Thursday, 27 October 2016

Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad

It's common knowledge that Bono is a spunk trumpet. Everyone knows that, and the reasons why.

And yet, and yet... he only went and wrote Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad. Was total and utter global domination with U2 not enough for the little fella? Apparently not. The story goes that The Ego was quite pally with Frank Sinatra. And, just because he could, he wrote a song for him. However, Ol' Blue Eyes passed away before he could commit it to tape. Daughter Nancy, though, would later give it the Sinatra treatment.

I don't remember how, when, why or where I first got hold of Matt Dusk's version of the song, but it's been living on my iPod for bloody ages. And, every now and again, it crops up on shuffle. As it did today. Interestingly, I only found out relatively recently that Bono had written it. Just goes to show, a good song is a good song. No matter who writes it. Still doesn't stop him from being a spunk trumpet.

Matt Dusk - 'Two Shots Of Happy, One Shot of Sad'

Saturday, 22 October 2016


I'll admit it, horror films still scare the crap out of me. If I lived on my own I don't even think I could watch one at three o'clock in the afternoon with the sun streaming in through the windows; let alone after dark, with the lights turned out.

'Tango' is a short film. It's a surreal film, not a horror film by any stretch of the imagination. But a very intimidating film, nonetheless. It's also, for some inexplicable reason, a film I come back to time and again. And, when I do, I feel ever so slightly uncomfortable. It unnerves me.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Spunk Trumpet

As in, 'Bono is a spunk trumpet.' Although the jury is still out as to whether or not it should be hyphenated, its definition, Urban or otherwise, is pretty self explanatory. For the most part.

Try and drop it into casual conversation, or maybe an email, today. Put it in "speech marks" or italics and no one will be offended. Let me know how you get on.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

High Flying Bird

At a time in her life when most women her age have become 'ladies who lunch', my friend is tearing up the rule book. It's long been Jackie's dream to escape the shackles of suburbia and the Partonesque 9 to 5 drudgery. And she really has wanted this for a long time: most young girls at the age of eight wanted a pony - Jackie wanted to be a Trolly Dolly.

And so, after a life spent taking meeting minutes and making coffee for lame brain bosses, she has undergone some serious X-Factor style auditioning and interviewing and, last Friday, received an email informing her that her tenure at British Airways as part of their hand picked cabin crew - working out of Heathrow - begins next month. And, if I know Jackie, I'll put money on the fact that within six months of getting the gig she'll have made the front bit of the plane hers: taking care of all your First Class needs.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Mystery Train

A friend of mine thrust the global best seller everyone's banging on about in my hands last week and said: 'John, you might like this.' She was right. I did. But why did I feel guilty for enjoying The Girl on the Train as much as I did. Was it because... doesn't pretend to be anything other than a glorified Whodunnit? true Blackadder style, it twists and turns like a twisty turny thing?

...I know a real life Rachel?

...I'd never thought of anyone doing that with a corkscrew?

...I too find myself gazing from trains into houses that back onto the line?

...its cheesy Scooby Doo confession at the end ('And if it hadn't been for you meddling kids, I'd have got away with it') worked precisely because it was cheesy?

Or was it just because it's a cracking page turner that can be read in one sitting? Anyway, it's saved me the bother of watching the equally hyped film which, apparently, has moved the story from London to New York for no good reason and, by all accounts, has about as much tension as the Postman Pat movie.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Hold the Bells

I'm neither an inventor nor a maker - I leave that to the Number One Son. But, I have, in the last couple of weeks, invented a drink. A cocktail, if you will. This, I assure you, is my first venture in this sector; I don't claim to be a mixologist. First things first, let me give you the back story.

Whenever Gordon comes up to see us he always comes bearing gifts - flowers for Jenny, some obscure 1960s cutting from the Hull Daily Mail for me and wine for all of us. And, invariably, he augments all of the above with a bottle of Bell's. My parents have won more bottles of hooch over the years in raffles, Conservative Club draws and Golf Club tombolas than you can shake a shitty stick at. A fair percentage of this haul has been Bell's whisky. And because neither of them were whisky drinkers they've been stockpiling this most average of blends in their pantry under the stairs.
However, now the old man knows I like whisky (I do love single malts) he is now siphoning off his whisky lake and flooding us with the stuff instead.

Of course, I can't tell him that I really should be cleaning the drains with it. Instead, I grappled with the idea of disguising it - and that's when I had my light bulb moment.

