Morrissey, The Fifth Dimension and “Wedding Bell Blues”!?

Well, I am in shock. Little did I think the first time that chap who seems to be doing a good job of alienating his fanbase would appear on these pages, would be because he has recorded a song I became smitten with during my first year of blogging. I’d just been to a wedding, which coincided with me also discovering the Laura Nyro penned Wedding Bell Blues for the first time. A nice synchronicity so it was a no-brainer I should write about it. As for this version by Morrissey, it was recorded with Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, as one of the tracks for his soon-to-be-released album of ’60s covers called California Son. We might not agree with his politics and he is definitely sporting middle-age spread nowadays, but his voice still seems to be in good shape. I don’t know about you but I’m really loving his version of the song.

If you want to compare with the original by the 5th Dimension, here is the post from 2016, written the day after my friend’s daughter got married. Being objective, which version do you prefer? I’m wavering towards the new Morrissey one – Argh, is that still allowed I wonder.

First published October 2016

We had a wedding to attend yesterday and much of the week was spent preparing for it. When the song Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension came on the radio one afternoon, I was therefore already tuned into all things “wedding-y”. Secondly, as explained in my last post, of late I seem to have found myself continually gravitating towards songs from the late ‘60s, which I find bizarre as from a time when I was still a little kid. Finally, just as my fellow bloggers also have musical guilty pleasures, I felt a little uneasy at my appreciation of The 5th Dimension, but in no time at all I was dancing around the room and made a sneaky little purchase on iTunes.

Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension:

What I find fascinating about the ‘60s is that during that decade, in the wink of an eye, we moved from boy and girl bands, dressed very smartly in identical matching outfits and very rigid hairstyles to the wild abandon that constituted the hippy counterculture. The 5th Dimension were probably best-known for the song medley Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In, from the stage musical Hair. Hard to believe now that full-scale nudity even came to Scotland in the form of a touring production of the show in 1969.

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But back to Wedding Bell Blues, it is a song that was written and originally recorded by Laura Nyro in 1966 but only really became a big hit when covered by The 5th Dimension in 1969. The song is written from the perspective of a woman whose boyfriend has not yet proposed to her, and she wonders, “Am I ever gonna see my wedding day?” The woman obviously adores her man but there is definitely a theme of frustration going on there as well.

There was a lot more to the above post, as I went on to describe the wedding, and how I embarrassed myself in front of the bride’s friends and family by embarking on the full six minute “re-enactment of the lyrics” dance to Bohemian Rhapsody, with Mr WIAA in tow (link here). For the moment though, I’m just curious, what do people think of this new Morrissey album and will you be adding it to your collection?

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Until next time…

Wedding Bell Blues Lyrics
(Song by Laura Nyro)

Bill I love you so
I always will
I look at you and see
the passion eyes of May
Oh but am I ever gonna see
my wedding day?
Oh I was on your side Bill
when you were losin’
I’d never scheme or lie Bill
There’s been no foolin’
but kisses and love won’t carry me
till you marry me Bill

Bill I love you so
I always will
and in your voice I hear
a choir of carousels
Oh but am I ever gonna hear
my wedding bells?
I was the one came runnin’
when you were lonely
I haven’t lived one day
not loving you only
but kisses and love won’t carry me
till you marry me Bill

Bill I love you so
I always will
and though devotion rules my heart
I take no bows
Oh but Bill you know
I wanna take my wedding vows
Come on Bill
Come on Bill
I got the wedding bell blues

End of Term Blues, Simon & Garfunkel and “The Boxer”

My last post was a bit of a rant as a result of having imbibed a few Friday night wines. Time to move on, quickly, as all a bit embarrassing now. Last week we had to submit the final assignment for my college course, and the week before, we had our very last lecture of the academic year. It coincided with that really warm spell of weather which rather nicely landed upon Easter weekend. Although most of us VC in from home (as we are scattered across the vast college catchment area), I did go in for that lecture, and although we were all sweltering in the heat, it was nice to have a last meet up before the long summer break.

end of term

Sadly, I will now lose touch with most of my classmates as I am a part-time student and will be covering the remaining modules not taken this year, next year. Fortunately for me, the girl whose work I definitely warm to most is the other part-time student, so our paths will continue to cross. She was one of the few of us to complete the 30 day NaPoWriMo challenge written about recently, and here is another set of her amazing poems – Same subject matter, same title but two entirely different approaches. She says they are just rough drafts, but they look pretty finished to me. I am in awe.

