It feels like A-G-E-S since I did a Much Love Monday. Today… can I do one in 200 words or less?
Today’s MLM is brought to you by Mika with Elle Me Dit which is a cute little tune which was, of course, all over French radio. One because it’s good and two because French radio is obliged to play music in French.
So… what am I Much Loving?
My NaNoWriMo novel is fini. Hoorah. Well, it’s finished to first draft standard and that’s fine with me. I’ve done 52,000 words in 14 days and that’s good going by any standard.
This resit GCSE is fabulous. What a waste of a great paper on so few children. Tinie Tempah with his malteaser friend, people eating peanut stuff and Nigel Slater talking about sweet shops of the English variety. What’s not to love?
Heston and water. It’s like a drug to him.
Christmas Decorations. Before you get all G-O-M on me (grumpy old man…) and tell me that Christmas is a celebration of something deeply offensive to your miserable soul, I’d like to remind you that our forefathers brought light into the house to see them through the dark times. Just don’t tell me you don’t feel just a little better when you see lovely decorations like these:
This is from Citrus and Orange, a beautiful, beautiful website of beautiful, beautiful images.
Anyway, I am off to do some more teaching of Russians, a dog walk in the forest with the creatures, a bit of GCSE marking, a bit of teaching and a whole lot of feeling fabulous this fine Monday.
This Monday, I thought I’d put a little Latino fire in your soul with a little Rodrigo y Gabriela. This is the musical equivalent of a triple expresso. We all need a little foot-stamping from time to time.
It reminds me of how important music is to me – just one of those things I can’t live without. When I used to go on long train journeys or plane journeys, I’d always take a little music with me. Every long journey I’ve ever made has involved tunes of some kind.
First, I started with a cassette player. I’d tape LPs onto cassettes and then stick them on my Walkman. Some of those old cassettes are still floating about. The problem with them was that you couldn’t take loads, so you had to be really selective, or take mix tapes. If I had to make the soundtrack to my life, James Laid would be the first album I listened to repeatedly on a long, long train journey through a very hot and weary France in the summer of 1995. I slept on the floor in the sleep lounge on an overnight ferry, this album playing on repeat. By the time I was flying to Japan, MP3 players were all the rage and I listened to the Guillemots over and over. Morocco was all about coming over the Atlas Mountains in Morocco listening to 36 Crazyfists as I came down from Fez to Errachidia.
It’s funny how music can be just as evocative of a memory as a smell is.
I’m not sure everyone outside the North West is quite as aware of how music is in our blood. I know I’ve got a little London friend who was thrilled to bits to be going out with a ‘real-life’ musician when she moved up to Manchester. Knowing my friends from the south, from Cornwall, from London, music is something other people do. Personally, I’d be hard-pressed to think of a boy from my youth who didn’t play something, and play it to a standard that’s sometimes amazingly good. I can think of five or six guitarists that are jaw-droppingly good, still playing, sometimes teaching. Some of them do classical stuff, or Spanish-style stuff. Most of them do rock stuff.
Some of our hometown boys made it big, like Elbow. Sometimes, Facebook recommends that I befriend Guy Garvey, which makes me laugh a bit. Elbow are great. This was their Olympic track. For me, they were the pinnacle of the closing ceremony.
So Much Monday Love to guitar boys and girls everywhere. Here’s to long haired, northern boys everywhere. Even if the hair is no longer there and the boy is but a man’s vague memory.
Also Much Love to new readers and their blogs. Pretty soon, my Google Reader is going to be overwhelming – but it’s always so nice to read other people’s blogs. It gives you a little insight into their minds, their lives. And when I’m reading, it’s like I’m listening, properly. I can think about what they say and revisit it. I can’t count the number of times a blog post has given me the kind of food for thought that has nourished me all day.
Much Love to sleeping dogs
Notice that there is no room for me.
Much Love to Mme. V’s Granddad. I took the dogs over on Friday night as usual, for Heston’s weekly sparring competition with his brother Charlton. Mme V had told Granddad that Heston was Charlton’s brother. Only Tilly got out of the car first, my little blonde American Spaniel, and Granddad said ‘Ooh, you wouldn’t know they were brothers, would you?’
