‘Grim’ Doesn’t Cover It Frankly.

I hate the north of England, its damp and cold and the people who infest the place are often as miserable as the weather. There exists the sort of misplaced pride in an accident of being born to a geographic location, which is an attempt to inject something near romantic and positive into the whole shameful rigmarole of being a ‘Northerner’. To be northern is to be often pigheaded, oafish and proud of it. To be quietly racist over greasy chip butties on barms as you watch Corrie whilst dreaming of the chance of being loudly racist abroad in Benidorm; all the sun and the chance to export the unique misery of Northerness to the European mainland. To be suspicious of change, distrustful of otherness and jealous of success should it show up your own failings, to look at the rest of the country and judge it wanting whilst knowing deep down you live in a toilet of a post industrial wasteland now only fit to be colonised by southern yuppies who work in Media City or commute to a London they could never hope to afford to live in.

Still though, now we have the new electric trains making it easier to get from one point of cultural distress to another.

We often had the pop bands but we squandered those brief moments in the cultural sun and now wallow in a pathetic retrospective coolness, ‘yes that was once the Hacienda now its flats’ & ‘yes I know the cavern was rebuilt’ and even on those rare moments when we might not have created a movement we appropriated it as our own. Where were you when the Pistols played the Lesser Free Trade Hall? Seemingly simply everyone who was anyone in punk and indie or more importantly who went onto to become a talking head for hire for BBC4 documentaries was there.

We once led the way in industry but at the cost of the happiness and the health of the people crammed into rows of identical terraced housing and often to the cost of the other poor subjects of the benign British Empire. When we weren’t exploiting imperial trade monopolies our finest Georgian cities were often built on the abject misery from the the trade in humanity, the bricks paid for each by the sale of a human life, the mortar metaphorically mixed with the blood of slaves the trade in which we did more than most to expand and exploit. Many famous street names still attest to the shameful past although every now and then there goes up a cry to rename them. More possibly in an attempt to cover up the past, try to hide our forebears racism for the tourists braving the place than to actually acknowledge or accept the guilt of history.

We huddle in the myth that being Northern somehow makes us more poetic, more honest and more ‘real’ than our southern cousins it doesn’t, we’re just as bad as the rest but we gave the world the Beatles and Bennett so there.

To be Northern is to be reliant upon parkas for protection, to be northern is to be primate near feral natives counterpart to the ‘civilised’ South, to be Northern is to carry one chip on your shoulder whilst buying a chip supper and to holiday in the rain with rabid hen parties and startled donkeys on a glass and turd ridden beach.

Book Lovers

Now despite not having had a GF or a serious relationship in a more than a few years (this is down apparently more to me being inept at reading the signals of when someone is keen, or so I’ve been repeatedly told by my female friends who seem more clued up than I am) I’m far from bitter or angry when others display their loved up gooey courting ways about town, nothing is more likely to get me going “aww, bless them” than the sight of a young couple happily canoodling on a bench, holding hands and especially such softie things as one of them brushing the hair out of their true love’s face. I love it and it reaffirms my faith in people in an odd way to see that romance and just dating is still going on… even if it is without me.

To be honest it would be hell if it was any other way, can you imagine living life if I was embittered by every sight of a couple being happy or showing open displays of affection? I’d probably expire with the sheer rage within one sunny hot week’s walk through the park.

Also if like me you like to buy your reading materials from second hand shops, book stalls and charity shops chances are you’ll come across a few loved up, well meant dedications scrawled in the front-peice by some lad or lady to their potential lover. I picked up one such book yesterday. It looked almost brand new and until the div behind the counter almost broke the spine with his retard strong grip as he looked for the price it was pretty mint and had probably never even been opened to be read in the slightest since it was first purchased from Waterstones. I got the distinct impression it had lived in a drawer or on a shelf for a few years.
The book is a Kim Newman penned fantasy collection set in the world of Games Workshop’s ‘Warhammer’ which to the uninitiated is not too dissimilar to countless other Fantasy genre knock off worlds inspired by the ravings of Tolkien, but in Newman’s case with more than a hint of humour and wit than the average effort. The book is titled Genevieve after its heroine whose Vamperic adventures it collects into one doorstop sized volume.