Adrenaline-soaked Gauze and Silver Nitrate #1

An ancient trade; a coiled spring in sinew
The blood of men that failed to make their mark
A stage all ringed about with ropes and snarling
(Once you’re) In, just you and him, a roaring dark

The cutman’s in the corner gaging damage
The only middle-ground in all this noise
An alchemy of bone and glove, blood-thunder
The bruises start to blossom round your eyes

The oldest game that only ever yielded
When you saw the Devil’s face and knew your worth
Or was it God’s – his vital disappointment
(You’re) laughing bloody, carved in iron and in wrath

Adrenaline-soaked Gauze and Silver Nitrate #2

Begin the age-old fight, again, unbloodied

The bullet’s spark with caution is a cunning scalpel
Older eyes keep watch, as scattered scars break forth
This broad shoulder, molten heavy, built for battle
Reach and stagger as he falls towards the earth
Rage withheld until the fight is almost over
Face it all son, keep the rein in good and tight
Grinning bloody through the carnage thunder
‘Let the blood flow till he’s back in front.’
A break, tuck the edge, and enswell stiffly
A hand-clasp to his feet – he trusts your poise
A nod; you’ll see him at the end, come swiftly
Let him go, steady now into the noise

Back into the ring, my son, unburied

For me, there can only be one song to include in this post – The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel

The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel:

I think I’m going to have to set up a new category on my sidebar as I realise this must be at least the fifth song featured around here by that talented duo from Queens, NYC. I really don’t think I remember the song from when it would have appeared in the UK Singles Chart in 1969, but when a friend gave me a home-recorded cassette tape (naughty) with their greatest hits a few years later, it was one of the stand out songs for me and often listened to. It apparently took 100 hours to record in two different studios in two cities, and in a church with a tiled dome which had great acoustics. The legendary record executive Clive Davis was told a standard 8-track recorder wasn’t going to be enough for all their material, so he stumped up for a 16-track, and it shows.

I hadn’t heard of the term placeholder before but it’s what they call the part of a song where they just haven’t come up with the lyrics yet. The temporary bit where any old words or sounds can slot in. When Paul Simon couldn’t find the words to replace the lie la lie chorus, it was left as was, unintentionally giving the song international appeal.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been a very part-time student over the last eight months, and each semester’s work is packed into an intense ten-week period so not been too onerous at all. Just got the results of my last assignment back though and pleased to report that all these years later I’m still a straight A’s student (fairly normal nowadays but it used to mean you were a swot). Sadly at this rate I’ll be drawing my state pension before I finish the full degree I embarked on last year, so I suspect that won’t be happening. I think I have another year left in me however of juggling the various commitments I seem to have taken on of late as well as doing the course. No more poetry next year, but glad my talented fellow student will still be by my side, as I can’t wait to see what wonderful material is still in her arsenal. I suspect it will be epic.

Until next time….

The Boxer Lyrics
(Song by Paul Simon)

I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station
Running scared,
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Asking only workman’s wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue
I do declare
There were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there, le le le le le le le

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Then I’m laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Going home
Where the New York City winters
Aren’t bleeding me
Leading me
Going home

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains, mmm mmm

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie……
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

First World Problems, Friday Pints and “Getting Fresh at The Weekend”

“It’s Friday, it’s five to five . . . It’s time to go to the pub!”

Those of us in the UK will remember well that Friday at five to five was always Crackerjack! time, but hey, that’s not been part of my weekend ritual for over 40 years. Neither has going to the pub been part of my weekend ritual for an awful long time, but somehow, it was just what was required earlier on this evening. I have now returned somewhat tipsy, and rather than it being a bit of a car crash, it used to be one of the best times for me to turn to blogging. Let’s see how it goes this time.

