Friday, June 17, 2011

All Men Are Liars

Not much of interest has happened in the last week. Villa managed to get themselves a new manager, but it was all a bit low key and uncontroversial, so you probably never heard about it.

Enough has been said already (most of it idiotic, to be honest), so there's no need for me to dwell on it, but, as you might expect, there are a couple of points I would like to share.

Villa fans; I have always felt sorry for them, and I still do, the poor, deluded, arrogant fools. We Blues fans have always tolerated their irrational, grandiose sense of self worth and superiority with a wry smile, and thanked the good lord above that he allowed us to be born on the right side of the tracks. Now the rest of the footballing nation has seen them for the planks they are. They won't be as tolerant as us. This is the best close season ever. I can't remember laughing so much.

Morals; This doesn't reflect on Eck or Villa so much. Although they are the actors in this case, it reflects on the dubious ethics of every fucker involved in football, because they are all the same, in the end.

Eck should have been down on his knees thanking the Blues for not sacking him, after what we endured last season, and half the season before, and the season before that, and most fucking definitely the half season before that. I don't buy into all this lachrymose bollocks about him giving us the best day of our lives,  I have had loads of fantastic days with the Blues; that cup game was just another one, of many. OK. Not many.

Eck was not grateful though. Not only was he not grateful, he was fucking impertinent! That's all I'm saying on it.

Mark Hughes left Fulham, with everyone believing that he was going to Villa. Villa said, no he ain't, and didn't contradict all the national media that said it was because they didn't like the way he did it, because it was all a bit underhand. Then, after many rejections and humiliations, Villa approached Mclaren, only to unapproach him when the fans expressed a distaste for his obsession with combing his hair. Then they go for Eck, a man who showed a distinct lack of moral fibre in the way he resigned and whom the fans clearly hate. Go. Fucking. Figure.

It's obvious Eck was tapped up. God knows why. Apart from all the caterwauling, the best news is that Eck will take them down. Ask any psychologist. The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

Now, I'm not a child and I'm not stupid. I don't actually care that Eck was tapped up. It amuses me though, that Villa can come over all high and mighty and perch themselves on top of the highest horse, whilst acting like  the sneakiest of opportunist pilferers. They have always been a bunch of hypocritical cunts though, so it come as no great surprise.

We Blues fans don't get off scot free though. Until last Sunday it was virtual sacrilege to criticise Eck, now, everyone is saying good riddance to the clueless, negative fucker. We had a good spell last season, a record breaking spell, and everyone was beside themselves with our brilliant team and our genius manager. There were very few dissenting voices, as the result, apparently, was all that mattered. Look back far enough on this blog and you will see I was a dissenter, a ranter, a leveller (I should have been born in the 17th century). Then, this season, he became our most revered manager because of the cup win. Anything was forgivable, including relegation and the purchase of Carlos Costly. Now he is the devil. I can't forgive the piss poor football he served up and which got us relegated twice,  I can forgive him leaving us, and, can actually love him for going to the Villa.

It all leaves Blues in a bit of limbo, not enough of a limbo to stop us signing random nonentities though. I can't be arsed with the speculation about who the new man will be. We will get who we get and he will do what he will do. We will still have a team to go and see, and bicker about, and we will still have the Villa to laugh at. We will always have the Villa to laugh at.

I have had a haircut, which is an unremarkable event, but it is a rare occurrence, for me, and, even rarer is the occasion when I have a huge fucking shearing. It has caused comment. Lots of comment. People have felt free to make merry with the comments. The commenting  motherfuckers. Most people like it, and say it's nice that I no longer look like  a dirty stinking tramp. I was feeling good. I was feeling handsome. Then someone said, talking about a case: "what they did to that girls hair was abuse never mind anything else" and someone said, "what did it look like"? She replied, "like that"…….. pointing at my head. You either have it or you don't.

