I'm not a grumpy old man, just an out of synch hippy

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Dancin’ the Night Away


Even the most ardently youthful Baby Boomer becomes painfully aware of one fact. You can’t dance like you used to. These days your Twist is a slight wobble, your Mashed Potato is barely crumbled and your Chicken is definitely less funky. But we still love the music! Whenever the first bar of “Land of 1,000 Dances” blasts out, baby boomers leap out onto the floor, clutch their back, groan, and dial their osteopath.

After extensive field research I’m happy to report that there are a number of dance steps currently performed by baby boomers which don’t normally result in injury, at least to the dancer.  They may not be pretty for the viewer, but they feel beautiful inside. They are:

The Flapping Scarecrow   Dangle your arms, keeping your feet still. Now move your body awkwardly from side to side while violently swinging your arms. A slightly dazed, ecstatic look is appropriate.

The Hijacked Airliner   Alternately lifting your feet, raise your arms till they are horizontal, and bend them in at the elbow till your hands brush your ears. Sway from side to side, eyes upwards. Advance threateningly to the other dancers.

The Air Traffic Controller   Raise your arm straight up from the shoulder. Mouth the words to the song. Whenever there’s a guitar lick, make a fist and punch the air.

The Apathy Shuffle  One hand in pocket, the other hanging limp, stay on the spot, treading as if you were walking through a gardenful of slugs. This step is often done by those who have been dragged out by enthusiastic partners.

The Jim Carrey Mince   Elbows in, wrists out, move your body in a barely noticeable pendulum motion. All your effort goes into your face, which makes extreme expressions ranging from beatific ecstasy to contorted anguish.

The Cow in a Tornado   Simply flail wildly, acting as if you had no bones. Stagger round the floor, as if you were out of control. Correction. You are out of control.

The Cringing Teenager  A chance for the younger generation to shine. This one’s easy. Crouch at the back of the room, hiding your eyes either with your iPhone, or, in the unlikely event you haven’t brought it, the curtains. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013


Covering Art
The Kings of Leon new one?
When I was a teenager I didn’t really do art. If you’d have asked me, I’d probably have said that Van Gogh played inside right for Ajax and wasn’t Monet that shabby detective who kept lighting his pipe on the wall? I liked Rubens but that was because he depicted naked women lying on cushions smiling at me.

What I did was LP covers. I didn’t even need to leave my room. All I had to do was flop on my bed and stare at them for hours. Why stress over the significance of the hand gesture of a Madonna or the beauty of Turner’s treatment of water? I had far more important things to consider. Such as, did the trees in the background of the photo on Bob Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding” make the shape of a man’s face? Everyone said they did. I’d worn the grooves flat before I came to the conclusion that they made the shape of trees. Lots of lousy art appreciation but some great music.

And did the turned-down cornet on the cover of “Sergeant Pepper” in front of Ringo’s waxwork cover up an opium poppy? Was that really Jackson Browne dressed up as a lawman on the inside sleeve of “Desperado”?  And was the woman lounging by the fireplace on “Bringin’ It All Back Home” Bob Dylan himself dragged up? If so, what was the significance?

These were the serious issues I faced in my teens. OK, the Vietnam war, poverty and racism were important in their own way, but you had to put them to one side when considering why Roger Dean had painted the alien moon green on the latest “Yes” album.

I like to think I’ve grown up. I do art now. I was looking at Gainsborough’s portrait of the Linley Sisters last week. I stood for twenty minutes. Was that an alien spaceship hidden in the tree trunk? Could that be a magic mushroom growing under her slipper? And that sheet of music she’s holding – it isn't Hendrix’s guitar solo from “Voodoo Chile – Slight Return?”, is it?

If so – why?