To get us in the weekend mood, I need a weekend song – Hmm…

The computer I’m on just now doesn’t have the master database of digital music loveliness, but having just done a quick search on YouTube, here is something that certainly does mention the weekend. I was very fond of Mel and Kim back in the day and here they are Showing Out and Getting Fresh at the Weekend.

Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend) by Mel and Kim:

Why did I feel the need to go to the pub tonight? Because I’m disappointed. I’ve spent the last few months getting my new business up and running, but as ever, I have entered the market too late. Mr WIAA and myself seem to be experts at always getting in on the act a little too late and we are now the proud owners of a lovely holiday hideaway that looks as if it might cost more to run than the revenue we are likely to get back from paying guests. The Highlands of Scotland is up there amongst the top five regions in the world to visit in 2019, but it seems many of us had the same idea, so as a business idea it has turned out to be a poor one. I had stupidly thought that my plan to act as a local guide, and to come up with suggestions as to how guests could make the most of their stay, would be a winner – Turns out they just want a lockbox, good Wifi and for me to bugger off!

On the upside, if you fancy a short break, do it now, as in some place prices have returned to 1987 levels, back when Mel and Kim Appleby (mentioned above) hit the No. 1 spot in the UK with Respectable. Ok, so they were part of the much derided SAW stable of artists, but it’s the weekend and I have just visited the pub in town which was very much our hostelry of choice when I arrived in the Highlands back in 1987, so all very appropriate. Of course back then it was, and still is, the kind of bar where the likes of Mel and Kim would never have been selected on the jukebox. Oh no, it was more of a Celtic Rock kind of bar, but it was also where I met Mr WIAA a couple of years later, so happy memories of the place.

There is always a touch of sadness now when we watch the Appleby sisters looking so youthful and full of life, as Mel sadly died of cancer three years later, at the incredibly young age of 23. What they are wearing in this clip sums up the kind of clothing girls adopted around that time. Tops that fell off one shoulder, dolman sleeves, berets and trousers with belts that cinched in the waist. I blame Britney Spears for the demise of women’s waistlines – She hastened the falling out of fashion of the cinched in waist, with her famously low slung jeans that just covered the tootamuffin (my own made-up word) and no more. Girls could eat what they wanted and didn’t have to worry about fastening the top button of their jeans. In my humble opinion, she is single-handedly responsible for the current obesity crisis.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I’ve had a Friday pint, a bit of a rant and a bit of a nostalgic look back at the music and fashion of 1987. I never did get a Crackerjack pencil and I doubt if the kids of today would remotely want one – It would have to be the latest iPhone at the very least.

I’m sorry to have moaned about my new business, but it just hasn’t panned out how it was supposed to, so obviously a bit disappointing. Early days though, and hopefully as the summer progresses I will get more takers for Alyson’s Highland Adventures, guests who want a bit more interaction with their hosts, rather than simply getting the access code to the lockbox.

Apparently I’m off to the football tomorrow as in the two years DD’s boyfriend has been attached to the local team (in a medical capacity), she hasn’t been to a single match. Of course it would have to coincide with a particularly cold snap where hailstones have actually fallen here today. Our stadium was built on a piece of reclaimed land that juts out into the Moray Firth. It’s going to have to be a case of thermals and woolly hats I think. If we survive the temperatures, I will return to welcome my next set of guests, who with any luck, might be in the mood for a Highland Adventure.

Until next time….

Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend) Lyrics
(Song by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Peter Waterman)

Show show show show, show show show show
Show show show show, show show show
Showin’ out, showin’ out
Showin’ out, showin’ out
Showin’ out, showin’ outGet fresh at the weekend
Showin’ out, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend
Showin’ out, showin’ outYou’d better live in love than luxury, it’s alright
And don’t be dining out on foolish dreams every nightO-o-only takes a moment to feel alright
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Showin’ out, showin’ outCan’t afford to wear diamond and pearl, that’s okay
Wouldn’t want to be that kind of girl anywayO-o-only takes a moment to feel alright
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Showin’ out, showin’ outI can supply you things
I can provide everything
If it’s the man’s hand that pays the price
Then you belong to meOnly only only o’ (show show show show)
Only only only o’ (show show show show)
Only only only o’ (show show show show)
Only only only o’ (show show show show)

