Saturday, September 26, 2015

Flashback #1 - The best of the Crouch End Tiger

Lunchtime in Frankfurt, leaning gently into a second bottle of crispy white. The old town streets full of Mexican families lapping up the sun, Paraguayan supporters demolishing the biggest pile of chips that you ever did see and English fans scurrying from bar to bar determined to drink another German city dry.

This is the World Cup Semi-Final day and 8 hours from kick-off and the tension is starting to build. Guido, the Italian waiter mutters "Forza Italia" under his breath at every opportunity, whilst Hans his boss urges us to support the hosts. Tiger feigns impartiality with the dreaded words "We are just fans of World football mate!". Both seem happy as Tiger discharges the remnants of the last glass of the third bottle of a cheeky little Chablis and head back. In the car bets are taken.

At the Hotel one of our party is missing, confined to his bed with little more than a wet flannel to save him from a raging fever. Sympathy abounds, our taxi awaits and with Mehmet (Turkeys first ever GP driver) at the wheel, we're off! Dortmund here we come!!

Ten minutes later, allowing for a couple of wrong turns (Mehmet's Co-pilot was not the smartest of chaps), we arrive. The Co-pilot pays the man and then spends four hours haggling over where to meet after the match. Whilst this great meeting of minds takes place, Tiger takes in the moment. The stadium surrounds are awash with thousands of home fans enveloped in newly liberated Bundesflagge. Pockets of Azzurri survey the scene like a fox outside the chicken run. A smattering of delightfully trollied sons of Albion weave their way through the crowds like Peter Crouch through a Brazilian defence (i.e. barging straight through, falling over and being stared at in utter disbelief).

It has to be said that Tiger is not a complete stranger to the world of corporate entertainment. However, even Tiger was staggered at the oppulence of the FIFA corporate village (more like a futuristic space settlement). Is a jacuzzi really necessary? Does every discerning footie fan really need a casino on site? As for full scale flight simulators, well we ask you? Despite all of this frippery, they did serve a fine array of food and more essentially the WW oppoprtunities were plentiful.

After a swift replenishment. Into the impressively long-named stadium and to our seats, which we proceed to stand on for the whole 120 minutes. From kick-off to final whistle the quality of the football is astounding. No aimless hoofing to the 'big fella up front', no misplaced passes or bad first touches. Just quality control, intelligent running and beautifully finessed passing and probing attacks. All at extreme pace. It was a display of real verve and style by both sides and the referee was even better! Ballack (supposedly unfit and slated by the press) gliding between his own defence and the Italian back four prompting the Germans forward. Whilst in response the Azzurri were driven on by the gutsy Gattuso and the peerless priceless Pirlo (Gawd bless ya Mr Keating!).

Penalties looming and a frenzied Italian surge leading to the sublime moment. Lehmann (of the big hands, big head and big ego) kept his team in it until the moment that silences the length and breadth of Deutschland. Fabio Grosso curled a wonderful shot around the outstretched grasp of the despairing Gooner. Cue large scale in-take of breath in the stadium and a small scale explosion of delight in block 2, row 7 seat 136. The true blue colours of the Crouch End Ultra exploded in delirium. "You're not singing anymore...", "I'm going home in a German ambulance", "Come on you Blues" all muttered underneath the breath a la Guido. The Routemaster goal (i.e. wait ages and two come at once - I refuse to call it The BendyBus goal) is driven home by Del Piero. The Italians go wild, the Germans go home and Tiger goes back to the bar .

Following much post match analysis, the handing over of many Euros to the Ultra and a smattering of crispies. We depart to find Mehmet (who is fresh from breaking the Frankfurt-Dortmund land speed record). Despite the fine endeavours of the Co-Pilot, Mehmet is missing, presumably negotiating his next Indy 500 drive. Tiger retires to a Budweiser sponsors party - Well, to tell the truth, Tiger distracted two of the surly bouncer chappies, diverted attention as the team plunged into the midst of the wake. After a couple of Budweisers the need for an alcoholic drink came on strong. Fortunately, Mehmet arrived and before we'd done our seatbelts up we are back in the relative safety of our hotel bar. One more for the Strasse and then off to bed.

Tomorrow has already begun. The sun is already starting to peer round the corners of the curtains in the spartan bedroom. Sitting on the bed Tiger nurses a gentle Italian whilst trying to work out how to get BBC 24 on the tv. All these subtitles are ruining the plot. What a day, what a night, what a match. What on earth are we going to do with the dead body in room 512?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

About the Young Idea

I was delighted to be back, albeit briefly, in London and even more delighted to be able to pop into Somerset House to see the 'About the young idea exhibition' which chartered the rise, fall, rise and ultimate end of The Jam.