Thursday, 11 April 2013


Celebrity Love Dance

It’s that Reese Witherspoon. All day long she rings, tweets, facebooks me. Do I want to hang around over a Big Mac, do I fancy a movie….. it’s sort of nice, but I’m feeling smothered. I keep wanting to tell her, “Reese, honey, I’m already spoken for. I’ve been Julia Robert’s other half since 1992. If she was good enough for me then, she’s good enough for me now.”  The trouble is, Reese is a real sweetie and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

So I meet up with George and natter about it. George – sorry, I should have said my old pal George Clooney, don’t know if you know him – says, “Tony, it’s a job for another woman. Get one of Reese’s very best friends gently to put her in the picture about you and Julia.” For this I buy George a beer. He appreciates it. He’s been a bit on his uppers lately.

So I take Scarlett Johansson out for a coffee to speak to Reese as they’re very friendly with each other. I’ve just told her about Reese's stalking when I notice Scarlett is gazing up at me with her head in her hands. She’s not listening. “I’d love another coffee” she says.

Next day I’m getting tweeted, rang and facebooked by Scarlett as well as by Reese. Every quarter of an hour my phone bleeps. I call up George for some more good buddy advice. He brings along Shailene Woodley – a sweet girl, they seem to be thick. I tell him how I’m not getting a moment’s peace from Reece and Scarlett and, frankly, it’s got to stop.

“Tony, you seem to get all this unwanted attention from lovely women” says George, “it never seems to happen to me!” Shailene is looking up at me with her big eyes. “I can see why” she murmurs.

 Next day I get tweeted, rang, facebooked and emailed every five minutes by Shailene, Scartlett and Reese. Julia’s beginning to notice something. Maybe it’s my blush when I get one of their fizzier messages. Something’s got to be done. Time for George again, who, although edgy about losing Shailene, always appreciates it when you buy him a beer.

I tell him that my life is being wrecked by the harassment I’m getting from beautiful people who don’t understand that I just want to be left alone. I break up mid-sentence and rest my head in my arms, sobbing. I control it and sit up, trying to smile.

“It's the first time I’ve looked at a guy this way,” says George, “Fancy giving it a go?” 

So now I'm being tweeted, rang, facebooked and emailed by Reese, Scarlett, Sheilene....and George.....

Friday, 29 March 2013


Customer Questionnaire

To improve our services to you, this blog would appreciate it if you could take a couple of minutes to complete this questionnaire.

Your visit does really matter to us.

Your age                           Young and fresh             Old and fagged out      
Your gender                      Female              Male                   Undecided

How did you come across this blog?
            By sheer, pig-awful bad luck   
I was looking for a sausage cooking website called Burnt Baby Banger and miskeyed this one by mistake
Tony Kirwood owes me £10, 000 and I’m trying to trace the bastard

How useful do you find this blog ?
on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “It’s essential to my continuing ability to breathe” and 5 is “If I don’t quit this page now I’m going to slit my wrists.” ?

How do you think this blog can be improved?
It can’t. It should be taken down and put in some landfill
A bit of humour would help
By including something about cooking or cats. The last time I tried to fry my moggy she tasted dreadful. 

Which shoe do you put on first?
I thought it would be fun to know and I’m getting bored.

Why are you still doing this questionnaire?
Because you’re even more bored than me 
Because you’re stupider than I thought
Because if you leave the computer room your wife will ask you to clean the oven

Thank you for your time. Before you go, if you tick the box you consent to being sent details of our services and products. The latest one is a nifty little oven cleaner.

I’m hoping that selling these is going to be more lucrative than blogging about baby boomers.

Saturday, 23 March 2013


Skills We’ve Lost Over the Last 60 Years

DEFROSTING A SPITFIRE
You’re at 40,000 feet and the tanks have frozen. Suddenly you’re set upon by a squadron of Messerschmitts. What do you do? Today’s shiftless, apathetic youth would be at a loss, wouldn’t they, huh? HUH?

I felt ashamed writing the last paragraph. You see, I’m a baby boomer. Buzzing about in Spitfires wasn’t something we did. We caught a bus instead. But we did have some vital, manly skills which are in danger of being lost and which I’m anxious to pass on.

GAUGEING THE NUMBER OF 45 RPM SINGLES TO PUT ON A SPINDLE
Too few, and you keep having to get up and stick another batch onto the turntable. Too many, and the accumulated lack of friction will slow the disc down and make even Dusty Springfield  sound as she’s flaking out on Mandrax.