Can’t afford to buy finer things, that’s alright
We won’t just lose our heads for anything anytime

O-o-only takes a moment to feel alright
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out, showin’ out, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out

Showin’ out, I’m showin’ out
Showin’ out, I’m showin’ out

Poetry Assignments, Steve Strange and “Fade to Grey”

Well, I have been largely absent from these pages this month and largely absent from the comments boxes of the blogs I follow, but on the home stretch now of a particulary busy time for me. Today I have decided to timetable my day into four sections in order to fit everything in, and these sections reflect the very diverse strands to how my life has turned out since giving up my sensible, secure job a year and a half ago.

The final assignment for my college course is due in on Wednesday, so I decided to tackle it first thing this morning. The course was meant to be my main focus this year but of course regular visitors will know all that changed when my elderly mum had a fall, and instead of becoming a full-time student last September, I became a full-time carer for a time. As it turns out, the shift to part-time was probably a wise one, and for some time I managed to kill two birds with one stone so to speak, as my Saturday blog post (when I was still sticking to that regime) often inspired the “homework” I endeavoured to complete for the course on a Sunday. I am still amused by the fact my tutor gave me most praise for a poem I dashed off after writing about the song Shades of Gray by the Monkees, following the  death of Peter Tork (link here).

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The Monkees

I didn’t have much time, and the song had formed a bit of an earworm over the course of the weekend, so a hybrid list/concrete poem developed after referring to a paint chart courtesy of either Mr Crown or Mr Dulux (can’t remember which now). There is much talk of plagiarism in academia nowadays as there is great scope for cutting and pasting from the work of others online. I made no pretence however of saying I’d come up with these shades of grey myself, I purely selected them and rearranged them, but my lecturer complimented me on them and I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. Oh well, not for a marked assignment this one, and it was my take on the Brexit shenanigans going on at the time, so no harm done.

Shades of Grey

But hey, there are plenty of other songs about the colour grey, and the first that comes to mind is Fade to Grey by Visage. I see this song is attributed to the genre new wave, but in my mind it can only be classed as New Romantic where Steve Strange, the man who almost single-handedly started that movement, performed lead vocals.

Fade to Grey by Visage:

The whole New Romanticism movement came along half way through my four years as a full-time student first time around, and I probably embraced it more than any other in terms of how I dressed at the time. It was a long time since I’d had to court the approval of my parents in such matters and I was still nowhere near entering the “real world”, where sensible suits rather than flamboyant frills and falderals would have to be adopted.

Many trips to both the local Oxfam and fabric/haberdashery shop were all that was needed to acquire the necessary apparel. Ribbons, tassels, hats and big coats were the order of the day, as were shirts with ruffles and simply made but colourful skirts. Two metres of fabric and a roll of flat sewing elastic was all that was needed. I still had my granny’s old Singer sewing machine in my student room but it needed an upgrade, so I asked for a new sewing machine for my 21st birthday later on that year. Back in those days clothes were still relatively expensive compared to income, especially a paltry student income, so my evenings were split between leaning over the books, and leaning over the sewing machine.

Also in my student room was my beloved black and white portable telly, which in those far less technologically saturated times, was the only one in our flat shared by six people. Come 7.30pm on a Thursday we of course all piled in to watch TOTP, and in 1980-81 this was the kind of music that pretty much filled each show. Fade to Grey was released in 1980, on the same day as the band’s debut album. It reached No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart and made the No. 1 spot in Germany and Switzerland. The song is sung in English and spoken in French. The music video became one of the first directed by Messers Godley and Creme after leaving the world of 10cc behind and becoming masters of that new medium.

Steve Strange formed Visage with Rusty Egan and Midge Ure from Rich Kids, Billy Currie from Ultravox, and Barry Adamson, John McGeoch and Dave Formula from Magazine, so a veritable supergroup. Steve had appeared in the video for David Bowie’s No. 1 hit Ashes to Ashes (first spotted at 0:30), a song which helped propel the burgeoning New Romantic fashion movement into the mainstream. Both he and Rusty Egan worked at Blitz, the influential New Romantic nightclub in London, from 1979 until 1981. They famously only allowed entry to the weird and the wonderful and apparently Mick Jagger was once refused admittance. Egan and Strange later opened up the Camden Palace nightclub, also in London, where they continued to spread and influence the development of electronica music in the UK.