Inside was a hand written dedication which read:

‘To Kirsty,
Genevieve is a beautiful, powerful, resourceful and courageous (crossed out and written in again with the correct spelling) vampire.
You lack only one of these qualities.
Love Ben

Now this goes some way to proving what a soft arsed old fashioned romantic I am as despite not having any real proof of this I immediately conjured up an image of some love sick lad at college in love with a Goth chick (we all had a Goth crush at college surely?) and who had bought her this gift in a vein (is that a poss. Vampire pun?) attempt to woo her by showing that he shares and can cater for her Vampire based hobbies and interests. Whoever Kirsty is I have an image of her looking at her gift, smiling for a moment, reading the back blurb and then casting it aside instead for her dog-eared copy of Kerrang (stolen from the student councillors waiting room!) all to the backing of some terrible doom laden Screamo.


Eventually the book finds its way into a rarely used ‘odds n’ sods’ drawer and when she leaves for university it’s given away to charity by her parents clearing out her old room to turn into a home office.  And poor Ben, poor heartbroken Ben, choses to live with the idea that she might have read it and might have loved it but just simply forgot to mention the fact as she tactfully avoided his gaze on the college bus home… although in the back of his mind festers the more likely scenario that she hated it and thought him an imbecile for even thinking it was an appropriate gift for such a serious and intellectually mature Goth-Emo-Person, whilst forever never knowing the simple and cruel truth she just dumped it in a sock drawer with several Beanie Babies and then passed it on to charity.

I bet it haunts him still to this day.

Of course like I say have no actual proof that any of this happened but if it did then I’d recommend that the next time he writes a heartfelt dedication in a book to a girl then Ben probably best not just nick an entire paragraph wholesale from the back cover but maybe try coming up with his own heartfelt bollo?

By Crom!… is that the time?

Well, another late night threatened to loom for me when I spotted that on Film Four one of my all time favourite films from my dubious childhood viewing habits was on TV. 1982’s wonderfully daft muscle-bound fantasy romp set in time immemorial ‘Conan The Barbarian’. I have a fair few guilty pleasures in life but one of my worst is probably my affection for these sorts of Sword & Sorcery nonsense movies full of saucy scenes and bloody revenge (which I can’t help thinking as guilty pleasures go is much better than smoking or drinking I suppose). I don’t think Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever been as good as he is slaughtering his way through the pre-Biblical flood set world of Conan’s Hyborian Age.


Its just so much better than the truly terrible 2011 ‘reboot’ in almost every single way from special effects, plot, cast and to the seemingly huge scale of the set pieces, for some unknown reason the newer Conan looked far more like it had been made with costumes and on sets more suited to TV shows like Xena or Hercules. Also I struggle to recall a single thing about the 2001 effort whilst my mind is chockfull of useless snippets & scenes from the 1982 version, both also seem to have vastly different lengths with the 1980s Conan seemingly going on forever in true epic style and the later Conan whizzing past my eyes in a headache inducing CGI laden race to plough through the plot. In reality both movies aren’t too far apart in run time with 1982’s Conan running at 129 minutes and 2011’s at 113 minutes.

The 1982 original has even aged better despite the cast having some very 1980s hair dos and the two burly henchmen in the service of James Earl Jones’ baddie looking more than a little like the two guys from ABBA on steroids… also Conan’s warrior love interest does look to my eyes a little bit (just a tad mind you) like Jane from Rod, Jane & Freddy fame.
The other trouble is I watch this film and the next thing I know I’m restarting my way through Skyrim!

Thankfully though I realised it was far far too late to stay up to watch even this classic and instead retired to bed with my slippers on, a book in one hand and a hot chocolate in the other casting a very un-barbarian like figure as I did so.