HOW TO CLEAN AN AFGHAN COAT
Put it in the launderette and it’ll come out like a wet Kleenex but dry into sheet metal. Dab at it and it’ll come up in blisters. The answer is don’t wash it! It’s supposed to smell! In a year’s time you can put it out in the garden and grow carrots on it.

HOW TO CATCH A ROUTEMASTER BUS
These vehicles had an open back with a pole to hang on to. The technique is to wait till the bus is nearly moving then dash up and lunge at the pole. Your arm will nearly be pulled out of its socket, which is very yogic. When the bus speeds, cling to the pole like a teenager to an iPhone. This is pretty well the only exercise we hippies ever get.

GETTING AN OLD-FASHIONED TV TO WORK
Back in the 60s, we TV watchers are real men. If technology goes wrong, no running blubbing to the support line for us. When the picture folds we just get up and kick the box. One kick for BBC , three kicks for ITV.

OPENING A CAN OF WATNEYS PARTY 7 BEER
My generation aren’t called upon to defuse unexploded German bombs in the streets. But we do have to tackle Watneys Party 7 cans. There are no guaranteed safe techniques. It’s a matter of levering up the pointed opener till it pierces the top and running like hell as the geyser spouts. But even that isn’t as dangerous as drinking the beer….

Monday, 18 March 2013


I Drink Therefore I Am


Beer goes with stuff. This is what writers are discovering.  British writer Pete Brown has entertainingly linked different beers with music. Stephen Beaumont rhapsodically matches ales and food. Never one to allow a bandwagon to remain unjumped-upon, here’s my contribution to this new genre: matching beers with Western philosophers. (And occasionally Eastern ones)

DESCARTES     Has to be Belgian Duvel beer. A glug of its mind-blowingly complex flavours and thumping 8.5% ABV strength induces delirium. Mutter “I think therefore I am” and you’ll regain consciousness quickly for glug no. 2.

GANDHI           A pint of refreshing Nethergate Umbel is ideal after a long hot dusty day’s trudge in your sandals. If yet another punter asks  “Please, Guru, let me sit at your feet while you explain to me your doctrine of non-violence” its moderate 3.9% ABV strength helps you resist the urge to punch them in the mouth.

KARL MARX     What else but Tetley’s Bitter, the ultimate working man’s beer? Medium strength, you’ll be able to knock back a few and still have the volition to storm a palace or two.

NEITZSCHE      The proponent of the Superman deserves nothing less than the world’s strongest beer, Schorschbock 57. If you want to shed your meek Clark Kent persona and turn into the Man of Steel, a stein of this, at atom-splitting 57.5% ABV, is better than popping into a phone booth.

HEGEL             His big idea was the dialectic – a clash of crazy opposites (thesis and antithesis). His beer has to be Belgian Kriek which merges beer and cherries. And leads to the satisfying synthesis of getting you pissed.

ADAM SMITH   the theorist of capitalism with “The Wealth of Nations.” His beer must be         Budweiser. The Busche family, who brew it, maybe aren’t a nation but have   become richer than one.

What do you mean, you’re not a philosopher? Drink more beer! 

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Corporate Blues
An Allegory

I felt like a beer last night and went into a pub. Pouring my pint, the barmaid said

“Wannanysnax? Peennuscristwillets?”

“No snacks thanks”

Then she handed me a receipt. A receipt - in a pub. I then noticed she was wearing a uniform. A logo on her tunic generously told me the company was Oakdene Leisure Inc.

The pub had been corporatized.

As I sat down a young man materialised with a clipboard. “Customer satisfaction survey, sir” he said. “On a scale of 1 to 5,” he said, pointing his pencil between my eyes, “where 1 is ecstatic and 5 is utter despair, how do you rate your Oakdene experience?”

“The woman behind me has a very annoying laugh. So 4.”

“And how do you rate your Oakdene beer?”

“I’m getting some great satirical ideas which probably are nothing like as funny as I think they are. So it’s working fine.”

“I’d like to ask you to rate your Oakdene beer on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is….”