From the first glimpse of the stage set (Bingley Hall) to the dazzling array of Rickenbackers, posters, stage clothes etc I was transported back to the days that three blokes from Woking defined a way, a look, an attitude for a generation.

Life is timeless, days are long when you're youngUsed to fall in love with everyone, any guitar and any bass drum...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

TTIMAE - Favourite Football XI

Over the next twelve months we are running a vote for our favourite football players. Starting with our favourite goalkeeper. Please vote on the panel to the right to register your favourite all time 'keeper!

Poll Results - Bands you'd like to reform

1. The Smiths
2. The Jam
3. The Clash (?)
4. Haircut 100
5. The Style Council
6. Oasis

Friday, June 12, 2015

Corner Shop Credit

'Times were so tough, but not as tough as they are now' (Thick as thieves - The Jam).

Dark in the heart of the Thatcher years when the dole was being cut, jobs were hard to come by and the quaint notion of ' Forced Austerity' hadn't been so daintily articulated, times were tough too. £35 to last 2 weeks just wasn't going to happen. Of course cash in hand jobs were taken, deals were done and various nefarious took place!

The only problem then was cashflow. The banks were too rigid and the family was too disappointed to send forth aid (other than the use of the washing machine). So, apart from splitting dole cheques to help budget, the largesse of the local corner shop was the sole means by which people could keep their head above water. The steady supply of Sunblest, anchor butter, newspapers and Marlboro lights was only sustained by the corner shop. Goodness only knows how much money they lost but without them so much more could have been lost....

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Albums no self-respecting gentlemen should own #1 - Bruce Springsteen 'Darkness on the edge of town'

It is 1978, English music has just experienced a schism unlike anything since the Trad v Modernist Jazz wars of the early 60's. On the one hand were the long-haired flare wearing prog championing sixth formers who were still desperately clinging to the crushing tedium of triple album concept artists and the namby-pamby nonsense of 'musicianship'. On the other were the snotty nosed third years whose only desire was to hear songs with swear words in that didn't last more than 2 mins 30 seconds. 

By now The Sex Pistols had been ripped apart, The Clash were navigating their way past their stodgy second album and The Jam had finally found the direction/action/creation they'd been striving for since Weller first heard 'My Generation'. 

Into this mix of discomfort came the lumpen bleatings of a true (according to his fans) blood and guts performer from New Jeresy, namely Mr Bruce Springsteen. Dressed like a cutting room floor reject from Starsky & Hutch. Springsteen shed a touch of 'real(!) realism' with his breakthrough album 'Darkness on the edge of town'. It was touted as true blue collar rock and roll, the middle way through the path of decimation left by the warring Punk & Rawk factions. 

In reality it was (and still unsurprisingly is) one of the most tepid 'significant' albums of the last century. The bag of a fag packet portraits of real life only ever appealed to the emotionally limited grammar school suburbanites who associated everything American as being real and everything else as being somehow substandard. The music was/is truly dull. Springsteen's muscular (read clumsy) approach was justified by the fact that he could play four hour sets. Four hours of the same song. God give me strength! 

In short, 'Darkness on the edge of town' is an over-hyped and under-powered collection of average songs by a distinctly average musician. He may well be a nice bloke but quite frankly who cares.

This album has no place in your record collection!

Johnny Langney - Feb 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

When the Labour Party stood for something of substance...

“At a certain point in their historical lives, social classes become detached from their traditional parties … The particular men who constitute, represent, and lead them, are no longer recognised by their class (or fraction of a class) as its expression.” 

- Antonio Gramsci

Just sayin' 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Moments in Love #4

West End Pub. Buddhist retreat. A day drenched in Sunshine. A night soaked in Champagne...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Moments in love #2

Pillows and cushions on the lounge floor. A movie plays. All the action is off screen.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Moments in love #1

Sitting in Macari's 7:00am. One cup of tea to share. One cigarette to smoke. One thought on my mind.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rainy Sundays

Waking up late to the smell of slightly burnt toast. It is raining outside. Move seamlessly from breakfast to lunch in the time it takes to read the sports sections of the broadsheets. It is raining outside. Bubble & Squeak and mint sauce. Batman, The Big Match. It is raining outside. Light fading. 633 Squadron. It is raining outside. More toast for tea. It is raining outside. Radio Luxembourg 'Street Sounds'. It is raining outside. Back in bed... It is still raining outside.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rain stopped play

Sitting in the pavilion watching the rain sheet down, cutting the square off. Waiting for the umpire to abandon the game and for the celebrations to begin!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Let's all speak palare

I've recently been reading a number of works by the magnificent English poet/writer Jeremy Reed and combined with a recent spell of listening to Julian and Sandy's exploits on 'Round the Horne', I've  been finding Palare creeping back into my lexicon.