Blitz Club 1980s.png

Sadly Steve died at the age of only 55 back in 2015. He had frequently appeared on those talking head shows in the years prior to that, and it didn’t seem as if the years had been kind to him. He certainly left his mark however in that he was responsible for a whole cultural phenomenon right there at the cusp of the ’70s/’80s. He was also responsible for the honing of my sewing skills, which I have to say have come in very handy over the years.

So, that’s the blog post written, which was the second item on today’s timetable. Now it’s time to get Mr WIAA’s latest batch of beautiful things dispatched to their new owners, and then, later on today, I welcome the next set of guests to my holiday hideaway. No time to write any stories about that new venture in this post, but they will definitely follow.

Until next time….

Fade To Grey Lyrics
(Song by Billy Currie/Chris Payne/Midge Ure)

Devenir gris
Devenir gris

One man on a lonely platform
One case sitting by his side
Two eyes staring cold and silent
Show fear as he turns to hide

We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)

Un homme dans une gare désolée
Une valise à ses cotés
Des yeux fixes et froids
Montrent de la peur lorsqu’il
Se tourne pour se cacher

We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)

Sens la pluie comme un été anglais
Entends les notes d’une chanson lointaine
Sortant de derrière un poster
Espérant que la vie ne fut aussi longue

We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)

Feel the rain like an English summer
Hear the notes from a distant song
Stepping out from a backdrop poster
Wishing life wouldn’t be so long

Devenir gris

We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)
Devenir gris

Postscript:

Ashes to Ashes was a fantasy police drama series set in the 1980s and the sequel to Life on Mars which has been written about around here before. Needless to say music from the era played a big part in the show, and what better song to include but Fade to Grey. Here is a clip from the show which features the man himself, Steve Strange.

Suzi, Smokie, The Snowdroppers and a Film About A Red Dog

Well, I have so many big things going on in my life at the moment I don’t know where to begin – So I won’t! I do however need to throw down some words and share a tune, just to keep my hand in as they say, so this post is going to be about the film Red Dog which I’ve just finished watching with the other half.

I think I’ve mentioned this around here before, but back in 2012 I put in place a regular monthly event where a group of around seven of us from my neck of the woods would go to our local theatre/cinema to watch whatever turned out to be showing on the last Thursday of the month. It ended up being a great way of randomly trying out new genres, or foreign language films, as well as potentially catching the big Hollywood blockbusters of the day.

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As regular visitors around here would probably expect, a spreadsheet was kept, where I recorded all the films we went to see, who the lead actors were, the directors, the country of origin, and of course a star rating. Of late my little group has dwindled and I can see the demise of Film Club soon, as some of us have retired and grandchildren have started to put in an appearance. We had a great run of it though, and as fate would have it, back in 2012, the first three films we went to see all starred animals. The first was War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel of the same name. The second was The Artist, the French Oscar winner shot in the style of a black-and-white silent film and starring (amongst others) a little dog called Uggie. But best of all for me, and the recipient of a 5-Star rating, was Red Dog.

Red Dog was a 2011 Australian film set in the 1970s, based on the true story of a dog adopted by the workers of Dampier, a tough mining town in Western Australia. I won’t give too much away, but suffice to say, the storyline revolved around the theme of loyalty and nothing gets to me in a movie more than the undying devotion of a dog – Many tears were shed that first time I watched it in the cinema, and even tonight, on probably the 5th viewing, a fair few tissues were needed to see me through. Red Dog was known locally as the Pilbara Wanderer, and there is still a statue of him in the town of Dampier, erected by the workers of the mining company in his memory. He was indeed the Greyfriars Bobby of Australia.