So, here is my step-by-step guide to make a perfect Hold the Bells. See what I did there?

* In a long tall glass shovel in a generous helping of crushed ice

* Into it pour two fingers of Bell's

* Top up with Dandelion & Burdock

* Now suspend belief and add 3 or 4 dashes of Hendersons Relish, Lea & Perrins if you don't have South Yorkshire's finest

* Whisk to within an inch of its life

* Job done!

There you go. Make one tonight and impress your sophisticated (and not so sophisticated) friends. Money back guarantee if you're not fully satisfied.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

On hold

I'm all over the place at the moment. And treading water at the same time: selling a house in a post-Brexit world was never going to be easy. But, it will go - sooner or later. I know where I want to be, and it's not here. So, for the time being, life is kind of on hold.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Daddy's Girl

Heather. And Harvey (her daddy)

Don't mess with Amy - the Fire Starter *will* come down on you like a ton of bricks. Just two of the many celebrity sightings at last night's party. In no particular order I spotted, amongst others, Noddy Holder, John and Yoko, a brace of Madonnas, Dolly Parton, Siouxsie Sue, Freddie Mercury, Slash, Angus Young, Kiss (two of them), The Blues Brothers (both of them), The Village People (all of them), Demis Roussos(!), Alice Cooper (and his snake), Kurt Cobain (carrying a gun), several Sgt.Peppers and Ginger Spice c/w 5 o'clock shadow.

It was like stepping into a walking talking version of Madame Tussauds.

Saturday, 1 October 2016


I've just listened to the latest Word podcast and was enthralled by Paul Morley talking so eloquently about David Bowie: Morley's biography of The Dame, 'The Age Of Bowie', has just been published and it's Morley's very personal take on probably one of the most influential players in the history of popular music.

The Bowie section on my bookshelves is very minimalist. I bought George Tremlett's sketchy paperback, 'The David Bowie Story', whilst still at school and not long out of short trousers. Tremelett's tome was quite literally a snapshot in time, ending as it does with Ziggy's retirement bash at Hammersmith Odeon in '73.

Sitting alongside Tremlett is 'Any Day Now - The London Years: 1947-1974'. And it is just that. Kevin Cann has put together an exhaustive encyclopedia of Bowie documenting what he was doing - and who he was doing it with - every single day between being born in January1947 and the day he left Britain in March 1974.

Whilst Bowie's influences are as far reaching today as they ever were and his stock, since his demise earlier this year, has never been so high, it's the years 1971-1973 when, for me, Bowie was most exciting. Seeing him on Top of the Pops playing Starman with his blue acoustic guitar, hearing Hunky Dory for the first time and getting giddy when Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars took rock and roll into a new theatrical dimension, is a unique sequence of events I feel privileged to have witnessed first hand.

Picking out random October days from these special years you can see the speed at which he was gaining traction. Space Oddity would not become a novelty hit ball and chain he would forever drag around and he was still a million miles away from Berlin. So, with the Beatles now safely in their grave, the stage was set for Bowie's grand entrance.


The Man Who Sold The World is finally released and his song Oh You Pretty Thing is released by Peter Noone. His son Zowie (Duncan Jones) is born and he meets Andy Warhol for the first time in New York. He also plays Glastonbury Fayre - just as the sun is coming up.

Tuesday 19 October. Preview copies of the new album, Hunky Dory, are pressed with a final track listing and mix.


Hunky Dory charts in the US and Ziggy is unveiled for the first time. He gifts All the Young Dudes to Mott The Hoople and produces Lou Reed's Transformer.

Friday 6 October. The Jean Genie (or 'Dream Genie' as its called on the tape box) is recorded in RCA's Studio D.


A year bookended by Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups with Drive in Saturday and the death of Ziggy somewhere in the middle. By now he's huge - both over here and, all importantly, over there. Over there being America and Japan and most of the English speaking world.

Thursday 18 October. Filming of the The 1980 Floor Show, a Bowie live extravaganza, begins at London's Marquee Club - to be broadcast the following month in the US on NBC's Midnight Special.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Hunter gatherer

Ten things you need to know about Ian Hunter:

* He was 29 when he joined Mott The Hoople.

* That's why he's 77 now - nearly as old as my dad. Just for the record, my dad was never in Mott The Hoople.

* He sings in a fake Cockney accent - hailing, as he does, from Herefordshire. That's nearly in Wales.