I don’t think anyone could confuse Tilly for Heston’s twin. But I like that for one small minute, in Granddad’s head, they were brothers. I love those slips of imagination where just for one minute, a bizarre truth exists.
And for those of you who don’t know why I do Much Love Monday – or why I continue to do it long after the initial blog it came from finished – it’s because I think I’d like to start every week remembering what it is that brings me pleasure and what I’d like to be thankful for. A few years ago, I could find nothing I wanted to live for. Depression does that to you. Now I want to live for everything. It’s as much a reminder to me that there are many splendid things in life that can bring you happiness or a smile. And as you’ll see from my photographs, most of them cost me nothing. ‘Cept those damn dogs. They cost a fortune. I think they need to entertain me more…. I reckon they cost me a couple of quid a day and they need to learn to clean up after themselves.
I’m in a much better Monday-Lovin’ mood this week, mainly because things haven’t been quite so hot or tetchy. It’s been pleasant enough for both work and gardening and play – though less of the play right now on account of a mammoth amount of digging and working.
My Much Love Monday tune is Feeder with Just a Day which is a top feel-good track. Mostly I like watching the video just for all of the crazy kids.
There are a couple of kids in there who really remind me of children I’ve taught. One boy is the spitting image of a young Mark Duckworth, and one of the girls is a dead ringer for Carla, a girl who was in my form group.
Mostly, though, they remind me of me. This is the secret life of teenagers, I think.
There is a group of four kids – three girls and a boy – and that bedroom could be Emma Taylor’s, back in the day, even down to the posters. We famously made up a dance routine to Bananarama’s Venus and were going to perform it at Bamford Cricket Club. I don’t think we ever did and I’m quite glad of that. One of the girls really reminds me of Anna Lee, the girl who shared half my name. She introduced me to the delights of David Bowie and Hunky Dory when I was 13, and I am forever grateful.
We did a lot of hanging around in bedrooms, listening to LPs, perfecting bizarre dance routines and generally entertaining ourselves. We didn’t watch TV – in the days of four channels, it wasn’t very exciting. A lot of it was fairly innocent, and much of it was a lot like this video.
We spent a lot of time hanging around the bus interchange, simply because it was the last place we all had in common before we got home.
And we took a lot of photographs like this one.
I think I must be about 12 or 13 on this. I’ve not learned how to pluck my eyebrows yet, and Emma and I are still too healthy-looking. Somewhere, this year, we fell into the Sensiq Alabastar make-up and spent as much time as we could sourcing kohl eyeliner.
We didn’t just do serious ‘friendship’ photos, but silly ones too. I don’t even know what we were all doing here. That’s the top of my head at the back left. It was a case of putting your money in and being as silly as you can. And then, like true friends, you split the four-strip up and give it to everyone in it. I guess I spent a lot of money doing this! I think this is a third-year photograph, and I’m guessing this is around the Bananarama time. I’d like to point out that Emma is wearing all her sister’s jewellery, and I coveted every single piece of it.
This is me and Danny, who died in 1992. I think this would have been about 1989 or 1990, and was taken in Bolton bus station after a headbanger’s ball. We were almost late for the bus because we were waiting for it to develop, and then it would have been a very long walk home. I love the grainy quality of them in the scans… it just adds to the atmosphere! You can even see where we tore it to split it up. Someone, somewhere just might have the other pieces of these. They always tell a story, not like the passport booths today, where all the photos are the same. It was a challenge to put on a different expression by the next shot.
And here’s one of me on my own. I was 16 here. I’d had this taken for my sixth-form admission. Bless me and my eyeliner and pout.
I had a real sultry look going on in this. I don’t know why.
So my Much Love Monday goes to all teenagers everywhere, whether you are misunderstood, crazy, bonkers, weird, normal, geeky, sporty or bitchy. I’ve got my own little teenager right now – Heston – who is still puppy enough to need a nap at midday, but a big enough boy to get on the bed. He usually has his midday nap on the duvet at the side of my bed, but not today. Today, he jumped on the bed and was asleep there. Naughty boy.