But I am making this film sound a bit depressing whereas it is anything but. Labelled a comedy-drama for good reason, there are moments of great hilarity throughout which is what you would probably expect from an Aussie film about a bunch of sex-starved males on a red, dusty outpost of that vast country. It also had a great soundtrack made up of carefully selected ’70s music and songs performed by The Snowdroppers who played the role of house band at the local bar. This Australian blues band have been praised for their energetic live performances and on-stage musical theatrics, drawing influence from not only blues but also rockabilly and punk. This is not a clip from the actual film, but the song Do The Stomp is the one they perform in the bar, which has more than a touch of the old Wild West about it.

The big surprise for me however was the inclusion of the song Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro, but it fitted a particular scene in the film really well and I ended up downloading it when I got home. It only reached No. 41 in the UK Singles Chart, but had hit the top spot in Australia, which is how it probably came to be included. Despite the film being set in the early ’70s, this song was from 1978, but watching the pair of them in the video clip here, they do represent that earlier phase of the decade perfectly, before punk and it’s antithesis disco took over. The song was written by that prolific partnership comprised of Mike Chapman (an Australian) and Nicky Chinn who between them scored a succession of massive hits written for the likes of glam-rockers Sweet, as well as for Mud, Smokie (of which Chris Norman was a member) and Suzi. (Excuse the cringeworthy clip here, but it seemed to be de rigueur at that time to re-enact the lyrics whilst singing these two-handers.)

Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been so busy of late I needed some downtime this evening, and watching a favourite old movie is sometimes just the tonic we need. A good soundtrack can really lift a film and the song choices for Red Dog were excellent I thought.

In case you are wondering where my full moon post is this month, I think I’m actually all mooned-out at the moment, as there is nothing left for me to learn about our only satellite. We should all have been witness to the Pink Moon on Friday night though, and if anyone wants a reminder about how it got that name, here is a link to my Nick Drake post from last year.

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We don’t really do Easter is a big way here in Scotland but if you do celebrate it, hope you have a good one. The perky weather presenters are promising us an exceptionally warm weekend for the time of year, which would be all well and good if we didn’t know that it’s only because we’re killing the planet. In a few years time Scotland will look like the  Western Australia of Red Dog if something doesn’t change. Those with the power to do something about it are all so consumed with the mechanics of Brexit, that none of the really big stuff is being tackled at all, and I fear we are all stumblin’ in to something much, much bigger.

Until next time…

Stumblin’ In Lyrics
(Song by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn)

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

Wherever you go, whatever you do
You know these reckless thoughts of mine are following you
I’m falling for you, whatever you do
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I never knew
Whatever it takes, baby I’ll do it for you

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

You were so young, and I was so free
I may been young, but baby that’s not what I wanted to be
Well you were the one, oh why was it me
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I’ve never seen
Whatever you need, baby you’ve got it from me

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in

Grace Slick, “White Rabbit” and NaPoWriMo

Not a lot of writing around here for a while as I’ve been a bit preoccupied with writing elsewhere. Last time I posted something, it was about the Weekend Residential I had in Cromarty with my college classmates (link here). I had been a bit harsh about the regime (no alcohol allowed on the premises, lots of uber-healthy foodstuffs etc), but you know what, by the end of the weekend we had all really bonded and have been in constant touch ever since. I had written that post on the Saturday morning, but by Saturday evening I had kind of fallen in with the music-loving group of students who had brought guitars and fiddles. An impromptu jamming session began in the big kitchen on the ground floor. I was amazed at how many older songs these youngsters knew well, many of which have put in an appearance around here. One of our number was a young student with a fantastic voice, who could have given Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane a run for her money when performing her version of White Rabbit (the backstory to that song in a previous post, link here).

