you were even in century 21. My goodness, loves the cricket does that one. She's even bought some pads along. And a box. Incredible...

But enough with the dull cares of the huddled masses. What brings us to the lovely Bahamas besides the obvious incentives of massive tax avoidance opportunities and freedom from extradition?** Well, truth is, I'm enjoying a real surge of mid-late career creative energy and where better to start committing to tape a dystpoian vision of a cold, wartorn, dysfunctional Europe than on the perfect white sands of the Caribbean? Plus it's obvioulsy saving me a packet on the old tax into the bargain. And you can never be 100% sure that those photoshopped images of Putin in a Grayson Perry outfit *won't* get traced back to your own personal computer, regardless of what Ian Hislop might say, now can you?

Anyway, enough of the context. What about the content? Well, we're certainly on  a bit of a roll. Armed with a collection of Eno-generated loops, I've been assembling core tracks on (currently) about 9 new pieces. These range from a bizarre, scarifying and as-yet-untitled 80s style dance number with collosal compression on the snare and snarling synth brass riffs to a couple of reflective ambient instrumentals. Newest off the production line is a sombre Vangelis style epic with a disconcerting synth lead on it that is somewhere between a saxophone and an air raid siren. It's painting mental images for me of the ruins of a bombed out city and that I think will probably be the environment in which the lyrics unfold - assuming I can write any. I'm thinking 'Matter of Life and Death' meets 'Casablanca' re-staged on the bombsite where they plan to build the Burgundy Lido. If that makes any sense. These are suitable soundscape, anyway, over which to contemplate the horrible futures that seem to be hovering just a short way over the horizon for most of us.

Still, nil desperandum and all that. All I can see over the immediate horizon is a smart young chappette in a smart white uniform and bearing a silver salvour crammed with peachy blasts of ice-cold alcopop so, if you'll excuse me...

"Gladstone, I presume..."

L.U.V. on y'all,

Bob xx

*RIP dear old Graham Taylor.

**Thanks Cliff!!!

Friday 6 January 2017


Greetings Swipelings...

Well, what a shower of unholy shit that was. 2017, I mean. Blimey, what a cacktastrophe of a year. Easier to name who didn't die than those we very sadly lost. So many luminaries - Daniels, Dickman, Corbett. Rossi, Di Canio, Peroni, that one whose Dad looks the spit of Iggy Pop (pretty much the whole Italian backline by reckoning), Martin, Michael, Carrie, Fischer, Dogger Bank, German Bight (those poor sailors are in for one feck of a year what with half the shipping forecast suddenly popping its clogs). The list is almost endless even without all the poor sods in Aleppo. And then, to top it all, Bert Kwouk goes and snuffs it. I spent half the year checking my own pulse just to make sure I was still alive - and even that was nip and tuck some days, especially during a Copydex flashback. So, for small blessings, we are thankful.

And then, of course, there was the political situation. One minute I'm sunning myself on some exotic shore with various scantily clad economic migrants of no fixed gender persuasion larding on the factor 50, casually swilling down a breezer or two, the next I find I'm living in a country doing its damnedest to turn the clock back to 1973. Oh sure, the music and the flares were great. And the three day weeks, casual sexism and who can forget the blackouts. Jesus, I had a fair few of those. Boy, I could really knock the stuff down back then. Anyway, that's the last time I holiday in Albania, that's for sure. And then there was Brexit. Crisis on a bike, what have you silly sods gone and done? I mean, I was hardly the biggest fan - overwrought, top down, authoritarian, inflexible, rarely seeming even to be cognisant of the UK's existence let alone its interests and increasingly dominated by neo-fascist nations from the former soviet bloc. But as song contests go, Eurovision was a beacon of hope for many and its passing will surely leave an incredible void in the lives of many. 

Well, it's done now. And we've got Trump hem...look forward to as well. Dark days indeed. But, hey ho, where there's a will there's a the saying goes, 'what doesn't kill you probably leaves you stuck to the ironing board covered in someone else's vomit until the emergency services can get to you...' Onwards and upwards. It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to get to Aberystwith....and countless other meaningless platitudes that will serve no purpose whatsoever when pitted against the forces of inhuman corporatism and the neo-liberal apocalypse.