Feeder always leave a little lump in my throat anyway, just as the Manic St Preachers do. When you’ve been touched by suicide as my friends were, at such a young age, it never leaves you. For most of us, it was the first time we realised we weren’t immortal and that sometimes, life wasn’t alright.
So Much Love to Danny, my funny partner-in-crime. You’re always in my thoughts.
And Jon Lee, the drummer with Feeder, had the following poem read out at his funeral.
It wouldn’t be a good thing if I didn’t have Much Love for the Olympics. Today’s track is ‘Stir It Up’ by Bob Marley which is Olympic on two counts. First, because it’s from my favourite happy movie ever – Cool Runnings – and secondly because I thought that the Men’s 100 metres – surely the pinnacle of the Olympics – would be a green, red and yellow 1, 2 and 3. Sadly not to be.
I don’t have a television that’s connected to anything, so if it’s not on Youtube or on a French catch-up site, on DVD or on download, I don’t get to watch it unless I go to someone’s house. This is good because it’s approximately 2 years since I saw an advert, and that’s never a bad thing. However, yesterday, I spent a good eight hours watching events, I’m sure of it.
First, Super Saturday with gold medals for loads of Team GB. For a small country, we don’t do badly. No, we don’t have a population the size of the USA, and send hundreds of competitors. Nor do we have the rigour and drilling of China, and nor would we. What I love most is that ALL of the Team GB Olympians are such lovely, genuinely nice people that you really think they’re so deserving. It’s nice to see so many lovely, lovely people on screen, all being rewarded for their efforts, determination, commitment and talent.
Greg Rutherford, the gold medal-winning long jumper kind of sums up what’s great about Team GB. He’s genuine, humble and sincere. He’s the same kind of modest guy that filled the 2003 William Webb Ellis Cup-winning England Rugby squad.
From Mo Farah, the Somali-born 10,000 metre champion to Jessica Ennis, the gold-winning heptathlete, from Bradley Wiggins to Ben Ainslie, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton… and nine other gold winners, nineteen other medal winners… it’s just amazing. Andy Murray beats Roger Federer, finishing with a wonderful double ace to win in three straight sets… sailing, canoeing, cycling, swimming, diving, gymnastics… it’s just phenomenal. 541 athletes were selected to take part, and not a one is anything but a genuinely dedicated and sincere sportsperson. Compare that to football, where from England’s current 11, 5 of them are usually thugs of some kind or another, over-paid, aggressive philanderers who never have really got what it is to represent your country. The Olympics is a massive sea-change.
This is not before time. This time last year, riots tore apart cities and communities as bored and under-policed youths destroyed their home towns. This year, we’ve had jubilees and Olympics to bring Great Britain back together. Seeing everyone who’s turned out on the streets to see the cycling, the women’s marathon, the 80,000 people watching athletics last night… all the people watching it at home… it’s amazing. I hope a little bit of that pride, that sense of achievement, the sense of something wonderful happening, stays with every single person. It’s not just about the UK, either. I was getting as agitated over the Women’s Marathon as I was over Andy Murray, as excited about the potential for three Jamaican medals in the 100 m. It’s quite something that out of 8 runners, one of whom ran with an injury, there were 3 personal bests. Had it not been for Asafa Powell’s injury, that would have been the first 100m race ever where all 8 competitors would have finished under 10s. Absolutely Amazing
And you might not be into sports. Watching two hours of tennis might be torture for you. You might think it’s all a bit pointless to hang from the pommel horse or be able to do a backflip. But you can’t argue with the fact that this is where grit and determination, steel nerves and passion, commitment and enthusiasm all come together under one roof, and just for a moment, black and white, male and female, rich and poor, Muslim or Christian, they don’t matter. For a small period of time, we rise above ourselves and forget all the petty bureaucracy, the fighting, the arguing, the battles, the wars. We unite against bullies (as any of you on twitter will have seen with the idiot who tried to harass Tom Daley) and collective good triumphs. You can be the Queen’s grand-daughter, or you can be a refugee from a war-torn country, and there really is a level playing field. I think that’s a pretty great thing.