White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane:

I would never have known this had it not been for the course, but April is NaPoWriMo, otherwise known as National Poetry Writing Month. The challenge is to write 30 poems during the month, one every day. There is a closed group set up on Facebook for our class, and everyone is manfully posting their efforts on a daily basis. I’m in awe of the talent within our little group, and of course feel as if my own efforts fall short. They still don’t know about this place, and I’m going to keep it that way, which means I can anonymously share some of our efforts in honour of this fantastic creative project.

poets corner

Presumed Paris Syndrome

‘Creatures scratchin’….
A new moon, a sideways glance
A friend she ain’t made yet
Raising a feathered hand at the bar

She’s loose in the French Quarter
Allowed to dip her toe in
(Because even in her dreams she ain’t that golden)

Cloistered black magnolia shadows
Dripping deep ripples into purple pools

A whole city drenched in graveyards
Night-wakeful, and bloodshot
This; where the old gods came to die
or at least drink heavily
Before whispers sucked ’em down into molasses

She’s heard voices talking this city up for years
A long black coat hanging just inside the door
Crickets in his footsteps

When the city’s hot and sticky on your back
Like a drunk you had to come and carry home
Throttle of a motorcycle, opened up on a straight stretch
Out to the bayou where the gallow trees hang low at 3pm

She drinks burgundy here
And sleeps in the afternoon
Because the nights are incandescent.

A slither, aged shiver
Full of heavy mud, meconium
Passing like a paddle in the painted-silver night
Suzanne sits pitting pebbles
Orange seeds in clefs and trebles
Underneath a red Louisiana moon

From the other end of the spectrum…

Heilan’ Coo

I’ll write a haiku
aboot a big heilan’ coo
ginger, hairy, moo

And finally…

The “B” Word (A Brexit Acrostic)

Ballsed-up badly – It was supposed to be advisory
Rigidly stuck to her plan, didn’t make it revisory
Exiting Strangeways in a straightjacket, would have been easier
X marks the spot for those who peddle political amnesia
If democracy fails, will anarchy sweep the land?
Theresa of the Wheat Fields, it’s in the palm of your hand

I’ll leave it up to you to guess which of the above (first drafts) is mine, if any.

At this point I thought it would be great to share a clip of Saturday morning kid’s telly stalwarts Trev and Simon, performing something from Poetry Corner. Sadly my memory had let me down and it was Singing Corner they championed. Poetry Corner was a feature from Harry Hill’s Saturday night telly show. There are loads of examples, but these will give you the gist.

No lyrics this time as lots of poetry type stuff already included in this one.

In other news however, Theresa May has been From Paris to Berlin as she is still Looking For A Way Out. Yes, she has found herself in a bit of hole, but not as black as the one they’ve finally managed to take a picture of. Turns out the heart of the galaxy looks a bit like a Halloween pumpkin with one eye. Who knew?

BBVNQks.jpgUntil next time….

Postscript:

How bizarre. I woke up this morning to discover the new extension date for us leaving the EU is the 31st October, Halloween. I think a few heads had been turned yesterday by that photo of the black hole, and they too subliminally decided it looked like a giant pumpkin, so set the date accordingly. Lots more bats in the belfry before then no doubt.

“Jilted John”, Gordon and 21st Century Student Life

Well, a totally different routine for me this weekend, as for only the second time since I started my college course last September, I am meeting up with my classmates in a non-virtual fashion. Turns out courses like ours are mainly done online nowadays, with lectures being given via Video Conference. ‘Tis the times, but I had hoped, like last time around, I would make lifelong buddies. A slight flaw there in that most of them are just starting out in life, whereas being realistic, I am already over two thirds of the way through my life. Also, the only communication between students nowadays seems to be via social media/group chat and the like. Although I seem to have mastered blogging, that world is still pretty much alien to me (and being older than most of their parents, I think I am possibly out of the loop anyway).

But hey ho, I rolled up to the village of Cromarty yesterday at 4pm on the dot, as that was the time our weekend programme of activities was supposed to begin. The centre where we are staying is an old brewery, so what better name for this quite fabulous centre for the arts than, The Old Brewery. I am local-ish, so know the village well, and Mr WIAA’s very first job was at the local pottery (it is a very artsy place), but for people who have never visited before, it really is quite something – Almost a time capsule from the 18th century when Cromarty was one of the most prosperous places in Scotland because of trade with Northern Europe, and because of the vast shoals of silver darlings (herring to you and I) that were caught off its shores.

I did say it was almost an 18th century time capsule however, and that would be because if you look west along the firth, the view is something like this. I went out for a walk last night amongst the quaint streets of the old fishertown, but when I joined the shore road, I was quite mesmerised by the scale of the lit-up structures attached to the oil fabrication yard on the north side of the firth.