According to Wikipedia Palare (or alternatively ParlareParlaryPaloriPalariePalari; from Italian parlare, "to talk") is a form of cant slang used in Britain by actors, circus and fairground showmen, merchant navy sailors, criminals, prostitutes and the gay subculture. It was popularised in the 1960s by camp characters Julian and Sandy in the popular BBC radio show Round the Horne.  There is some debate about its origins, but it can be traced back to at least the 19th century and possibly the 16th century. There is a longstanding connection with Punch and Judy street puppet performers who traditionally used Polari to converse

Be that as it may, here are some bona palare phrases for your perusal...

ajaxnearby (from adjacent?)
alamohot for you/him
aunt nelllisten, hear
aunt nellsears
aunt nelly fakesearrings
aunt nell danglersearrings
barneya fight
basketthe bulge of male genitals through clothes
bitcheffeminate or passive gay man
bijousmall/little (means "jewel" in French)
blagpick up
bluecode word for "homosexual"
bona nochygoodnight (from Italian - buona notte)
bonaroowonderful, excellent
bungerypub, this comes from the English word for the closure on a barrel.
butchmasculine; masculine lesbian
buvarea drink (from Italian - bere or old-fashioned Italian - bevere or Lingua Francabevire)
campeffeminate (possibly from Italian campare "exaggerate, make stand out")
capello/capellahat (from Italian - cappello)
carseytoilet, also spelt khazi
carts/cartsopenis (from Italian - cazzo)
charperto search (from Italian - acchiappare - to catch)
charpering omipoliceman
charverto shag/a shag (sexual intercourse) (from Italian - chiavare)
chickenyoung man
codnaff, vile
cottagea public lavatory used for sexual encounters
cottagingseeking or obtaining sexual encounters in public lavatories
dallysweet, kind. Possibly an alternate pronunciation of dolly.
dilly boya male prostitute
dinarimoney (Latin denarii was the 'd' of the pre decimal penny)
dollypretty, nice, pleasant
donawoman (perhaps from Italian donna or Lingua Franca dona)
dorcasterm of endearment, 'one who cares'. The Dorcas Society was a ladies' church association of the nineteenth century, which made clothes for the poor.
dragclothes, esp. women's clothes (prob from Romani — indraka — skirt; also possibly from German - tragen - v. to wear (clothes))
ecafface (backslang)
eekface (abbreviation of ecaf)
esongnose (backslang)
feele/freely/fillychild/young (from the Italian figlio, for son)
geltmoney (Yiddish)
HP (homy polone)effeminate gay man
jarryfood, also mangarie (from Italian mangiare or Lingua Franca mangiaria)
khazitoilet, also spelt carsey
lallies (lylies)legs
lallie tappersfeet
latty/lattieroom, house or flat
lillypolice (Lilly Law)
lyleslegs (prob. from "Lisle stockings")
luppersfingers (Yiddish — lapa — paw)
mangariefood, also jarry (from Italian mangiare or Lingua Franca mangiaria)
meeseplain, ugly (from Yiddish "meeiskeit, in turn from Hebrew מָאוּס repulsive, loathsome, despicable, abominable)
meshigenernutty, crazy, mental (from Yiddish, in turn from Hebrew מְשֻׁגָּע crazy)
metzasmoney (Italian -mezzi "means, wherewithal")
mincewalk (affectedly)
naffawful, dull, hetero
nantinot, no, none (Italian — niente)
national handbagdole, welfare, government financial assistance
oglelook, admire
omiman (from Romance)
omi-paloneeffeminate man, or homosexual
onknose (cf "conk")
palare pipetelephone ("talk pipe")
park, parkergive
platefeet; to fellate
palonewoman (Italian paglione - "straw mattress", [viz. old Cant "hay-bag" = woman])
remouldsex change
riah/rihahair (backslang)
riah zhoosherhairdresser
rough tradea working class or blue collar sex partner or potential sex partner; a tough, thuggish or potentially violent sex partner
scarperto run off (from Italian scappare, to escape or run away or from rhyming slang Scapa Flow, to go)
scotchleg (scotch egg=leg)
screechmouth, speak
sharpypoliceman (from — charpering omi)
sharpy polonepolicewoman
shushsteal (from client)
shush baghold-all
shyker/shycklewig (mutation of the Yiddish sheitel)
sohomosexual (e.g. "Is he 'so'?")
stimpcoversstockings, hosiery
toberroad (a Shelta word, Irish bóthar)
todd (Sloanne)alone
tootsie tradesex between two passive homosexuals (as in: 'I don't do tootsie trade')
tradesex, sex-partner, potential sex-partner
trollto walk about (esp. looking for trade)
vada/varderto see (from Italian — dialect vardare = guardare - look at)
vardered — vardering
vera (lynn)gin
voguecigarette (from Lingua Franca — fogus - "fire, smoke")
vogueressfemale smoker
yews(from French "yeux") eyes
zhooshstyle hair, tart up, mince
(Romani - "zhouzho" - clean, neat)