Today’s Much Love Monday’s soundtrack is Mika with Grace Kelly.
Sometimes a little Freddie (Mercury) makes everyone feel a little better.
So… here’s Monday once again
What do I have Much Love for this sunny Monday?
the sun returning and finally being able to get in the garden to sort it out
being able to start the strimmer myself. You may think this is a paltry achievement, but petrol tools with a pull start always freak me out
the firework show at Exideuil and the very lovely company
doggie play dates
the spaniel romance between Dillon and Tilly. It’s one-sided as yet, but as soon as she realises Dillon is going to leave her alone and they can grumble about pups in peace, things will be fabulous
Heston who is as smart as a whip and can now also sit and wait for a treat. Ten days, two tricks. Clever boy
Tilly who has also learned to wait for a treat – who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? It must really irritate her that a puppy can do it. I think she could have, all along, if she’d wanted to, and maybe she feels a bit shown up by the puppy
Noireau – mauser general who can catch on command, even though he’s partially sighted
Summer pudding. Ah, fruit. How I’ve missed you
Grand garden plans
My new garden patch, which has grown from nothing to something beginning to be marvellous:
I’m also coming towards the end of the work year… whilst I have some clients over the summer, many are on holiday or take a break, so I finally have some time to catch up with people who I’ve not spoken to or seen for a while. I’ve finished the script I was translating, and it’s excellent. I can’t claim any credit for it of course, but it was really pleasurable work. The GCSE papers are almost finished. The writing questions have been really nice to mark – there’s been a lot of variety in what they’ve written and the candidates seem to have written really well, compared to last year. They had to write a script for a radio show, and it’s really been good to mark. They’ve written in interesting ways and it’s been a nice format for them. The other piece was a letter to a celebrity persuading them to come to school – and it’s nice to have a variation from Steven Gerrard and Katie Price in a similar vein on a previous question. Jamie Oliver gets lots of mentions, as does David Beckham. It seems an awful lot of English school children are bothered about healthy meals, not just one little girl in Scotland. Several politicians have had a look-in as well, which is good.
The system might still be as frustrating, but it’s reminded me why I do it – so English children get the mark they deserve. I enjoy reading what they have to say. It’s like having 1000 teenagers telling you what they think. Nobody gets that experience and it’s interesting to see, from my perspective, how many children have switched from ‘fame’ being a shallow concept to ‘fame’ being something of note because you have achieved something. The Queen, Alan Sugar, various football managers, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Boris Johnson and even David Cameron have had a look in, and there are far fewer names I don’t know. It’s a little sad to me how many of them are men. Is this a reflection on the percentage of boys taking foundation tier, or on the fact that many women in the public eye are famous for nothing, or for having big boobs, rather than for having any actual talent? I think their responses are a whole lot less shallow and more thoughtful than they were in 2007 or 2008. Perhaps austerity, recession and positive national pride for the Diamond Jubilee and for the Olympics have brought out more thoughtful responses. Or perhaps the public is just tired of plastic people who have nothing to offer. Either way, it makes for good reading!
The summer holidays are also bringing several very exciting summer guests and people I’ve not seen for a couple of years. I will be very, very glad to see them, let me tell you!
Today’s Much Love Monday is brought to you by way of Lita Roza with her version of How Much is that Doggie in the Window?
Heston has been with us now since Thursday and there’s nothing not to love. He’s beautiful! He’s super-intelligent, very playful and lots of fun. He has already learned to sit down, though he still runs off from time to time when he’s done something naughty (or wants to!) and he’s sleeping in his basket next to my bed. He has lots of accidents and is a tinkler rather than a piddler, meaning he goes to the toilet ALL the time rather than waiting til his bladder is full. This is a bit of an issue, but his wees are so little they’re hardly worth bothering about.