“I know. A minute ago it was 2. Now it’s 5. That’s beer for you.”

A smart woman appeared behind the clipboard man.

“Hello sir, I’m your Oakdene manager. Just to let you know that while you’re relaxing with your beer we have a range of mid-drink entertainment experiences for you. Justin Bieber is available on the muzak, or if you’d prefer smooth classics….”

My response dripped with sarcasm. “Why don’t you just offer me your mid drink swimming pool experience so I can go and drown myself?”

“I was just going to mention the pool, sir. Or perhaps you prefer to take advantage of our executive sauna. And after that, have a drink at our Caribbean themed bar”

“I thought this was a bar!”

Just then a wrecking ball crashed through the wall.  An earthmover cleared away the rubble and an army of workers moved in under a sign “Oakdene Leisure Centre under construction.”

The woman triumphantly ticked a box on her clipboard.

“Not any more it isn’t!”

Friday, 8 March 2013


Me - Living Legend

I am history.

This dawned on me recently, on reading that London’s Geffrye Museum of domestic history now features a 1960s Room. If it’s anything like my boyhood home it’ll be an environmental health hazard, with my mother’s 40 a day Embassy cigarette habit and the noise of me playing Jimi Hendrix LPs at 40 decibels and my dad shouting “Turn that bloody racket down!!”

The V&A museum are displaying David Bowie’s costumes. And a 1970s retro shop has opened in my neighbourhood. I keep popping in hoping they’ll have the Beatles’ second LP which was nicked from my student flat  (if you ever come across it, it has a Kilroy Was Here scribble on the back and 1” ripped out from the cover to act as a butt).

If I am history, I’m not making the most of it. It’s time to capitalise on this. I’m a living resource. I’m going to hire myself out at 60s revival nights, museums, reconstructed 60s streets – anywhere that screams out “This is the way we were then!!”

I’ll sit on a stool outside dressed in a kaftan and buttonhole people as they go in. I’ve already written my script. Here it is:

“Ooooh arrrgh” (This makes no sense but it’s what the punters want) “I remember them days as if it were yesterday. We made our own amusements. We’d sit round the TV watching “Call My Bluff”.  Times were hard but my parents shared tasks: my mum would get up to change the channel and my dad’d kick the set when the picture folded.

I remember when Queen Victoria came to visit…. Hang on, wasn’t it another Queen? My memory  ain’t what it used to be, I’ll need a little refreshment to revive it . Thank you! And if you could stuff a little more into this chillum…..

Where was I? Every Sunday we’d have a little family ritual, sticking on the Co-op Green Shield stamps. After that my mum would dish out the family meal, a great big pan full of Alphabetti Spaghetti. It’s how I learnt how to read. Trouble is , I can only write if I can squidge the letters around.

Off then are you? Before you go, take a blast of this….” 

I put on “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” at full blast on the stereo behind me. Inside, an actor playing my dad yells “Turn that bloody racket down!!!” 

Thursday, 28 February 2013


Smart phone or dumb guy?

We were looking for a restaurant in an unfamiliar area of London and were lost. We’d gone round in circles and I was getting hungry. Then one or our friends fished out her smartphone, got a GPS fix and we found the place in sixty seconds.

For ten minutes I gushed. What a leap forward for humankind this was! No more getting lost. No more failed pub quizzes. All knowledge available at the press of a button (except the crucial info on which button to push).

Then came ordering time. As the waiter hovered our friend dived for her phone again and began picking at it like a woodpecker. “Calorie count” she muttered, “Warm Brie Salad 550, NO!, er, Plate of Charcuterie 800 NO NO NO!!!”  She took a breath, forced a smile and muttered “I’ll have the buckwheat noodles.”

Across the restaurant I could see women checking their phones. A guy on the next table was on his alcohol app. The bottle of Shiraz he fancied was 10.2 units. “Low alcohol lager please” he said, with all the enthusiasm of a schoolboy asked by teacher to read out his homework.

Other people mulled over their exercise app for next morning’s torture to work off the meal. Yet others were checking their bank balances before deciding to slip out and go to Macdonalds instead. Why don’t people turn these machines off? Because they’ve been told to expect a call from their partner. Or if they’re from a younger generation, from their mum.

