Well fancy seeing you here...

Hello and welcome to the rambling rollercoaster of useless ponderings, strung together in what the internet calls a "blog," and the voices call a waste of everyone elses time.

Please check your sanity at the door (along with your dignity, logic, principles, good taste and prejudices against daftness.)

"I am here to seduce you into a love of life; to help you to become a little more poetic; to help you die to the mundane and to the ordinary so that the extraordinary explodes in your life." -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Tuesday, 30 June 2009


The last few days have been rather strange ones, not least because of The Most Widely Reported Death Since Jesus’. The difference being that I don’t think Michael Jackson will come back and snog a hooker. Much as I think you must all be growing weary of this particular topic, my ego refuses to allow me to post this entry without making some reference to it, for posterity’s sake. If (when) this blog is discovered as the next big thing, it would be remiss of me to make no mention of the demise of such a high-profile celebrity. Michael Jackson was, after all, as well loved by his fans as he was ridiculed by his critics – and his talent had an undeniable effect on the careers of artists and musicians worldwide, which will be felt long into the future.

The reality of his death was – as we are all aware – conversely surreal, and as shocking and dramatic as was his life. The first reports I saw came as I logged online Friday 25th June, and the little Twitter-feed that is plugged into my internet browser alerted me that at 9:47pm LA-based celebrity Lawyer-turned-reporter Harvey Levin was claiming that Michael Jackson had been rushed to hospital following a suspected cardiac arrest. Clicking through links to TMZ.com's initial reports I wondered how much truth there was in the rumour, and posted to the link to a couple of Jacko-fan friends. In those alerts I, and many others, sceptically questioned the seriousness of his condition – thinking it a stunt that would get him out of completing what had, for many weeks, seemed an increasingly-unlikely tour.

Soon the news on every station was broadcasting nothing but shots of UCLA Medical Centre where it was believed he had been taken by ambulance. Aerial shots of his Holmby Hills home were cut with images of the devoted coterie of fans (and equally-dutiful pack of journalists) who had begun to gather outside of the hospital.

In this dawning age of instantly-available international media, having access to official news agencies like BBC News, Sky, and CNN – as well as the barrage of information being delivered via social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MSN – meant that it was hardly necessary to Google the situation for clarity. It felt as though there was no other news; no other tragedy or sensation on the collective mind of mankind.

Of course, for those away from such a high intensity of electronic trappings, their blissful ignorance was being slowly interrupted by unbelievable texts and seemingly-prank phone-calls. Earlier that day, a friend of mine had text to say she was out giving a friend a driving lesson, and I’d replied informing her – rather bluntly – that Farrah Fawcett had died. At the time that was the lead news story, though had not been deemed worthy of the incessant coverage granted to Michael’s death a few hours later. Of course, because I had broken the news to her in such a cavalier manner when one of Charlie’s Angels claimed her wings for real, there was a healthy suspicion in her response when I also sent her the equally emotionally-bereft text; “Michael Jackson’s dead.” Eventually I convinced her I wasn’t joking, and they pulled over to watch the story unfold online (god bless smartphones). Similarly, the news had by then begun to filter through to the few who remained unaware that the King of Pop was potentially no-more.

I say potentially because at that point the news coverage still sounded like the opening credits of BBC drama Life On Mars, where the main character Sam Tyler narrates “Am I dead? In a coma? Or back in time?” For none of the stations seemed to know which was applicable – though I don’t think time-travel was seriously considered by anyone but FoxNews. When the reports of his death did begin to trickle in, first from TMZ and then via the LA Times, it still felt like a soap-opera, not a genuine tragedy. He was Michael Jackson for goodness’ sake. Michael Jackson doesn’t die. I imagine people felt the same way when Elvis perished, and I remember people sharing a similar shock and disbelief when Princess Diana’s accident was reported. Some news stories are just too big to absorb at the same speed with which they are reported.

Of course, it isn’t unheard of for a man with chronic poor health, a notoriously stressful life, and history of drug (and possibly alcohol) abuse to die from a heart-attack aged 50. The reason it seemed so unexpected is, as a friend said soon after the confirmation of his death came through, because none of us thought of Jackson as a 50 year old man. He was described as a hero, a joke, an inspiration, and a pop-cultural icon – but as a generously-middle-aged man? Never.

It has yet to be seen what form of memorial Michael’s family will choose, and thus still unclear how the world will commemorate the man who influenced so many. In the coming weeks we will undoubtedly discover more bizarre details about the hidden life of a man who was, regardless of success, both grandiosely eccentric and meekly introverted in equal conflicting measure.

The first intriguing bit of “gossip” of which I had been previously unaware, comes from the vicarious email newsletter ‘PopBitch’ who raided their archives to re-release the report that:

Macaulay comes good! Was Jacko saved by Culkin sperm?
MacCaulay Culkin's testimony that Michael Jackson had never fiddled with him went a long way to persuading the jury that Gavin Arvizo's story couldn't be trusted. But we hear from a source in Santa Maria that Macaulay didn't want to testify until the judge ruled that he could not be asked any questions about whether he was the real sperm donor for Paris Jackson... Michael's blonde, fair-skinned daughter.

Despite my ghoulish curiosity, I do feel for the family, and in particular his children, whose futures are now far less certain (if more conducive to stability) than ever before. His youngest child, carried by a surrogate, has mother listed as “none” on his birth records – and the other children have had very limited contact with their mother Debbie Rowe. Their grandmother Katherine Jackson has been granted temporary custody, but as with all high-profile cases, it is bound to be anything but a smooth transition for them, as anyone who feels able to “stake a claim” begins to enter the spotlight.

Whilst I don’t believe it deserves the amount of coverage it has received, and irrespective of fan or foe, I think many of us feel that the last chapter of the Michael Jackson story will be one of the most interesting.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Still Ill...