Tilly is also being lovely. She won’t play with Heston, and it worries her he might steal all of her things (including her place in my heart) but he’ll never do that. Yesterday, we went on a doggie play date with Mme V and Tilly found an admirer in Dillon, Mme V’s spaniel. He’s bigger than she is, but it’s a match made in heaven from his perspective. She has a crusty nose, some aoutie wounds, she smells bad, she’s a bit deaf, she’s blonde and cute. She doesn’t want to play or fuss and she has a bottom that smells divine to Dillon. What’s not to love?
Tilly’s not so enamoured, but then Dillon has nothing to offer her. He is not made of biscuits. She has foregone sex and swapped it for eating, so Dillon is just an annoyance to her. She tolerates his nose in her behind, but she’s more found of being petted. Despite some little yaps, she soon got over her nerves when she realised Dillon was a lover not a warrior.
Molly has been brilliant with him, but she’s a bit afraid she’ll break him. He wants to play with her and she looks like she’s worried she might drop him and break him, a bit like those women who don’t want to hold a baby in case they hurt it.
Much Love to doggie playdates. Heston, Tilly and Molly had a ball, as did Jake.
Much Love to the weekend of sun, though it’s back to rain again.
Not Much Love to the e-marker system. We pair-mark. This means I mark a thing, somebody else marks it too, and our marks are compared. If there’s a difference, we’re both stopped. Somebody more important looks at them and decides who’s right. If you are wrong, you ‘fail’ and you have one more opportunity before you are stopped. You can be re-trained, but then you are stopped again if you fail to be the ‘right’ marker on four paired-marking scripts.
You’d maybe want the check to be 20% maximum. That’s 45 scripts for me. I can live with that. Yesterday, I had 8 in a row. 8. And then I marked 7 scripts, and I had 5 more. The checking seems to be running at 50% at the moment, which is ridiculous, considering I was ‘right’ on 13 scripts and somebody else was ‘wrong’. That’s at least 4 people whose script was not inline with mine. I wasn’t wrong. I’ve done half of my writing paper marking and I’ve been checked 45% of the time. It’s a little overkill, especially when English marking is based on quality. It’s like that Minefield game.
Not only that, you have to wait whilst unresolved scripts are adjudicated. I wasted 90 minutes yesterday waiting for my marking to be checked. It’s longer today. It’s infuriating.
Anyway, I shall get back to playing with my puppy.
Not Much Love, either, for hiccups. I’ve had them since 7 am on and off. Drinking from the wrong side of the glass, holding my breath, none of it worked.
Today’s Monday Caffeine-and-Thunderbolt blast of happy energy comes to you via Kiss with Rock and Roll All Night
The first time I really got into Kiss was about 1990 – I was a late arrival.
I was seeing a boy named Si from Crewe who gave me a mix tape with a whole load of songs on it.
I miss mix tapes and I think this is why I like playlists. I’ve got an MTV generation attention span. I listened to that mix tape until the tape was thin and worn. It had lots of great songs on it – a few Kiss classics, some Motorhead, some Rolling Stones.
Admittedly, Si was also something of a catch. It wasn’t just about the mix tapes! I’d met him at a Michael Monroe gig – I’m convinced it was February 15th 1990 but I could be wrong. It was at the International II which was a tiny little dive of a venue on Plymouth Grove in Manchester. I saw all kinds of great bands there before they got too big to be good. Motley Crue, Guns and Roses, Ratt, Love/Hate, Faith No More… I guess it could hold about 500 people – maybe a thousand at a push. It was about as cosy as you can get before you take a step up into arena-sized venues. There were no seats. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t very much there at all, apart from a room. If you wanted to get on the stage, very little stopped you.We used to walk back up Plymouth Grove to Piccadilly Gardens to get our bus afterwards – let’s just say Longsight isn’t the most glamorous of places.