Still, on the plus side...

After a year in the creative doldrums, I'm happy to report that I'm back at work again on a new Long Player. Eno's been popping over with his synthesizer-in-a-knapsack. I don't know where he picks these things up. Last time I went to Curry's, I couldn't even find a hair straightener. Anyway, he's really been on fine form and in between ginger snaps and Peter Cook impersonations he's been challenging me to try to recapture the dizzy heights of our late 1970s oeuvre (I'm never sure how you spell that, less still what it actually means...) I must admit that I was initially reluctant to resume our partnership as I was finding the principle of leaving everything to chance was getting a bit tiresome. I mean, yes, using the oblique strategies cards can open you up to leftfield notions and take a piece in unexpected directions. I don't know, maybe it was just me or rotten luck, but for whatever reason, I just seemed always to end up getting Mr Bun the Baker. And there's only so much you can do with a bag of self-raising flour, a bit of bicarb and a few currants. Well, at least in an experimental electronic music sense.

Right, that's enough waffling from me. Let's get this party started. Here, in the unlikely event that you haven't already played it to death, is a brief preview of the unfettered joys to follow. That's me on synthesized basso profundo and Eno's doing interesting things with a vocodered hairdryer and a bag of bathing crystals. It's a dazed and battered slice of almost-romanticism in a jaded and cynical world. Think David Niven channeling Rik from Casablanca while his plane is shot down on a daring mission to bomb the Acropolis and hurtles to near certain oblivion somewhere just south of Bruxelles . It's not much, but it will at least give you something to wave your zippo at until the fuel runs out....

L.U.V. on y'all,


Thursday 20 October 2016

RT Farty...

Director Ken Loach has taken aim at Soviet Russian news channel RT, describing its news coverage as “manipulative and deeply political”. "The USSR Russia is a “rotten place for a director - rampant environmental degradation, it's run like a mafia state and its people are dying off. And Syria is not much better, the way they're bombing the shit out of it fair breaks me poor old 'eart, 'Arold”, said the director of British classics such as Cathy Come Home and that one about the Spanish Civil War with Ian Hart in it.

Prominent leftwinger Loach, who is currently promoting his Palme d’Or-winning film about a man’s struggle with the UK film awards system, I, Daniel Radcliffe, in between embarking upon completely unprovoked Albert Steptoe impersonations, said there was a need to “democratise” the organisation many people believe to be little more than a de facto propaganda arm of the Russian leader Vladimir....sorry, I can't even type his name. He brings me out in hives. Or is it chives? Well, something unpleasant and rashy anyway...
“Diversify it," said Loach, "so that different regions can make their own dramas - Ukraine, Chechnya, various parts of the middle east and the bits of Norwegian water they plough through so they can command another few raids on the poor bleedin' children of would'n leave me like this would yer'Arold? Not with me scurvy and me lumbago and me severely compromisin' 'alitosis, would yer narer?? And its notion of news has got to be challenged,” he told Pravda.

“Russia Today is very aware of its role in shaping people’s consciousness; this is the story you should hear about, these are the people worth listening to - i.e., it's making me retch too, just visualising him gallivanting around in the nip, carrying a surface to air missile launcher. It’s manipulative and deeply political. Narer, boil us a pan o' water so's I can soak me bunnions, there's a good lad....”

In response to the comments, an RT spokeswoman said: “Russia Today is independent and adheres to clear published editorial guidelines including on impartiality that have all been agreed by Mr..P...P..., no, sorry, I can't say it either. Just trying to shape the words in my mouth is making me feel nauseous, as if the foul vapors of corruption were trying to strangle my soul and turn me into a witless harpy vocalising the deranged newspeak of a man who'd happily butcher his own children and sell off his people for a few re-runs of The Man From U.N.C.L.E and a Downton Abbey boxed set... Right, that's it, I'm jacking all this in to become a weather girl on Look East. The money and the audience are lousy, but at least I get to choose my own frocks and I'll have at least a shred of self-respect when I go to bed at night..."