That’s why I don’t have a smartphone. I like to enjoy my evenings out. If I want to find out where I am or how much I’m drinking, I order another bottle and these things cease to matter completely.
I never saw a phone as lovely as a bottle

But technology catches up with you in the end. Just this morning I finally woke up to the realisation that quill marks on parchment aren’t the best way to submit writing to editors. I took a breath and bought a typewriter. How did I get this stuff onto your screen? Easy – via my pigeon.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


A nice cup of tea

1960s British food was disgusting. An over-fried egg perched on top of a pile of damp chips would be the weekly treat. Coffee was made from dried mud granules mixed with bark. It wasn’t as disgusting as it sounds. It was worse.

We didn’t rise up to hang the ruling class, or at least the TV chefs, because you could get a lovely cup of tea. The tea your mother made. The tea her mother made. Back in Neolithic days the cave-mums had a mantra: “Warm the pot. Pour freshly boiled water over the leaves. Brew for five minutes, put the milk in the cup first, then the tea. Be warmed and refreshed and go out and kill that mammoth.”

Yes, yes!

That’s what my Yorkshire aunt told me, although we didn’t have mammoths any more, which is a shame as they’d have varied our diets and given us a less reeky alternative to the Afghan coat.

London today is full of stylish cafes serving fine food and coffee by young people who are lovely in every respect but one.

Their tea is pee.

At a trendy West End coffee house this morning I asked the barista “Make me a cuppa.” I might as well have said, “Serve me a flagon of Hyperion’s noblest canary, wench,” so I rephrased the question. I forgave her fishing a teabag from a jar, as it’s easier to get a phoenix egg in London than fresh leaf tea. What she did next was to pour hot water from the urn into a mug. Next she splashed a couple of tablespoons of milk into the water.

Then before my eyes she dipped the bag into the cloudy liquid, which turned puce. At a nearby table I saw someone trying to pull their teabag out with the wooden stirrer, and sploshing it on the table. Someone else was drinking their tea with the bag still in the mug.

The Heavens rumbled. A deep voice rang out, “Depraved ones, face your punishment!” The pavement cracked. People screamed.

A mammoth plodded down the street so I rode it up to Yorkshire, where they still know how to make a good cuppa.  
No, no!

Thursday, 14 February 2013


A Baby Boomer’s Tough Childhood


I was conceived that night....

We had it tough when I was a boy. Television? We had to watch a match box with a 3 cm screen. Pictures weren’t in black and white. Just black. But we never complained.

The war had destroyed the food industry and all we had to eat was Cremola Foam. We got so weak that some days we couldn’t even crawl into school.

If we were lucky. At school Matron lined us up and force fed us cod liver oil. On a bad day she would dish out lethal injections. But we didn’t complain.

Mobile phones – you’ve got to be joking. We communicated by lighting beacons. It worked fine for news such as “Napoleon has been defeated” but wasn’t so good for messages like “Get home right now you little bastard, your mum’s having a fit!”

Our dress wasn’t fashionable or sexualised. In fact, under the heavy folds of grey flannel and the bulging satchels, you couldn’t tell the boys from the girls. Babies were created by leaving a scribbled request under the kitchen sink.

But we never complained.

When I was a boy we didn’t spend all day glued to our computer screens. We got our information by being crowded into pens in the snow and being forced to listen while teacher read out the Prayer Book in Latin.

At least it was outside, it was healthy. None of us were obese or had high cholesterol. We just died of pneumonia, a far more virile way to go. And it was alright by us.

These days, of course, the world is in a shocking state. It completely baffles us. And my god, do we complain.


Monday, 11 February 2013


My Obituary. By Me

“My aim in life is to be remembered.” Not my words – they were spoken to me by what’s his name on the other end of my block. They’re my sentiments too, though, so I’ve written out my all-too-often unsung life’s achievements for “The Times” obituary column when I go, which I hope won’t be for some time yet (my bookie feels the same way).