We have a person who works with us, rather sensitive. Lovely, but sensitive. She did a cat ridden visit this morning and came back worrying that she stank of cat. She worried all the day long, and everyone reassured her that there was absolutely no odour of pussy about her person. Our assurances may not have been true.  But we are sensitive souls. About 4 oclock, a Merthyr boy who had been out all day, came back, and, walking past her said, "what's that smell?" and the lady said, "oh no, it's not me smelling of cat is it?" and he said, "it's not so much cat, as cat piss".

Cue hilarity.  I've never been so proud of the boy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Drag Queens in Limousines

I'm listening to Ralph Macleans classic albums as I type. Just started, so don't how good it will be, but it is usually brilliant. He is pleasingly loose with his definition of classic.

I mentioned Swedish author Hakan Nesser the other week. I am nearing the end of another one. I like Scandinavian crime. I know it's become a bit uncool, but if you look beyond the obvious, there is some brilliant stuff, and most of the obvious stuff is alright too. Nesser is ace, light but dark, playful but serious and Van Veeteren has become my favourite fictional copper.

Blues have been shopping for soiled goods again. Welcome Marlon King, a gentleman and a scholar.

Meanwhile, Villa are compiling the longest shortlist in history. No one wants anything to do with them. I can't say I'm surprised, what with their extremely fickle and violent fans. Who would want to be associated with that shower of shit?

It's a bit after the event, but I came across a brilliant appreciation of Messi the other day. It seems to be a bit uncool all of a sudden to profess a liking for either Messi or Barcelona, but those of us with eyes to see and hearts to swell know how to appreciate art when we see it. Anyway, the only reason I am blogging tonight is so that I can link to it.

Addendum: so far, this Maclean show is a bit shit. Don't let that put you off though, we are all allowed an off day! His country programme consistently brillant.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Miss You Now

There is an appreciation in the Guardian today of the film Cutters Way. It's nice to see it lauded, because it is a good film, but it is not a patch on the book. Few films are, but I mention this, because the book Cutter and Bone is a masterpiece. I don't understand how it is not recognised as a classic. I love this book so much that I regularly buy it for people, and I have  yet to come across anyone who has not been moved by it, and who hasn't fallen in love with it. If you haven't read it, read it, I urge you: buy the damn book. Buy it twice! You can get it on Amazon for 1 single penny. How ridiculous is that?

I'm cooking like a maniac again on this sunny Saturday. There is a highly spiced shoulder of lamb cooking very, very slowly in the oven………it will be in there for seven hours. The aroma coming off it is something else. I had a glance through an old Marcella Hazan book while enjoying a coffee in the garden, and came across a recipe for spaghetti salad, with a roasted aubergine and pepper dressing, so had to make that too, and then it struck me that the kids needed a bit of dinner before they all disappear, so I knocked up, in 20 minutes flat, some pasta with a tuna sauce. It's so simple, and so fucking delicious, I'm blogging the recipe. This is for my own benefit, because by 5 o'clock I will have no idea how I made it. I should blog my recipes more often, as I can never remember the fuckers.

Here we go, what I used:

1 tin of Tuna
I shallot
I clove garlic
2 rashers pancetta
Zest of half a lemon
A bit of chilli
Sherry vinegar, but any will do
big spoon of sugar
big squirt of tomato puree
tin of tomatoes
half a pint of chicken stock

Until I did this, I could never stand a tuna sauce, but by God, I've cracked it. First thing, obviously is to get a big pan of salted water on the go.

Get the pancetta and shallot going in some olive oil, then drain the tuna, really drain it, squeeze all that bastard brine or water or oil or whatever out, then break it up, almost shred it, into your pan with the pancetta and immediately add some chopped garlic. You can add the garlic first if you like, I don't care.

Let that fry up a bit on a highish heat, you want the shredded tuna sizzling. When it's really hot, chuck in a spoon of vinegar and the sugar, and give it a quick stir, keep on high until the burning sensation the vinegar puts in your nostrils has gone……….add the lemon zest and chilli, give it a good old stir, add the tomato puree, give it a stir, add the tomatoes, maybe chuck in a slug of worcester sauce too, it won't hurt, season the bleeder, and add the chicken stock. Get it all bubbling and reduce to a fairly vigorous simmer.