I can even remember what I was wearing that night. I’d gone for a neon-pink lace tights ensemble that probably made me look like my legs had succumbed to some circulatory disease. I was also wearing a t-shirt I’d torn up and sewed back together with ribbon. I was classy like that. I’d also bought this skirt with D shaped eyes up the sides which was threaded with laces. It had a zip up the back. Just as all teenagers do, I thought I was fat, but that skirt is a size 8 (yes, I still have it) and I obviously wasn’t as big a pudding as I thought I was! That’s a US size 4, I think. Not super-skinny, but skinny enough!
I’d gone with my friend Pam, I think. I don’t really know why. I don’t think she liked Michael Monroe over much. In those days, I used to buy two tickets and take whoever wanted to come along. Si and I had the ‘eyes across a crowded room’ moment, spent the night either kissing or singing and he came up to see me at the weekend.
He was the first guy I’d gone out with who had a car of his own – and what a car. It was a 2.0 Litre blue C reg Ford Capri and we’d go out for drives on Sundays. He worked on the design team for Rolls Royce. At the time, that didn’t impress me, but I should have been a bit impressed in retrospect. In the days before texts and emails, we wrote to each other twice a week in between, despite spending hours on the phone as well. In fact, when I went on an exchange to Le Mans for three weeks, he wrote to me there too. I’ve still got those letters. There’s something about a letter that an email and a string of texts will never have, and there’s nothing like teenage love. Mind you, I was 17 by then and I’m pretty sure he was in his early twenties.
By June, he decided he wasn’t going to come up any more. I interfered with his Sunday fishing trips. That’s not the first time I’ve been dumped for a fishing trip and Steve owes me a boyfriend too because he was also responsible for encouraging a boy to go fishing rather than go out with me. Anyway, I cried all night and only Henny made me feel better. He’s always been a great shoulder to cry on.
This is me and Henny back in the days of yore.
I don’t know why I’m doing big starey eyes here. I hated having my photo taken though. Why have I no lips, and when on earth did I bleach my hair?
I don’t remember these things.
It’s a shame I had so few pictures taken because I remember so little at times it’s always good to have photos to prompt it. I’m wearing a Cannes Film Festival 1990 t-shirt. 22 years ago. Wow. How did I get so old?! I’ve more life between me and that time than I had in me in those days!
So, here’s Much Love to: ♥ Ford Capris ♥ Boyfriends with cars ♥ Michael Monroe ♥ Kiss ♥ Spending Sunday afternoons kissing ♥ The fact that my teenage years didn’t end up on Facebook before I got home quick enough to edit out any pictures of me with a) alcohol or b) cigarettes or c) kissing boys at gigs before my family saw them ♥ Cigarette bans in public places. Those old pubs smelled evil. ♥ Mix tapes ♥ Henny, who always looked after everyone and still does. No matter how much time passes, I know I could rely on him. And I’m not the only one. He has a heart of gold. ♥ Andy Mundy – the hairball next to me. He didn’t like pictures either. I have lots of pictures of his glorious hair. ♥ The summer of 1990, when everything was uncomplicated and my biggest worry was how I was going to get to Donington Monsters of Rock. The answer was in an old ambulance taxi thing that broke down after about 20 miles. We were towed there by the RAC and towed back by the AA.
I think these days seem so far away now that they seem but a dream within a dream, so here’s Edgar Allan Poe with my Monday poem for you
A couple of summers ago, I spent the entire summer listening to this album. Couldn’t tear it off my CD player in the car, I loved it that much.
It’s from MGMT who are a lot of fun. They’re fun because they sued Sarkozy’s UMP party when they used ‘Kids’ as part of a conference without paying royalties. Sarkozy with his holier-than-thou attitude to illegal downloads. Hmmm. They won as well. Also, any band who can take on the cynical life of a music star and put it to such a cute summertime squeaky beat deserve some kudos. It’s a trippy little take on the music business. My favourite lyric is this one: “I’ll move to Paris, shoot some heroin and fuck with the stars… you man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.” I think I like the idea of manning an island. It’s pre-recession joy.
