Monday, 29 June 2009

Up Against The Wall VI.

Prick Me Pussyjack, originally uploaded by mithering.

More surreal crudity. This time from the village of Moira in South Derbyshire. Click on the image for full text. Is it a message for Jack? Is it a message for Pussyjack? Is it a message from Moira herself? In some way it put me in mind of The Scottish Play.

James - If Things Were Perfect - Live in 1985

Just to remind myself how good James once were in a low-budget Indie, hi-life guitar, singing like a little kid trying to sing like a big kid kind of way. How tight. Pre-Ja t-shirts, pre-major label, pre-strident, pounding stadium rockers. Sit down and admire that knitware.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Up Against The Wall V.

Big Giant Poo Stain., originally uploaded by mithering.

Poetry in motion. 'Big Giant Poo Stain'. Just off Swan Street, near The Band on the Wall, Manchester.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Fire Engines - Big Gold Dream

I've not posted a video for a while, so here's Edinburgh's finest, The Fire Engines or firengines or Fire Engines, depending upon how you're feeling that day. They weren't on telly much - this is from BBC2 music and arts programme Riverside back in February 1982, and it was possibly their only appearance on network television. I was just 18 and this was at the arse end of The Fire Engines stay with us.

Previous to this they'd released the spiky Get Up and Use Me on their own Codex Communications label, followed by instrumental mini-LP 'Lubricate Your Living Room' (it came in a carrier bag because it was PRODUCT) and their alternate universe number one hit 'Candyskin'.

I was living in Grantham, Lincolnshire, when 'Candy Skin' came out and there was a small independent (not in its current musical sense, more owner-run) record shop situated in what was known locally as 'Wide Westgate'. (It was where Westgate got wide, of course, and was the counterpoint to 'Narrow Westgate'. We're not talking about Fifth Avenue here, we're talking about a street you could almost hop the length of, but the distinction was always made).

Anyhow, when 'Candyskin' came out I was in the shop when they opened the delivery and I got them to put it on. Now, bear in mind we're talking about two middle-aged women here, one of whom was wearing a Johnny Logan 'What's Another Year?' promotional sweatshirt. I saw the look in their eyes when they heard 'Candyskin', by the angular, obtuse, arty (the cliches that launched the career of many post-art school bands) Fire Engines. I saw that they could see the merit of it, that there was life beyond Eurovision, and I thought that was it, The Fire Engine were going to go on and become huge.

Which of course they didn't. My point? None, really, beyond the capacity for a good tune to transcend its genre and trappings and make a woman in a Johnny Logan sweatshirt smile.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

In Heaven (The Lady In The Radiator song).

Not the greatest photograph I ever took, but the last time I attempted to blog on this subject I used somebody else's YouTube content, pressed the 'blog this' button, spent a not inconsiderable amount of time writing, pressed send... and nothing. Into the white.

So, this time, playing it safe, I've used a picture I took myself, last July, of the actual spot where I saw it. In case you're wondering why I took this picture of an indiscriminate part of the Irwell, well the tiny grey smudge near the far right of the greenery is a grey heron with its wings spread out, as if it's taking the applause of the river.

Anyway, I've tested this with a few people I know. The types who know I'm not a bullshitter. The types who know, colour-blindness aside, my eyesight is, to quote my dear dead Dad, "like that of a shit-house rat'. The types who know I say what I see, without any prompting from Roy 'Catchphrase' Walker. I've mulled it over, I've rolled it around in my head, I've even tried blogging it a couple of weeks back.

It was the afternoon of The Big Cup Final back in May. A Wednesday. Too eager to get home and enjoy the feast of football which was due to be served up I logged off my computer prematurely and found myself with half an hour to kill before the last Village Bus left Shudehill Interchange at 17.26. I decided I would take the scenic route in order to do a tiny bit of birdwatching.

So, across Bridge Street and left onto the footbridge which takes Inland Revenue Staff and the odd confused foreign tourist over The Irwell into Salford. Right along the river, keeping my eyes open for something. Anything. Nothing but boring bastard black-headed gulls on the mither for food.

Up the steps and left down Blackfriars Road onto the scrag-end of Chapel Street, right towards the old Victoria Bus Station, then right again up the hill and over the river again. Look right, back towards where I'd come from, as a heron sometimes fishes under Blackfriars Bridge, commuters and shoppers passing oblivious over his head. Nothing.

So up and left, opposite the Cathedral. Further round to the left than the view in the photo above, which was taken on the approach to the car park where Exchange Railway Station used to sit. Bear in mind I'm a pretty happy bunny at this point - off to watch his team play in the European Cup Final, with two days off work in front of him. (Just in case). Anyhow, I pause again and look over the metal fence, down towwards Victoria Bus Station where we used to come into town on the 95 bus from Broughton. Back in the day. Still nothing. Time to kill. I notice a grey wagtail and begin to follow its progress around the banks, eyes left, eyes right.

Then, in the water I spot a large fish. I'm intrigued. I've seen fish jumping in the river several times, but they were small and silver. This is much larger. I watch its movements for a few seconds until it's head comes up. Ah, a rat. Not seen one in the river since I used to go down The Landslide in the 70s. It's a bloody big one, though. I carry on tracking it until it reaches the bank you can see in the photograph (although there was less of it, the river being higher). Out it comes. It's not a rat. No rat-like tail, no pointed head, no ratty little ears.

It's an otter. Long, bendy and with the tail of an otter.

The otter, my otter, ran along the bank and headed behind the greenery in the photograph. I exclaimed, I grinned, I high-fived myself. I blinked, I doubted, I watched the spot for as long as I could and then I headed off to get the bus.