Drilling rigs are parked up in the Cromarty Firth near Invergordon, Scotland
The Oil Fabrication Yards at Nigg

But this morning, I woke up to this – What a weird mix of old and new, but strangely alluring too, as it brings a modern-day sharpness to the quaint and slightly twee village.

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The quaint village of Cromarty

But what of our programme of activities? Well despite there being a timetable with carefully allocated slots, it seems that artsy kinda people don’t hold with sticking to timetables, so I’ve been a bit thrown, as I like to have a clear structure to my day. The other thing that has thrown me is that the students of today eat very healthily and don’t go the the pub. Forty years ago, when I was a student first time around, our very educational Field Trips were an excuse to do little else than go to the pub and get very, very drunk. Last night I suggested we head out for some food but nearly everyone had brought little microwaveable pots of grains, vegetables and unidentifiable gluten/dairy-free substances. What the f**k? I did persuade one other soul to come with me, but when we got back, having consumed some very unhealthy scampi and chips, everyone else had headed to bed (alone). No alcohol allowed on the premises so not much else to do but join them.

On the upside, I’ve had a really busy and stressful time of late, so for a couple of days I’ve hopped off the hamster wheel and can just relax. The clocks change tonight, so an hour less in my little student bed than I had hoped for, but if I’m in it by 10pm (as seems highly likely), I’ll still rack up more hours of sleep than usual.

What song to include though? Back in 1978, when I was a student first time around, this song, Jilted John by Jilted John was in the charts, and whenever Gordon X, the President of the Student’s Representative Council was called upon to speak at an official ceremony in one of the ancient university’s impressive auditoriums, he had to suffer the ignominy of having it sung to him by the mass student body.

I think I now miss those days.

Jilted John (Gordon is a Moron) by Jilted John:

Until next time….

Jilted John Lyrics
(Song by Jilted John)

I’d been going out with a girl,
and her name is “Julie”.
But last night she said to me,
when we were watching telly…
This is what she said;

She said; “Listen John, I love you,
but there’s this bloke I fancy.
I don’t want to two-time you,
so it’s the end for you and me!”

“Who’s this bloke?” I asked her.
“Gordon” She replied.
“Not that puff!” I said dismayed.
“Yes, but he’s no puff” She cried.
“He’s more of a man than you’ll ever be!”

Here we go. Two Three Four.

I was so upset that,
I cried all the way to the chip shop
When I came out, there was Gordon
Standing at the bus stop.

And guess who was with him?
Yeah, Julie!
And they were both laughing at me!

Oh she’s cruel and heartless
To pack me for Gordon!
Just ’cause he’s better looking than me
Just ’cause he’s cool and trendy.

But I know he’s a moron!
Gordon is a moron!
Gordon is a moron!
Gordon is a moron!

Here we go. Two Three Four.

She’s a slag! He’s a creep!
She’s a tart who’s very cheap!
She is a slut, and 50 tough.
She is a bitch, and he’s a puff!
Yeah, yeah! It’s not fair!
Yeah, yeah! It’s not fair!

I’m so upset.

I’m so upset! I’m so upset!
Yeah yeah!

I’m gonna smash his face in!
Yeah, but he’s bigger than me In’t he?
I know! I’l get my mate Barry to hit him!
He’d flatten ‘im!

Postscript:

Jilted John was a character played by comedy actor and musician Graham David Fellows. He was a drama student at Manchester Poly when he first came to prominence as the eponymous singer of the novelty record Jilted John, a first-person narrative of an embittered teenager whose girlfriend Julie had left him for another man called Gordon, just because “he was better looking” and “cause he was cool and trendy“. The song became known for the refrain “Gordon is a moron” repeated many, many times.

Jilted John was first played on national radio by BBC Radio One’s John Peel who commented that if the single was promoted by a major record label he could see it becoming a huge hit. This proved to be the case. The song was introduced on TOTP as “one of the most bizarre singles of the decade”, and reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart.

The lyrics are most definitely questionable and wouldn’t be included in a mainstream pop hit today but ’twas the times, so I left them in as they were written 41 years ago.