At the age of 13, Tony built the first cellular communication device. Sadly he was legally blocked by the Trade Descriptions Act when he tried to market the 40lb, 3’ by 2’ by 1’ product as a Mobile Phone.

His literary leanings took him to Oxford University. Elected President of the Union, he spoke in the famous debate “This house believes the British should get out of India”. The event happened twenty years beforehand, which did not detract from the truth of his arguments.

Tony Kirwood became a key figure in 1960s Swinging London. He introduced Keith Richards to the (literally) revolutionary reversed strings-next-the-body guitar technique. This was used in “Jumping Jack Flash” - the title referred to Keith’s electrocuted dance.

In the early 1990s Tim Berners-Lee contacted Kirwood in desperation, having hit a mental block trying to invent the World Wide Web. “I just can’t get it to work” said Tim. Tony looked behind the machine and said, “Try putting that plug in”. The rest is history.

Danny Boyle, stuck for ideas for the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, had no choice but to ring Kirwood up for advice.  Boyle’s original concept was for a brass band to play “Floral Dance” while the audience held up cigarette lighters. “It’ll take James Bond to rescue that idea,” said Kirwood.  Boyle replied “You’ve got it!”

Tony Kirwood leaves behind a wife, some baffled relatives and 37 unpaid bills.

Thursday, 31 January 2013


Winter work-outs
Anything's better than painting the ceiling

Baby boomers know that they can’t follow the lifestyle of their twenties. If they did they’d be dead, in prison, or confined to bed all day. OK, that last one seems a pretty attractive option, but some of us are still trying to do stuff.

Public-spirited as ever, this blog is now going to share with you a stress-free, easy daily exercise regime, a great way of keeping fit through the freezing winter. It’s a gentle way of working up to half-marathon running (after which you may well be dead, in prison or confined to bed)

First thing in the morning
Get out of bed. Get back into bed. Get out of bed again. Get back into bed. Repeat until your partner groans “For heaven’s sake, I’ll make  the tea.” Now you have the incentive of a nice hot brew, getting up will be easier.

Mental leaps (mid morning)
Sit on your sofa and imagine doing a series of jumps. If this is a bit strenuous, imagine someone else jumping. When I was at Drama School my method acting teacher told me that thinking was doing. Ever since then, I’ve followed her words avidly.

Horizontal Star Jumps (After Lunch)
These are regulation Star Jumps, but you do them lying down on the carpet. If you’re feeling hard-core, do them face-down.  While you’re down there, you can always look for the contact lens you dropped.

Bath Push-ups (evening)
If you run enough water to hold your body weight, this is a breeze. It’s also an excellent breathing exercise as you struggle to avoid gulping down the soapy brine.

Drinking Very Fast (late evening)
Aerobic boozing is a great workout for the arms, the legs (getting up to the fridge for another can) and the lungs as you bellow even louder at the TV.

Good luck. And if these fail, you can always lie in bed till the spring.

Friday, 18 January 2013


The Blues Ain’t Nothin’ but
Even I couldn't get between Muddy and his fans
In December 1968 I worked in Dobells Blues Record Shop down the Charing Cross Road. I wanted to avoid my Dad’s holiday moans about my long hair but also I was a fanatical Blues convert.

Dobell’s was run by a cheery geezer called Ray. I don’t know why he took me on. Maybe he thought I’d attract the long-haired bespectacled stoned skinny white hippy student geek demographic. Maybe he thought I’d chase everyone into the Jazz Shop next door where he worked.

It was like an alcoholic being put to work in a distillery.  I spent hours listening to “Muddy Waters at Newport” on the headphones in the booth as the queue built up. I’d dash to the counter. 

Irritated shopper: “Have you got ‘Muddy Waters at Newport?’”

“Yeah, er, this one copy left…”

“It looks scratched.”

Picky bastard, I thought.  At least it had been wrecked by a genuine Blues fan.

I’d then have a hazy debate with shopper No. 2 about whether harmonicas are more expressive than guitars, as the queue grew longer.

Sometimes I’d put the wrong LP into the sleeve for someone and they’d come back the next day.