Mr. Loach is 80.

Friday 8 July 2016

Euro 2016 semi final - France 2 - Germany 0...

Nohing has changed, everything has changed...

Is it just me or did something cosmically wierd happen at midnight on 1st January 2016? Within a few days we'd lost Lemmy, Bowie, Rickman... Terry Wogan...George Martin... Ronnie Corbett... Victoria Wood....Prince....just a few days ago, poor Caroline Aherne. A pretty shit year for deaths of the great and good, by any standard. Simultaneously, we in the UK have spent the first half of the year bracing ourselves for a possible exit from the European Union and will no doubt spend the rest of the year and beyond, regretting the reality of actually leaving. Isis, NATO troops massing in Poland, Sophie leaving Love Island...can it seriously get any worse? And now, to top it all, the reigning world champions and, in my view, the most entertaining German football side in a long time have been knocked out of Euro 2016 by a French side who barely seemed to get a kick of the ball in the whole 90 minutes. You could forgive any visiting Martians for wondering what kind of a wierd-arsed planet they'd landed on. Something in the water does not compute.

There was something plain wrong right from the start, the BBC for some reason honing in on the seemingly ubiquitous theme of sausages in common German football related epithets in their preview clip. Wierd. That alongside the always disconcerting apparition of Rio Ferdinand's mouth suggested that already things were not all they seemed to be. Stranger still, the panel all fancied France to win. [Gallic shrug] ??? Did they know something we didn't? Off to the anthems, hard not to recall that famous scene in Rick's Bar from Casablanca; the calm majesty of 'Deutcshland uber alles', stately and slightly chilling as ever, followed by 'The Marseillaise' pumped out here on home town soil with almost as much frenzied and slightly hysterical passion as in the film.

The game kicked off and it immediately looked as if we were in for exactly the kind of classic that both teams' form in the rest of the tournament had promised. The game seemed open and end to end, Griezmann carrying on the sort of form that he'd been showing from precisely 2 minutes after my observation during the game against the Republic of Ireland that he was a vastly over-rated and useless waste of space, scoring twice almost no sooner than the words had left my mouth. With further slackness completely in line with my journalistic standing, to-ing and fro-ing about the kitchen to dish up supper (Trompetti pasta with a plain tomato sauce and garlic bread) as I am, I miss the one genuine moment of quality the French produce in the whole 90, only catching the second half of a blazing Griezmann inspired move that involves an entire repertoire of feints, wriggles and gives and goes before the new French talisman shoots low, forcing the first (and only) real save he has to make in open play from Manuel Neuer (James Corden). It's an exciting opening passage and bodes well for the game ahead.

And then the Germans take complete control of the game. For the next 35 minutes, they pass and probe until someone, usually Mesut Ozil (Peter Lorre as Ugate in Casablanca - "aw, Meestah Reeek") slides in an impossibly cleverly angled pass for someone to either cross to no one in particular, scuff a shot in the general direction of a French defender or force a corner. On and on it goes, wave after wave... Ozil ("You're hoiting my oirm") to Draxler (Joey Essex) to Muller (Frank Ifield) to Schweinsteiger (Brendan from Strictly) to Boateng (Duke Ellington)...on and on they pass and move, pass and move, pass and move. The camera cuts to the watching German coach, a progressively drained looking Joachim Low (any male member of Blondie) as yet another exquisite move ends in yet another fumble by Muller or an equally exquisite, well-intentioned and algebraically implausible pass from Ozil ("You despise me, don't you...?")

