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

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.....