zhoosh our riah — style our hair

Polari Omies and palones of the jury, vada well at the eek of the poor ome who stands before you, his lallies trembling.—taken from "Bona Law", a Round The Horne sketch written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The British & Irish Lions

As the tension begins to rise, I cast my mind back to 1971 and the exploits of King Barry and the rest of the Lions as they saw off the brutally efficient All Black to secure tour victory. What a team, what a tour!

The Lions won the first test in Dunedin 9–3, with a penalty goal to the All Blacks, and two penalties and a try, (scored by Ian McLauchlan) to the Lions. Several Lions players later admitted they were overconfident following their initial test victory. The Lions were hence convincingly beaten 22–12 in the second test in Christchurch, with the All Blacks outscoring them five tries (Bob Burgess (2),Sid GoingIan Kirkpatrick, pen try) to two (Davies (2)). The third test match was played at Athletic ParkWellington. The Lions did not make the same mistake they had in Christchurch, resulting in a 13–3 win, the Lions scored two converted tries and a drop goal. The All Blacks managed only a try.
Following the third test the Lions led the series 2 - 1. The final game played in Auckland would require an All Black victory for New Zealand to draw the series. A draw or Lions victory would give the Lions a series win. Scores were level 8–8 at half time with a try, conversion and penalty each. The first 15 minutes of the second half saw the Lions land a penalty goal and the All Blacks score a try. With the scores tied 11–11, Lions fullback JPR Williams received the ball 45 metres out and attempted a drop goal, it was successful and put the Lions ahead 14–11. Williams' drop goal was the only one he ever landed in his test career. The All Blacks could only manage three further points from a penalty to draw the game and give the Lions the series.
Let us hope that this tour of Australia delivers equal levels of skill, tension, courage, commitment and success! 

Poll Results - What would you rather your team win?

  1. Local Derby
  2. Nothing else matters...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Eric Ravilious

Eric William Ravilious (22 July 1903 – 2 September 1942) was an English painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver. He grew up in Sussex, and is particularly known for his watercolours of the South Downs. He served as a war artist, and died when the aircraft he was on was lost off Iceland.
Ravilious was born on 22 July 1903 in Churchfield RoadActon, London. While he was still a small child the family moved to Eastbourne in Sussex, where his parents ran an antique shop.
He was educated at Eastbourne Grammar school (weren't we all?). In 1919 he won a scholarship to Eastbourne School of Art and in 1922 another to study at the Design School at the Royal College of Art. There he became close friends with Edward Bawden and, from 1924, studied under Paul Nash. Nash, an enthusiast for wood engraving, encouraged him in the technique, and was impressed enough by his work to propose him for membership of the Society of Wood Engravers in 1925, and helped him to get commissions.
In 1925 he received a travelling scholarship to Italy and visitied FlorenceSiena, and the hill towns of Tuscany. Following this he began teaching part-time at the Eastbourne School of Art, and from 1930 taught (also part-time) at the Royal College of Art. In the same year he married Eileen Lucy "Tirzah" Garwood (1908-1951) also a noted artist and engraver. Between 1930 and 1932 the couple lived in Hammersmith, London, where there is a blue plaque on the wall of their house at the corner of Upper Mall and Weltje Road. In 1932 they moved to rural Essex where they initially lodged with Edward Bawden at Great Bardfield. In 1934 they purchased Bank House at Castle Hedingham, and a blue plaque now commemorates this. They had three children: John Ravilious; the photographer James Ravilious; and Anne Ullmann, editor of books on her parents and their work.
In 1928 Ravilious and Bawden painted a mural at Morley College in South London on which they worked for a whole year. Their work was described by J. M. Richards as "sharp in detail, clean in colour, with an odd humour in their marionette-like figures" and "a striking departure from the conventions of mural painting at that time". It was destroyed by bombing in 1941. In 1933 Ravilious and his wife painted murals at the Midland Hotel in Morecambe. Ravilious engraved more than four hundred illustrations and drew over forty lithographic designs for books and publications during his lifetime. His first commission, in 1926, was to illustrate a novel for Jonathan Cape. He went on to produce work both for large companies such as the Lanston Corporation and smaller, less commercial publishers, such as the Golden Cockerel Press (for whom he illustrated an edition of Twelfth Night), the Curwen Press and the Cresset Press.

