Thursday, 10 July 2008

Legacy Spice

I was listening to my Melanie C record whilst driving to work this morning and I got to thinking about the old Checkout Girls (as we affectionately knew them). I’m sure I’ve mentioned Their Legacy before but I haven’t done the full thesis – until now…

I won’t be the first pistorian (pub + historian) to note that The Twatson Five did little or nothing for the women’s movement, indeed one would have to question whether they were even aware of it. But in their defence, I am always the first to say that politics should be kept out of music. Take United Abominations, by Megadeth. A much anticipated disc, featuring much of the speed-gymnastic guitar craft we require from a Dave Mustaine release, but the political overtures aren’t just overtures anymore. This is a blatant anti American government diatribe. I think we are crossing the fine line between Artist and Raving Lunatic, well maybe not Raving Lunatic but Party Bore at the very minimum. Believe me, it gives me no pleasure to speak of The Dave in these tones.

And yes there is a fine line between Artist and Party Bore, imagine Constable coming to one of your Christmas Parties “another fucking landscape? can’t you at least put a horse in it or something?”, “have a look at this one”, “brilliant, that’s just fantastic, somebody get me drink for pete’s sake”. It’s not easy to convey sarcasm in print but I feel it’s worth the effort and if I was being paid for this I might make an effort.

But coming back to The Legacy, no one ever accused the Alcypop Girls of over-politicising their art. That debate went more along the lines of “Is this art?”, “god knows, sounds like shit to me”, “maybe they are the Damien Hirst of music”, “you’re an idiot, I don’t know why I even talk to you”. That was when Carling was a pound a pint on Thursday's at our local and that South African fella proclaimed Wet Wet Wet to be the best band of the last thirty years, he was serious. He never really recovered after the land mine blew up his tank in the Angolan war. On the other hand maybe he was always like that. I could believe it of a South African, he could come out with some outrageous garbage but that’s another story altogether.

Yeeh, no. When I was youngster we’d spend bloody ages trying to convince the ladies to have a drink with us and then try to keep their focus while running back and forth to the bar for more supplies to lower the resistance. It was a hard and gruelling ritual (especially in Yorkshire) and the results were rather sobering on some remorseful mornings, if not downright scary. Today, all that has changed, thanks to the Libatious Girls and their answer to politics – Girl Power.

Girl Power was a godsend. Suddenly groups of girls were invading bars up and down the land and getting hopelessly drunk with no “encouragement” (or expense) required from our types, suddenly life got a hell of a lot easier. There was still the danger of waking up next to Shrek but we’d been living with that hazard for some time already. The problem was then what to do in the hours between finishing work on a Friday and stumbling into a cab. Conversation was not on the male agenda in those days so we all started playing arcade machines in the pubs, eventually leading to the explosion in games machine sales for home use. Sony have a lot to thank The Tripe Girls for, as do we all.

There is the nagging feeling that somewhere there was a connection between excess alcohol and fake Burberry but it’s not for me to open that particular wound, not today anyway. Knowing when to quit is all part of the skill of being a slightly respected Pistorian.



Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Last King of Wales

It was a dark and barmy night in downtown Harare, a drunken Inferior Minister was snoring on the couch while the tennis coach made amour with his old lady in the back bedroom. Not many people had tennis lessons at midnight but the minister's missus was a keen student.

It was the fashion of the day to hire young Belgians to entertain the wives while bloated politicians slept off the day's politicking. At the next days Prime Minister's Question Time, the Minister let slip that he was sleeping very well recently. In no time at all the President had passed a motion to sequester said tennis coach to attend to his own housekeeping needs.

For the benefit of hindsight we will now refer to the Belgian Tennis Coach as "Benny" and The President Robert Mugabe will be known as "TC". TC's wife will be called "Choo Choo" and the Chief advisor to the President will be called "Brain". This story will be referred to as "some fucked up shit". I've been wanting to write that line for some time.

Benny was summoned to TC's house. "Welcome to my home Benny, I hear that you are very energetic for a Welshman", "I'm not Welsh, I'm Belgian" Benny was shitting his pants, "What is 'Belgian', I have never heard of such a thing, you must be Welsh Benny so I can also make a film about my greatness in the face of British oppression, like Idi, he is a good actor don't you think?". Benny started to speak but TC just laughed and Brain inserted his Kalashnikov into Benny's ear. That concluded the discussion.

The next day Benny was busy porking Choo Choo when Brain turned up unexpectedly. Brain was insanely jealous because Choo Choo was gorgeous but only TC and his hired hand were allowed to do the dirty. Brain wanted a piece of the action so he pulled out his "nine" and shot Choo Choo from behind in close quarters.