At home I hit the books, the internet and the descriptions of things that it might have been. The closest thing was a mink. It wasn't a mink. The shape was wrong, the tail was wrong. It was an otter.

In the end, losing to Barcelona carried no shame. They're sort of fan-owned, they play attractive attacking football and they're not Chelsea. Which is nice.

The football went wrong, but I had my otter to keep me warm.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Another One Bites The Dust.

I've had some interesting stuff from this place over the years, mainly obscure and out of print VHS tapes and the odd morsel of indie or punk vinyl. Episodes of Spectreman, Godzilla films, even an uncut copy of John Waters' Female Trouble. The vinyl was more of a problem - seven inch singles were often adrift of their sleeves and given a burnishing by the grit of Church Street. A single by The Pop Rivets, Billy Childish's first band, and much desired, had to be abandoned as it was so scratched the sound of an egg frying would have dominated. On a positive note, I did pick up the one and only single put out by Kevin Rowlands' punk band, The Killjoys, and then moved it further up the food chain via an eBay transaction with an enthusiastic fan in Japan.

It was never a place for spectacular finds like Rare Records (Damn the IRA and their shitty fucking bomb) or Paramount Books during the time when they were buying in amazing stuff and selling it at a pound an LP (Scott Engel's 'Scott 4', Big Black's 'Sound of Impact' and Neil Young's 'After The Goldrush' on vinyl in the same day made Lester Sands a happy boy), but it was there and it was steady, and there was always the chance that something might turn up.

Now, it's set to close. I don't think it's a Recession Thing, more that the bloke who runs it is getting on and I don't think there's the money in crap porn DVDs there used to be.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Up Against The Wall IV

This particular piece of Salford graffiti is perhaps where my interest in stupid and ineffectual wall-daubings began. From what I remember, it was added in the mid-70s when I lived a couple of streets away. There used to be steps and an opening on the right, so this was a shortcut from home (Wellington Street West) or my maternal grandparents house (Kipling Street) to the papershop or the Chinese Chippy whose backyard is to the left of this image.

There was a 70s porn star, reputed to have a particularly large member, called Long Dong Silver and I've always assumed that this was a joke on that. Although, as with most of the other graffiti I've posted, you have to wonder why somebody went out of their way to paint it on a wall.

When I moved back to Salford in the late 80s it was obscured by wall-climbing plants. For all I knew, it had gone forever. That's the nature of graffiti - 'Victoire Vietnam' on the side of The Manchester Tennis and Racquet Club is slowly slipping away, 'Heath Out!' near the tip the other side of Drinkwater Park has vanished behind brambles for the time being, and 'Anita Hepburn Is A Coppers Nark' has been cleaned up.

Then, about a year ago I was passing the site and saw that the buddleia or ivy or whatever it was had been cleared away. Why, I don't know. Another fan of 1 Ball King Dong desperate for a nostalgia fix? Either way, there it was again, in its full glory. 1 Ball King Dong. I'd been meaning to get a picture of it since then, but the only time I passed it was in the car and I kept forgetting to take the camera, or forgetting to ask the driver to stop, or not having enough time to stop, snap and go get the kids.

Recently, though, I've taken up an interest-free loan from work in order to buy a bike. It's been liberating, and my route of choice into work takes me through my old territory. Down streets I've passed along so many times you could take a swab from them and clone me from the DNA. It was a natural to pop a camera in my bag and head there. There's a locked gate across the bottom of the entry now, so I couldn't get as close as I wanted, but I did manage to squeeze the lens through and get my shot.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Pictures of Match Stick Men Remixed

I posted this picture and two others from outside The Black Lion hotel back in January. Cycling past today I saw it was boarded up with corrugated iron. I used to go in there a few years ago, playing pool and boozing at dinner time with a friend who used to work in the tax office round the corner. Last time I was in there was during In The City, to see The Raveonettes. They were shite, and I was drunk, so I heckled. If I had been them I would have shown me my arse, but they let me be. The room upstairs was good, though. Round, with a high ceiling. Now, it may never see light again. Two years ago it would have been redeveloped into flats, without a doubt, but now? Who knows?

Madison Time.

Louis and Paul, originally uploaded by mithering.

I've not posted here as much as I'd like to have done recently. One reason is that I've been dead busy; work is getting heavier, and I've been working on a project which deadened my thoughts for a while. There's also the fact of writing a very long blog post attached to somebody else's You Tube content only to find it never made it from You Tube to Blogger. Shit. That's linked to a rod I made for my own back by worrying about temporal consistency within the blog. I was not adding some things, even though they were interesting, because their timeline was either too far in the past to fit my restrictive notion of 'news', or because their time had not yet come in the timeflow of the blog.

So I'm posting this to say To Hell With That. I'll be posting more randomly from now on. More to come.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Chewing Gum Wrapper

Pirate Treasure., originally uploaded by mithering.

Faded plenty and corroded some,
I saw the chewing gum wrapper,
I picked it up just like a bum,
Cruddy little, cruddy little, cruddy little thing;
Full of dirt and it was full of grit,
I saw the chewing gum wrapper;
But colors like that you can't git,
Cruddy little cruddy little cruddy little cruddy little.

Jonathan Richman's hymn to the aesthetic qualities of rubbish appeals to me greatly. Out in Heaton Park with The Kids on Saturday we happened upon this archaeological find. A fragment from a Walkers Crisps packet from the time after the clear window in the front had vanished, but before the advent of foil and the current logo. So when does that date it from? I should ask Paul Heaton, who I interviewed once, in his terraced house in Hull and, on hearing of my interest in 'trash' aesthetics, introduced me to his collection of crisp packets. All neatly flattened and placed in a convenient drawer; tactile evidence of ancient potato and maize-based commerce from around the globe. I wonder if he still has them?