“Look, I asked for Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘The Real Folk Blues’”

“Oh, sorry…. er, can’t find it on the shelf.”

“That’s because you’ve been playing it in the booth.”

When people asked a serious question like “Do you have Sleepy John Estes’ 1935 Brunswick Sessions with Hammie Nixon?” I’d stare at them blankly. Just because I was a fanatic didn’t mean I knew anything.

After three weeks I finally went home to a futile argument with my Dad. But I’d had a rich education in music and Ray one in hippy students.

All this is relevant.  The news is full of the death of High Street shops. People are buying online and are jaded with the store experience.

At last I have a footnote in history. Because, you see, it was me who started the trend.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


The Joy of Vinyl
My original copy. You can hear the scratches from where you're sitting

Last night I moved aside the DVD player, disconnected the VHS, plugged in the turntable and, for the first time in years, I spent a couple of hours listening to our old record collection. Bob Marley, The Beatles, Muddy Waters. Vinyl’s beautiful. It’s one thing about which My Teenage Self and I are in agreement.

MTS:  Hey, don’t push it.

Me:    I’m not. Vinyl has flaws. People who say vinyl’s scratching is just like life’s background noise must share a place with an incurable crisp packet cruncher who thumps the floor every 15 seconds.

MTS:  Yeah, you never did look after the collection.

Me:    Who’s talking – the one who scattered unsleeved LPs on the carpet muttering “Wow, that one’s tooo much”?   No, what’s good about vinyl is the ritual. Dropping the needle cleanly onto the rim was the only eye-hand co-ordination skill I ever gained.

MTS:    Looks like it atrophied pretty quickly.

Me:      Where did you get such long words? I can tell you – and it wasn’t books.

MTS:    What do you mean? I’m doing a literature degree!

Me:      So it definitely wasn’t books. It was LP covers. It was the only reading you did. Apart from cornflake packets and “The Furry Freak Brothers”.

MTS:    “Atrophied” - I got that from LP blurbs?

Me:      Some of those 1960s Jazz LP liner notes used longer words than the solos. And then there was the front covers, the only art appreciation you did for about 15 years. Peter Blake’s “Sergeant Pepper” cover led to Picasso and Goya.

MTS:    God, you’ve got boring.

Me:      I did or you did? No, thanks to vinyl, you kept your tastes intact. Not least, Muddy Waters: “Rollin’ and Tumblin” – it’s still great!

MTS:    It would be if the groove wasn’t stuck. That must have been you.

Me:      Cheeky – it was you.

WE ARGUE UNTIL EXHAUSTED.



Friday, 4 January 2013


Please Please Me…..

They nearly jumped...

So it’s 2013, the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ first LP. By general reckoning this is the year the sixties began, setting the tone for the decade’s notoriously sloppy timekeeping.  But forget all the myths - what really happened during those turbulent years? Here’s another sheet of student pass notes, from someone who swears he was there (well, that’s what my birth certificate tells me)

Things were incredibly cheap in the sixties. A house cost about six pounds twelve shillings and threepence halfpenny. However the pre-decimal currency was so complicated that people were nervous about spending money. The market slumped.

A draconian Government edict of 1967 compelled people to dance on the streets. This gave rise to the famous protest movement, in particular the sit-ins. Anything but dance! The tyrannical law was finally defeated by the lousy weather.

As Philip Larkin said, sexual intercourse was invented in 1963. The inventor was a Middlesborough guy called Darren. He was having too much fun to remember to patent it, and, although the idea caught on like wildfire, he died penniless, ruined by a stack of paternity suits.

Pretty well everything else was invented in the sixties, too. Music, Lycra, Bronco toilet rolls, mumbling and Goldie Hawn. Goldie Hawn has proved very long-lasting and has been kept on, long after anyone can remember what her original purpose was.

The single most significant social development of the sixties was the nylon sock. This led to the invention of the Odoureater and, soon after, the washing machine. The combination of the socks, energetic movement and plastic shoes was toxic. To this day British males hate to dance.

Were we happy then? Decide for yourself but remember: this was the decade when people started landing on the moon….