Benny panicked and Brain explained to him "you have to beat TC in a tennis match or I'll tell him you shot Choo Choo in the backside from close quarters. When TC is defeated I'll make sure you can get out safely, otherwise it's curtains for you my little cheese grilling friend." It seemed that Brain was familiar with Welsh Rarebit and although Benny failed to see the relevance he felt intimidated by Brain's ability to make such convoluted threats. It was impressive, even aspiring to South African educational standards. The amazing thing was that a Belgian would be familiar with Rarebit and the South African educational system, but Brain didn't spot that, being local.

Benny tried to salvage a sliver of loyalty, "I have a sworn duty as a ladies tennis coach", "you don't coach men?", "no but my friend does, we can do doubles but it's extra". Brain wasn't in the mood for extras he'd already shot his load into Choo Choo and just wanted to sleep.

The next day the game was on, TC was always looking for new challengers but there weren't many volunteers. "I don't get on the court as often as I'd like" he bantered as he served, "that's because you behead your opponents and torture their families" quipped Benny, "That's a pretty sharp return boyo, perhaps you'd like to make it more interesting. I heard that you and Brain had some fun with my Choo Choo yesterday". Benny lost the point as he looked round and saw Brain being dragged into the director's box, his face a bloody mess.

TC tossed in another one, Benny should have gobbled it up but his nerves were shot, it flew into the air off his rim as the crowd cheered. Brain peered through the blood that seeped into his eyes, he knew his game was up either way.

Benny was all over the place, it went to a third set tie break (they only play three sets under Zimbabwean men's invitational rules). Suddenly Brain charged at the glass front of the directors box, the glass shattered and Brain fell into the crowd as he cried "freedom isn't it Mrs Robinson" (that doesn't require a question mark in Welsh grammar) the umpire called a continuity error but overruled himself and gave the point to TC. Pandemonium broke out, Benny slipped onto a Club Med flight to Cardiff and TC Turned up at the Welsh Assembly with bags of Blood Oranges. The Welsh Assembly took a dim view "Bugger off back to Zimbabwe, you were supposed to bring Blood Diamonds you bloody idiot".

Eeeeh, there's never a dull moment.


Sunday, 6 July 2008

2008 Cat Gut Games

The year? 2008, Spain was at war with Switzerland in the leafy suburbs of South London. The Swiss were confident of victory as always but there emerged a fearless warrior from the south, some say he had the "Sangre de Toro" in his veins, others said "are all your leading men pissheads? Is there something you want to tell us?"

This Weekly would have left the story untold but for a chance comment by the twat's girlfriend who was touring this virtual citadel and issuing missives to the susceptible, as is her wont.

But before the battle was joined there were several days, some say as much as fourteen, where many came and grunted and sweated on the grass for a few heartfelt hours of insipid passion before being put out of their infertile misery. The Sisters won their cause and some said these were the most predictable final challengers in the closing days, others said "what do you want? the world number one from Belgium already quit". Perhaps it was, after all, a hollow victory for the winning Sister. We can but speculate.

But on the final day the battle ebbed and flowed for hours, the elements raged, the paella rained through holes in the cheese, the oracles re-told stories of Sweden against America from fully twenty eight years ago and the Swiss picked up the paella time and time again and hurled it back at the rampant Spanish.

Finally the Swiss crumbled under the incessant onslaught, this was not to be the Swiss time. The sleeveless wonder gathered the spoils and Ran to the Hills. The onlookers dispersed, night fell and the kebab sellers went back to dreaming about their cousins.

And as night fell the virtual citadel once again took on the eerie feint glow of a dim wit. Many wondered about what had taken place on this day, some simply accepted what they had seen, others plumbed the murky depths of conspiracy. What would have happened to the mysterious Swede if his record was taken by a Cuckoo? Why was he there? No one really knows what he was promised in exchange for quitting the scene in favour of Oil Money all those years ago.

Oil Money was an interesting concept to me at the tender age of eleven, I couldn't understand why a battery that lasts for five minutes takes four hours to charge. My friend had a remote controlled car and he was always saying he wanted to take out the electric motor and replace it with a petrol engine. The serious racers had five or ten cc petrol engines on their model cars, they were always beating the electric cars. That was the problem, we didn't have oil money, we just had dinner money so we went to the chippy at dinner time and set fire to the bins behind the council flats. With hindsight it's obvious there was a better solution but at the time it made perfect sense.

But these tales will be told long after my ashes have been sucked into a jet engine or washed into the global seafood bisk. But remember this; this was our time, we were men, our hearts swollen with pride and our petrol tanks brimming with diesel. We laughed, we cried, we sang the great victory songs, we marched, we danced.

We lived like Kings then, because tomorrow we will live like Maharajahs.

The End.