Monday, January 30, 2006

For whom the Belle tolls

Hello there, me ducks! How ya diddlin'? Not so good, eh? Too bad, get your own 'blog and tubbyboohoo about it there, I gots to get down to bidness.

I know I have been neglecting you all, but when you have money in your pocket and a gay hat on your head you don't hang around indoors typing nonsense on the tinternet, do you?

Of course not. You go out drinking.

Besides, this past weekend was quite a momentous one for a pal of mine. He was celebrating the end of his bachelor days with ten of his closest chums in Edinburgh, with beer and strippers galore.

Like a true friend, I stayed at home and went to see Belle and Sebastian's show in Newcastle instead.

Now I am keenly aware that this doesn't reflect too well on me. When Roy Race was getting ready for a cup final, Blackie Gray was right there with him, not out taking in a Pastels gig at the Melchester Hippodrome. When Biggles was getting the plane ready for a dogfight with the Hun, Ginger didn't stop at home reading Sounds and listening to Talulah Gosh, did he? He jolly well got his arse into gear and helped his mate out.

Well, fair enough, that's all well and good, but they hadn't already shelled out eighteen quid for a ticket, had they?


So, the big night came and it was off to Newcastle's busy city centre for an evening of lager and modish indie pop. There is an unfair stereotype that the followers of Belle and Sebastian are all specky, nerdy, greasy-haired spod chaps called Simon or Toby and bucktoothed, hair-bunched, posho lasses called Hilary.

What arrant nonsense. I would say that only 85% of the crowd fitted that lazy caricature. I'm sure I saw a couple of normal people there.

After buying a round of drinks from the world's slowest bar staff, there was barely time for a swig of over-priced lager before the band bounded on at the ridiculously early time of quarter past eight. With a raucous cry of "Hello Newcastle, are you ready to rock?" the band crashed into their opening number, the all-out thrash metal onslaught of "Swallow it all, bitch!"

I joke of course. It was actually "Donkeyboy Bitchpleaser".

Not really. They kicked off the show with an acoustic intro to "The State That I'm In" with the band joining in halfway through. However, even with the dozen or so lads and lassies onstage giving it their all, they still weren't very loud. Now, I'm no Nigel Tufnells, wanting everything turned up to eleven, but I would prefer the band to drown out the sound of, for example, the stupid cow behind me who was singing along to every song despite having a sketchy grasp of the lyrics and an annoying voice.

Still, the band knocked out a fine set of oldies and newies, came back for a two-song encore and still managed to be offstage by five to ten. This probably suited the majority of the crowd just fine, they having sounded like the sort of people who appear on sunday morning religious programmes, clapping along to some beardy types strumming acoustic guitars and singing "Hats off to Jesus, he is skill".

Anyhow, the early finish allowed for a goodly amount of drinking in the Toon's many nightspots and fleshpots so it's not all bad.

Sunday saw a chance to slightly make amends for my heartless desertion of my mate who was getting married. The stag party arrived in the local pub at half three and I was there to greet them. Tall tales of boozed-up in-fighting, titty bars and jumbo sausage were told, the amber nectar got necked and the strain began to tell on some of the participants.

One lad, who we'll simply refer to as Stephen Burkes, was having a "cheeky" half-pint "for the ditch" and weaving about unsteadily on his feet, spilling most of his drink on the floor. Then he spilled it all on the floor as he fell over, much in the style of a tower block being blown up. It took about four of us to lift him up (he's a stranger to Slimcea) but the blow to his dignity was the more serious one. The entire bar, who were enjoying the show greatly, were told to "fook off, yiz cuntz" and our little group decided to make our excuses and leave.

At the next bar, we met up with the junior wing of our social set, the famed hooligan posse known as The Bedlington Ewoks. Our furry chums were in fine form because their sunday football team had won a cup semi-final against their more fancied rivals from The North pub. There was considerable gloatage going on and much planning of Cup Final suits, minibuses, official club songs etc.

So boisterous were the celebrations that another pub, on seeing the crowd approaching, shut their doors at half nine. That type of drunkenness is truly what it's aal aboot.

The night ended in traditional style, alone in bed with a Spar sandwich. That's livin', alright.

Keep your wheels spinning and the beavers grinning. Toodle pip!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hat's the way I like it

Happy frickin' noo year, you douchebags!

What ho, my virtual interweb chums, we meet again, what? I must admit, it seems like years since I saw you last.

I am, of course, being amusing. January, and the new year it spearheads, is upon us like a slavering tiger getting upside a native bearer in far-off India. I don't know if it is just me, but the year 2006 seems particularly unglamorous and charmless. Whether it is the number itself, possessing no significance or novelty, or possibly because I have become jaded and cynical with the passage of time, I don't know.

All I can say is that the prospect of 2006 fills me with indifference.

This isn't to say that life is all fly and no ointment at the moment. There are, it must be said, little things that make life worth living.

The crisp crunch of fresh, clean snow under one's boots; injury time equalisers in local derby football matches; the first glass of Bordeaux wine in the morning while the breakfast bacon sizzles on the griddle; the new Belle and Sebastian album; gorging like a pig on Danish butter cookies; pouring oneself a foaming hand shandy while watching a pretty presenter on Sky Sports News.

Jim, I think his name is, Scotch lad, you know the one I mean, the little tart.

These are all hip and dudey in their way. I like them, I think they're good.

However, they must all bend the knee and salute the majesty of gadding about the place wearing a black, Fidel Castro-style hat.

You may be familiar with the work of the good people at H & M. They sell reasonably-priced, voguish clothing to the beautiful person on a budget. Their premises are always worth a visit if you wish to observe what my coarse friends might describe as "tidy boilers" or "dolly birds" browsing for low-cut tops and chi chi accessories.

Mostly though, they don't cater for the fat bastard end of the market.

If I am to be honest with you, this is the only end of the market I go to. You could go so far as to say there is a court-sanctioned ASBO requiring me to keep away from the other end of the market, owing to a misunderstanding regarding a lost contact lens and a changing booth.

A sordid business.

Anyhow, we have strayed. In the shell of a nut, the only section of H & M's modish wares I can fully participate in is the headwear section. And participate I jolly well did. For a trifling sum, I walked away with a masterpiece of the milliner's craft. So giddy with excitement was I that I asked the comely assistant to cut off the tags so I could wear it straight away.

It was purely coincidental that I was making this purchase in the company of two of my dreadful friends, having been sipping evil beer all day long.

Let me tell you, being part of a gang of fat chaps, trying on hats while drunk, in a boutique full of model types is tremendous fun, free of modern suggestiveness and filthy goings on that taint so many areas of life.

We're going buying gay shoes next month. Giddy up, eh?

Laters, me taters.