Whilst that's doing put your pasta on, when that done, mix it all together. Give it a squirt of lemon juice and add a load of chopped basil, and Fannie's yer aunt. Done in no time and the kids love it. All the kids love it, which is a very rare occurrence.

That ain't the end of my cooking though…………I'll be doing a tabouleh, a raw veg salad, some marinated aubergine, and a differently marinated and bloody spicy broccoli. I hope the weather stays nice, because all of the above are designed to be eaten at room temperature; I can prepare it all and then just sit back, relax. and enjoy the afternoon and evening reading in the garden, with a few drinks, some mellow music and a nibble or 3 as the fancy takes me.

Bon bleeding appetit!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Set Guitars To Kill

It's a day that usually I would be very excited about, the first ay of the Wychwood Festival, but I'm not there, I'm here, for a variety of reasons, although, with the weather, if I found several hundred quid tucked down the back of a settee I would be on my way. The main reason we aren't going is the line up, which has a few gems, but is a bit, well, retro as it has increasingly become. It's a shame, because the kids love it (and so do the adults) and it is a better festival for kids than EOTR, but it's got to be about the music, and it just doesn't compare with EOTR, so EOTR it has to be.

I mention it because there was an article in the paper today, all about the rise of nostalgia……a phenomenon that has been getting on my nerves for several years. The article is very harsh, actually, far harsher than I would be, but I liked it anyway.  He dismisses Dexy Midnight Runnners as nostalgists, but I think he does them a disservice; they brought a freshness and energy to their tunes and quickly moved on from the Stax type stuff……….and they created one of the best albums ever made, by anyone, anywhere, in any genre……the bizarrely neglected, not to mention criminally unavailable, "Don't Stand Me Down".

I'm not against nostalgia. It's OK, in it's place. A couple of years ago I saw the Beat at Wychwood. I used to like the Beat, I saw 'em plenty of times at The Barrel Organ before anyone had ever heard of 'em and considered myself a fan, but I was not enthused prior to this festival performance. Needn't have been so glum, they were ace, even though Ranking Roger was the only original member, and they had the place jumping, singing and grinning from ear to ear……. it's just high class karaoke though really, innit? The Men They Couldn't Hang also performed at the festival that weekend and they were brilliant, I loved 'em, again, but they played on the Saturday afternoon, waking up a slightly elderly, slightly hungover crowd.

So, nostalgia has its place, and that place is a working mans club, or the end of the pier, or a cruise ship. as part of a package. What irks me is the prominence that nostalgia now gets. The Specials reform to play some festivals and the world goes fucking mad, broadsheets have big articles on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday; meanwhile, Jerry Dammers, who continues to make new and interesting music is ignored. God help us if the Smiths ever reform, half the population will spontaneously combust.

The whole world seems to have bought into it, proper music magazines do it, proper writers do it, intelligent, as well as idiotic d.j's do it. It's baffling, We live in an era where there is so much good new stuff about, and is easily available, that it's enough to make your head spin; but the mainstream can think of nothing but the past. We should not forget the past, and there is nothing wrong with revering it, but we are all becoming slaves to it.

Roger Daltrey is playing in Newport later in the year. Newport and environs is excited. Big star coming to play.  I think the cheapest ticket is 45 quid. Lets face it, he is an old man, who will be backed by a bunch of session musicians. Imagine if you had seen Daltrey as a young man, in all his energetic and fiery pomp, before anyone else had heard of him, or when the Who hadn't quite broke through and you could still see them in small venues, ripping it up. Just imagine that.

Well, you don't really have to imagine it, because there are brilliant bands playing in most towns every night. Some town have several brilliant bands playing every night. I would rather spend a fiver or a tenner taking a chance on some unknown or little known band and seeing 5 or 6 of them than seeing an ancient Roger Daltrey creak his way through his greatest hits just the once, for the same money. You don't even have to take a chance, the internet will give you more than a flavour of what to expect before you part with your cash, and you might just be seeing someone who in a years time will be the talk of Later With Jools Holland. It has to make more sense.