* His sunglasses are fixed to his head with No More Nails.

* Hunter is actually his middle name. I think it's got something to do with tax.

* He's prickly. Very prickly.

* He invented the Sex Pistols. Seriously. Listen to this if you don't believe me.

* I saw him play The Running Horse in Nottingham the day after Diana died, and he insisted on a minute's silence before the gig started.

*   'Ships', the song he wrote about his father, was recorded by Barry Manilow. I know, hard to get your head around, isn't it?

* Hunter has just released an eye watering 30 CD anthology. It's called 'Stranded in Reality'. You really should go out and buy a copy. Apart from 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy' and a booklet containing 841 photographs of him in his sunglasses (most of them taken indoors and/or at night), you'll find this favourite of mine:

Ian Hunter : Death of a Nation

For Steve

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The only way is Essex

Between 1973 and 1975 David Essex dominated the UK singles charts. He was our David Cassidy. Or Donny Osmond. You couldn't turn your telly on or open a magazine and not find his Colgate ring of confidence staring back at you. Like dog sh*t n the park - he was everywhere.
Around this time Danny Baker, famously, was passing himself off as Essex's brother. Wearing the same white suit as Essex and tossing his mane á la Essex, he was getting as many babes as his 'brother', if not more.

Anyway, anyone who read Stud, and is still wondering who the hell I'm going as to this fancy dress shindig, I will put you out of your misery.

On Saturday night, Matthew, I'm going to be David Essex. Jump up and down in yer blue suede shoes.

Though something tells me there's probably more mileage in touting myself as Danny Baker's brother.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

360 Degrees of Separation

My fellow diner and I spotted the band slipping out of the club's stage door on the other side of the street from our table in the window. They'd just finished their soundcheck and were all having a good glen at the poster outside advertising the gig: Dodgy - Warehouse 23, Wakefield - Friday 16 September - Doors 7.30 pm.

I've lost count how many times I've seen them live. The first time was way back in 1996. They'd just had their Barnets shorn and dyed blonde - a couple of weeks before they released their third album Free Peace Sweet. I remember another blondie introducing them that night - Jo Wiley broadcast the whole gig live that night on her Radio 1 show.

But within a year the band had folded. Nigel Clark's decision to call time stunned everyone. The other two probably still haven't forgiven him.
Since getting back together in 2007, Warehouse 23 is typical of the kind of venue the band play these days; but nearly twenty years ago, just prior to Clark pulling the plug in 1997, Dodgy were on the verge of great things. Their records were selling by the shed load, their guitarist was walking out with Denise van Outen. Life was sweet.

However, things are on the up again: these days they're probably writing the best songs of their career. They've got that knack of releasing material you swear you already know. Take this one for example, California Gold. They played it on Friday as part of a blistering set - it's taken from their new album What Are We Fighting For.

Thank you to JT for the photos

Saturday, 17 September 2016


Mick Tucker (1947-2002)
What I know about drumming and tuppence probably wouldn't get your hair cut. But I'd like to think I know the difference between a good drummer and, shall we say, a not so good drummer. And, as a breed, they probably have the same set of chromosomes as goalkeepers: slightly unhinged but someone at the back you can depend on.

The Sweet could never have plied their trade in Glam's top flight if Mick Tucker (the man at the back) hadn't made the drum stool his own. Tight as a duck's bottom and never frightened to set-up the entire contents of the nearest percussion factory on stage and take up residence.
Added to which, Tucker was so good at the windmill trick with his sticks, you'd swear there was a motor hidden between his middle and forefinger.

Here's a bit of archive footage I found for the first time the other day on Youtube from a German TV show in late 1974. Brian Connolly has obviously gone to the bar, leaving our aforementioned drummer about to take to the stage with guitarist Andy Scott and bass player Steve Priest - both looking considerably more svelte than they do today.

Even if you don't fancy watching the whole thing (spoiler alert - contains drum solo), please just watch the opening frames while Tucker performs his windmill straight to camera before throwing his sticks in to the crowd. As a period piece this really is vintage Glam. And they're playing totally live.

So, sit back and enjoy the three-piece Sweet as they chuck the kitchen sink at Elmer Bernstein's 'The Man With the Golden Arm' - taken from their long player Desolation Boulevard released earlier that year.

Postscript - it transpires that women can even take their clothes off to this piece of music. Who knew?