His woodcut of two Victorian gentlemen playing cricket has appeared on the front cover of every edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack since 1938. Hiis style of wood-engraving was greatly influenced by that of Thomas Bewick. In the mid-1930s he took up lithography, making a print of Newhaven Harbour for the "Contemporary Lithographs" scheme, and a set of full-page lithographs for a book called High Street, with text by J. M. Richards. In 1936 Ravilious was invited by Wedgwood to make designs for ceramics. His work for them included a commemorative mug to mark the coronation of Edward VIII, the "Boat Race" bowl and the "Garden" series of plates, in which each size of plate showed a different plant. Production of Ravilious' designs continued into the 1950s, with the coronation mug design being posthumously reworked for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. Apart from a brief experimentation with oils in 1930 – inspired by the works of Johan Zoffany – Ravilious painted almost entirely in watercolour.

He was especially inspired by the landscape of the South Downs around Beddingham. He frequently returned to Furlongs, the cottage of Peggy Angus. He considered that his time at Furlongs "...altered my whole outlook and way of painting, I think because the colour of the landscape was so lovely and the design so beautifully obvious ... that I simply had to abandon my tinted drawings". Some of his most famous works, such as Tea at Furlongs, were painted there.
Writer Geraldine Bedell: - "his painting was influenced by his design. His elegant watercolours, with their stipples, hatching and drastically simplified shapes, are instantly recognisable. And he maintained his artistic identity when he became a war artist. - His work is light of touch, elegant, and hugely pleasurable."
Ravilious was appointed an official war artist in 1940, with the rank of Honorary Captain in the Royal Marines. During that year he painted at the Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham and Sheerness; sailed to Norway and the Arctic on board HMS Highlander, which was carrying out escort duties, and painted submarines at Gosport and coastal defences at Newlyn. In 1941 he spent six months with the navy at Dover, then transferred to Scotland in October. He spent much of 1942 at various R.A.F. bases, before being posted to Iceland in August.

He was killed on 2 September 1942 while accompanying a Royal Air Force air sea rescue mission off Iceland that failed to return to its base.

Marmite on Toast

When all was done & busted, all was said and forgotten, the ultimate breakfast pleasure was Marmite on thick white toast with reservoirs of Anchor (no other brand would do). Nothing could beat it.

And then they brought out Marmite XO...

How good is it? It tastes like Marmite used to. It is that bloody good. It conjures up memories of Botham's Ashes, bunking off school with the girl who lived over the roundabout and late night sorties after Ziggy's. It is that good!

A thousand runs before the end of May

Whilst the first round of the county championship and the occasional opening friendly against one of the two universities were usual either snowed off or at least buried beneath an avalanche of football results. By the time late May has eased into view everyone has got the hang of the idea - the cricket season has started!

In those early games at least one batsman hits a rich vein of form that propels them onto the back pages and either gets them spoken of as a possible test contender or more often as being on track to beat the end of May cut-off to reach a thousand runs - the batsman's Holy Grail. This year's contender is England tyro Joe Root, who despite a fine century for England at Headingly will fall short as so many do.

Whether someone does manage to make it to 1,000 runs before June appears on the numerous desk calendars of the 18 counties is irrelevant really. The important thing is the game is back. The summer game full of its monotony and exhilaration, with its inevitable rhythm and the occasional jarring interjection (a hat-trick or barrage of sixes), with its long lunches and short spells, hectic run chases and moments of blissful tranquility is back. And thus all is well in the world!