Anyway, this Much Love Monday was almost a Forgot About It Tuesday. Or less a Forgot About It, more a Got Carried Away with Other Things Yesterday Tuesday post. This is because I’ve got two things going on – one is the inevitable marking, due to start on Wednesday, and the script I’m translating, which is very, very good. I love it when I get something really, really interesting to do – my fingers can’t go fast enough on this script. It’s true that you get ‘translator blues’ as much as you get ‘writer’s block’ – I get bored and think, ‘really? can I really be bothered to finish this?’ and then I start working backwards which seems to make the end a little nearer. I kind of kid myself I’ll revive my flagging interest that way. I can’t just write about shoes all day. And I did do some translation and content creation for a Monaco company about shoes. And believe me, it’s not interesting when you are writing ‘leather uppers’ fifteen times and trying to make up different ways of saying ‘this is a nice shoe and will look good on your foot’ when you have 100 shoes to do it for. ‘A glamorous evening shoe’ only works once.
Anyway, again, another busy week. Not only the collision of the polar ends of my work life: functional and dull compared to fabulous and so exciting I’d work on it all day, but also a couple of days out. Social life and work life collide and sleep takes a hit. I don’t really mind. Better busy than not.
However, it does make me a little grumpy and not have much love. It makes me crabby. But I like being crabby and cross. I enjoy it. I like having little mini-rants about things.
Like, why do people say they went to the ‘University of Life’? Is it because they a) didn’t go to University and somehow think that their life is empty because of it so they have to be ‘sarcastic’ about it, or do they think that I scorn them because I have University experience? Both are wrong. I know lots of wonderful non-academics just as I know many fab academics. And I don’t scorn anyone who hasn’t got a University education, though I scorn people who publish their writing and can’t use ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ correctly. That’s just simple grammar that six-year-olds learn. Some of the cleverest people I know left school at 14 or barely went at all. And some of the dullest have PhDs and other letters after their name.
What irks me about it is that they’re implying ‘life has taught them a lesson’ – and that perhaps, in contrast, I haven’t learned that lesson. Usually, the lesson has to be taught by Bad Stuff happening, as if you can only be wise and experienced if you’ve had cancer or someone has died or you’ve had a messy divorce. The University of Life seems to end up with a Degree of Bitterness and a Post-Graduate qualification in Feeling Hard Done To.
I feel the same about ‘The School of Hard-Knocks’. Oh really? Usually, the people who say they’ve been to ‘The School of Hard Knocks’ are middle-class white women who have the luxury of an education – something two thirds of the world don’t have access to beyond the age of 11, and something our ancestors of only four or five generations didn’t have either. School is a luxury, a bonus, a privilege, something most people take for granted who have it freely available to them. Maybe it should be taken away every generation or four just so we can remember that being able to read and write and moan about it on Facebook is a privilege that only landed upon us in the last few decades and in the select few countries. Now I feel a bit like the Yorkshire men from Monty Python, but it’s true that those who would so bitterly say they went to the School of Hard Knocks are usually the over-privileged minority who have the luxury of living in a G8 country, where school is a right and Hard Knocks usually means most of the people you know will live to their 70s, rather than school being something a few children have if they’re lucky and water and food aren’t a certainty from one hour to the next.
That’s a bit angry and grumpy for a Monday, so I’ll give you another clip:
That should remind you how lucky you are. School? Luxury.
p.s. if you have seen the Four Yorkshiremen before a hundred times, it’ll still make you laugh. It’s genuinely one of the funniest things ever written.
As for today’s poem, it is one that reminds me of the majesty of life:
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Today’s Much Love Monday is sponsored by Van Halen with ‘Jump’. To be accurate, it’s sponsored by David Lee Roth who is my ultimate Much Love Monday ‘feel good’ singer. You couldn’t feel depressed listening to DLR.
He always reminds me of my friend Danny who died in 1992. It’s 20 years ago now, but I can still see his smile if I think of him. Danny was one of the best people I ever knew and he reminded me a lot of Alastair, my brother. They’re both tall and skinny and sharp and funny. For the summer I was 17, it was me, Alison, Nick Gee and Danny – Nick had a little Fiat Panda and we spent a lot of time going places that year, I think.