In the time following the last blog – which feels like it was written several seasons ago as we've since been reminded that the Earth actually does still revolve around a Sun – I’ve made the long-overdue pilgrimage to Manchester. This is a journey that every Morrissey fan must make at some point in their life, and it is all the better if they can embrace Mr Moz himself on the voyage to this marvellous Mancunian Mecca. (Which, incidentally, now always makes me think about Bingo and not Muslims.) The metaphor still works though, as getting tickets to see Morrissey perform live in his hometown on his birthday was like hitting the jackpot.

That even sounds cliché in my confuzzled cerebrum. You should know that any ramblings I post right now are likely to be adversely influenced by the chest-infection I'm guzzling antibiotics to try and combat. I've been calling it a chest-infection because people started panicking when I told them I had "The Plague." Apart from one friend, who simply asked "which plague?" Which plague?! I have a cough, and almost sneezed last week! It's impossible for this to be anything other than the Original Black Death! …Not the 'New Improved Black Death aka Swine Flu.' Nope, this is a reissue of the previously successful version, with some of the lung-crackles removed and more contemporary artwork.

The latest symptom is auditory hallucinations. I am assuming my experience earlier is a symptom and not something which actually happened, because it's a little too ridiculous for even me to explain away otherwise. I suppose it was my own fault for watching Springwatch on BBC2 this evening – but my bug-befuddled brain thought that cute baby animals wouldn't be as neurologically taxing as, say, the uber-intellectual Eastenders.

While watching the aforementioned animal documentary I lay curled up in bed with a mug of tea, musing that when I was little their new presenter Chris Packham used to be very involved with the junior RSPB (of which I was a member) and used to film nature programs for our local TV station, Meridian. As I sat there – thinking he had gone from being a slightly smarmy young man, to a slightly smarmy fat and middle-aged man – the oddity began. As he discussed an injured swallow with co-presenter Kate Humble, he rather pointedly finished his link with "I wonder, Kate, if that bird is Still Ill?" As "Still Ill" is a Morrissey song title, I thought maybe he was making some sort of joke relating to a previous show or location (as I couldn't think what swallows in general have to do with Manchester). As the show went on, I repeatedly noticed the ageing twitcher dropping still more Morrissey song titles into the show. At various intervals he referred to a wildlife photographer as "This Charming Man" and upon admitting that he once kept wasps in his house (and being asked if he actually has any real friends) he replied, wistfully; "well Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me..."

Now, though I considered all this to be a little weird, I had not yet convinced myself that I was imagining it until I thought I heard him describe some wild polecats as 'Sweet and Tender Hooligans." It is therefore my conclusion that I have Morrissey on the brain, as surely as I harbour the Black Death within my lungs. I know the penicillin will work for the latter, but I think the former may be incurable. Especially after seeing the man perform and taking a trip to Salford Lad's Club, a location close to Morrissey's heart and one featured in several iconic photographs of The Smiths.

The gig itself was amazing, and he is a far more Charming Man than any foxy photographer of BBC employ! Much as it was such an astounding evening that I still almost cannot believe I was lucky enough to be there, I have opined over every detail of that night to far more people than cared to listen, so will simply include a link to some photographs of the night and share this little playlist of video's recorded by various fans also attending the birthday gig.

Morrissey's 50th Photo's

During my sojourn to the North of England, which included a potentially explosive meeting of menaces, I also got to see Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds; a folk band who play punk songs and are fronted by former Bottom and Young Ones star Ade. They were an entirely different act to his Highness, Sir Steven Patrick of Morrissey, but equally full of quirky, individual brilliance. The band were lovely when we met them, and my father (who came to the gig with his fiancée Sam) snapped a fabulous photo of myself and my non-biological-non-identical twin Anna when we met the erstwhile Vyvyan himself.

At least the return trip from Manchester wasn't too traumatic. It was during one of the hottest days of the year so far, but apart from the generalised melting of passengers in the car, it wasn't quite the combustible heat experienced by my father as he and Sam journeyed from Portsmouth to Newcastle. They travelled to see her son Karl and his fiancée Sian a couple of days before they joined Anna and me for the gig. Both Dad and Sam are smokers, but I doubt dad had imagined just how much (or how literally) he'd end up smoking on that particular day. I probably shouldn't laugh - I mean, it's not really funny. Had it happened after the wedding it would probably have qualified as spousal abuse. After all, Sam did set Dad on fire.

I should probably tell you that it only happened because the cigarette she thought she'd discarded safely was blown back into the car, and unbeknownst to the happy couple, landed in his hair. Unfortunately Dad can't smell, so it wasn't until Sam noticed the acrid scent that he realised he had been set alight. I'm not sure what he was more put out by (aside from the fire extinguisher) – that he had been singed, or that he'd not realised in time to claim it had hurt more than just his bouffant-pride-and-joy.

All in all it has been an eventful few weeks, and is probably no wonder that I have returned collapsed and full of malaise. It's nothing compared to the state of the North as it mourns the loss of my presence, however. I am at least still functioning – but immediately I left the vicinity, Burnley flipped an elected a BNP candidate. ...Some say their tough anti-immigration stance is more about keeping me from returning than an emotional breakdown due to their bereavement. I prefer to think they have turned to the Nazi's because they just don't know how to go on without me. God only knows what they'll do if they hear I have the plague! They might make EvilMcRacist Nick Griffin MEP king of the world or something.

So, shhhhh! No one tell Burnley I'm still ill...

Also in the news, a special friend had a birthday this month, and whilst the relayed antics would make even Scarlet O'Hara blush, it just made me giggle, so thank you for a much-needed laugh! And next time you get an offer like that, say no... For once... Please? (Or at least take some less blurry photo's.) x