The half seems destined to peter out ahead of what promises to be a rip-roaring second half of further sustained German domination leading to an equally inevitable German goal, probably in the 77 minute leaving far too little time for a tired and demoralised France to even think about equalising, let alone another 30 minutes of being played off the park in extra time and the sheer formality of losing on penalties, should the need arise. Then, having offered nothing else in the way of attack except for a plodding jog and equally unconvicing punt goalwards from Olivier Giroud (A Young and Dashing Captain Haddock), France somehow contrive to win a corner. It's floated over and seems to have come to nothing. The cannier French supporters at the opposite side of the ground have already begun to make their way towards the bar so as to beat the queues for a casually squirted 3/4 full plastic mug of tepid Stella Artois. But what's this? The referee marches towards Schweinsteiger and is brandishing a yellow card - was it something he said? Dissent? Another of those illegal lifts in the American Smooth? No, he's only gone and given away a penalty. It seems barely credible, but then the Germans have form already in the tournament, Boateng doing his jazz hands in the box had similarly gifted Italy an equaliser from the spot in the quarter final.

Griezmann (who else?) steps up and sends his penalty high and true in the opposite direction to the flailing Neuer. The camera surveys the German support (evidently none of them Arsenal fans) who, having seen their team completely dominate possession with an adventurous and stylish display somehow still go in trailing the French who've mustered barely two attacks. They stare blank and uncomprehending into the crazy chasm of chaos and uncertainty that's casually blown a gaping hole in their 21st century worldview. First Brexit, and now this. How, we telepathically intuit from their shocked and broken collective countenace, could we have been so much in control and now stand to lose everything? Half time: France 1 - Germany 0.

Back to the studio for some reassuring 'don't worry, the Germans always win, usually on penalties'-type banter from Lineker and co. In case that's not enough to soothe our frayed nerves, they re-run the highlights of the 1982 world cup semi final - the terrible beauty of Harold Schaumaker's wrecking ball challenge that left Patrick Battiston a crumpled wreck on the eighteen yard line; a subtle marker of German indomitability. The subtext: don't worry, the Germans always find a way.

The second half opens with a close up on a tragic Mesut Ozil. He's been yellow carded even before the game's had a chance to restart - possibly for carrying transit papers obtained by murdering German couriers in the Free French zone? There will be no way back now, you can see it in Mesut's face and the indignation rising up and visible in his cheeks. We're all sat back expecting Germany to once more click through the gears and regain the astonishingly fluent rhythm they'd established in the first half. But nothing's doing. The French, emboldened now, start to come out of their shells and when they're not giving the Germans stuff to think about themselves, they're good enough at disrupting the teutonic rhythm to introduce a degree of fraughtness to the German side that seemed inconceivable during their dominant period in the first forty minutes.

The Peronis start to kick in now and the horrible prospect of France reaching a tournament without having fired a shot in real anger brings the cumulative Brexit-inspired xenophobia and Little Englander mentality sharply to the surface. The English fans are right - they'd be speaking German if it wasn't for us. It's all a conspiracy, a last ditch effort to keep the fraying fabric of the coalition at the heart of the doomed European project together...Once more unto the breach, dear daschunds in the slips....straining upon the start...the game's afoot... follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry 'God for Merkel, Deutschland, and Saint Gerd!'

As if in reproach for this Ukip-y display, France start to take the upper hand looking dangerous now everytime they break into the German half. Then it all goes Fawlty Towers in the German box. Sybil's on the blower to Audrey asking if she's staunched it yet and thus completely oblivious to the oncoming Pogba. Polly trips over the Major and hands the ball straight back to Pogba who dinks in a harmless looking cross, but Manuel collides with Basil while he's trying to fix a moose head to the cross bar and can only palm the ball right onto the boot of (who else?) Griezmann and before you can say "You started it, no vee didn't, yes you did you invaded Poland" it's 2-0 France. There's still time enough for Germany to make a game of it, but they don't really. They decide to go the whole Arsenal hog and spend far too much time trying to create a perfect opening when they'd be much better advised to lump it in the box and at least get one goal back quickly. Too late, they start creating half chances with the latter approach. But the game was lost just before half time, in another of those wierd and explicable moment of madness that seem to be defining this year.

France versus Portugal in a final on Sunday that surely won't be anything like as fitting a finale as this game promised to be. But then, going on current form it will Portugal 17- France 58 and President Hollande will do a striptease at half time.