Manic Pixie Dream Police

BT Police

One of the few places in the city that you’re guaranteed to see police actually doing something akin to patrolling is on the Railway station, good old fashioned British transport Police are usually highly visible and in their custodian helmets often look far more like genuine police officers than their high street counterparts who for the last ten years have been busily engaged in hanging ever more and more militaristic looking gear from their black webbing belts and donning ever more ‘tactical’ American looking SWAT inspired black clothing so as to now resemble something more akin to gendarmes than approachable Bobbies (which is just one of the many reasons I suspect that a greater level of suspicion & divide exists between the mainstream public and the police now.) If you want to see some law enforcement personal who actually look something like the sort of Police we had been used to seeing in this country then apart from the BT Police it’ll probably be the Community Support Officers who look the least threatening and who seemingly are more engaged in old fashioned boots on the beat community policing efforts nowadays. So negative have reviews been to the current military image of the police in many forces that one banned their officers from wearing the jet black shirts which had been previously favoured by the ARUs and instead they continued to wear the more traditional white shirts for a time.

police uniform shirt changes

Anyway, its an odd comfort seeing BT Police stood guard, they also seem far more approachable for such daft tourist/commuter enquires as where the nearest cash machine to the station might be or even the current time and directions. Although yesterday I found their sheer numbers more perturbing than a comfort, something seemed to be up and we had Transport cops patrolling the station environs and standing guard in pairs at all the entrances with grim faces and arms folded.

This image of stern unblinking taciturn professionalism was rather ruined somewhat by one female police officer sporting a faded orangey/red Mohawk haircut with her uniform… maybe I’m old fashioned but c’mon, surely having a Mohawk haircut is slightly going outside the norms of uniform regulations and being taken seriously? Also if you’re the sort of person who enjoys having a brightly coloured Mohican or variants of punky hair-dos then what the heck are you doing in the police force anyway? I seriously doubt she was bringing it down from within…

Given the choice; in any sort of dire emergency I’d much rather be making a bee line to the lowly Community Support Officer bod than any cop I spot with a f**king crazy coloured ‘funky’ hair cut!
Jesus people, show some bloody professionalism in appearance. I mean what are you? A Manic Pixie Dream Cop or something? If there’s one place where a ‘kooky’ outlook and an idiosyncratic approach to hair styling is not needed its in the police force surely?

Bloody bad enough when pictures of that Hipster copper with the waxed beard started turning up.

For interest here are the offical regulation concerning hair for one force in the UK, most Police Forces have their own but all seem pretty similar and that includes those for the BT Police:

‘4.4.1 Hair.
It should be clean, neat and tidy. It should be worn so that it is cut or secured above the collar and ears and presents a professional image. Hair motifs, colour, patterns and extreme styles are not appropriate and should not prevent the wearing of headgear.’

So again I wonder how she managed to get away with a brightly dyed mohawk? Sorry to be a party-pooper.

Tsk indeed frankly.


The World Of Hip Hop Home Improvement

When did aging Rappers start hosting DIY reality shows?

Ice drilling like a bad ass mo'fo

I’ve seen several adverts for a few shows which strike me as odd for having their hosts drawn only from the hip-Hop world without any actual back story or explanation as to why these men (they’re all men) should be judge, jury and executioners when eyeing up other people’s efforts. Have they run out of cribs and cars to Pimp that they’ve had to shift their focus to home improvement?

The latest one I noticed is described as being a ‘reality furniture design competition’ of all bloody things (I mean doesn’t that just speak of life in the mean Hood) and is hosted by the Rapper ‘Common’ whose only experience of furniture is apparently his need to occasionally sit down on it. There was one on the air recently featuring Vanilla Ice in which he marshalled a small army of hard hatted goons to landscape some ‘dawgs’ or ‘Homie’s’ garden, Monty Don he was not. I can’t help thinking whoever commissions these slot fillers is just biding their time until MC Hammer caves and agrees to do one, he is after all the only logical Rapper of choice for anything DIY based.

Thankfully it hasn’t yet made the transition over here as the idea of watching Tim Westwood putting up some IKEA units in his spare room or members of the So Solid Crew building a potting shed from scratch on a damp allotment would be tedium made incarnate – but in a world of TOWIE based shite on TV maybe it would do well?

I should also add that I take great comfort in the fact that my ‘street’ level knowledge of UK Hip Hop is hopelessly outdated (as it should be for any middle aged, middle class guy who hails from the leafy suburbs) that I had to go and Google up the name So Solid Crew as my mind kept drawing blanks, alas Mr Westwood and his work is known to me.

MC Hammer in a toolbox for an advert proving he will make use of his name for monetary gain

(BTW does anyone else think ‘Homie’ sounds a bit like an old Polari word from Round The Horne?)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...