I still remember getting the phone call from Andy Mundy to say that Danny was dead. I remember answering it in my mum’s bedroom, and I remember calling Alison. She came up to my house, and I went down to hers, and we kind of met half way on the street and cried and cried. I’d had a huge crush on Danny when I was about 15 – he was snake-hipped and funny, and those were about the two things I liked most in a boy. We’d meet up in Bury Interchange after I finished school and he finished college and then hang out outside Vibes.
Vibes was this record shop which dealt primarily in rock and metal. I bought all my great LPs there and I seriously think it was responsible for the majority of Bury being rockers – or at least it felt like it. In 1988, it was all just beginning for me. Groups of wayward teenagers would gather outside and frighten the grannies. Tattoos, long hair and skinny jeans were the order of the day.
I’ve yoinked this pic off facebook because I don’t have one quite so cool. My friend Mark is in the middle along with Gaz, Justin and Martin. You can see Vibes behind it. I worked Saturdays, so I didn’t get to hang out there with everybody else. When I see little emo kids or little goth kids congregating round town centres, it reminds me of us. We all had such good times.
Funnily, Mark – in the middle – not having such a good time of things at the moment. He was the one who gave me the Purple Haze nickname because I picked up this purple coat thing. I say ‘coat’ when I mean part of a stage costume I got in a second-hand store on Oxford Road. I remember that night we met as if it were yesterday. He was saying it was the first night he met me, but the first night he met Henny as well – Henny is right up there with Danny in that group of great people I knew. Those years between 1988-1991 were the best and I had such great, great friends, even if I had terrible (let’s say… unique) fashion sense.
And the fact that this purple ‘coat’ was a) from a production of Kismet, b) from a second hand shop c) purple d) with kimono sleeves e) with gold embroidery didn’t stop me wearing it at all. Any one of those reasons is a good reason, I’d say.
Anyway… those were the best of times with the best of friends. Here’s a very bad shot of me with all my favourite guys – Carl, Andy, Stu and Henny.
So here’s to those formative years, here’s to bad fashion, here’s to skinny jeans and big trainers, here’s to ink and long hair, here’s to friendship, here’s to Danny, here’s to purple coats and here’s Much Love for DLR who reminds me of all of these times.
Today, in Pam’s Poetry Corner, I have a haiku for you. It’s one of my favourite. I love haiku. They are so very simple, but so evocative.
How wild the sea is,
and over Sado Island,
the River of Heaven
So, Happy Monday to you. I’m off to the Plan d’eau at St Yrieix for some sunshine and fun. It’s Pentecost and the final bank holiday in the season of bank holidays. Tomorrow, it’s the GCSE exam paper I mark, so the marking season begins. I could do with a bit of zeal and holy spirit. Not so keen on the speaking in tongues though…
Today’s Monday song is a much-needed Kings of Leon burst of energy. We’ve still got rain and low temperatures. It makes it worse that last year it was so very warm. Here’s the Followills with Fans
Caleb Followill is right up there on several levels for me.
1. Man who I love with my whole heart
2. Singer who gets into my stomach and messes around with my heart
3. Possibly my personal best eggcorn.
If you don’t know about eggcorns, they’re expressions that sound kind of right but are mixed up. One of my favourites is ‘chester draws’ instead of ‘chest of drawers’. One I read last week was ‘middrift’ for ‘midriff’ – which is kind of funny because my midriff is kind of drifting. I’d also read ‘without further adieu’ for ‘without further ado’ as well last week – it was a definite week of eggcorns.
The KOL eggcorn was my brother-in-law talking about them.
“They’re into bread.” he said
In my mind, I had the following two scenarios:
1. a group who like sampling foccaccia, brioche, baguettes etc
2. a group who liked the seminal 70s band Bread – they of the badly-phrased ‘Baby I’m a want you’ and they of ‘Everything I own’.
Of course, my bother-in-law said ‘interbred’, casting aspersions on their lineage and genetics. Still, I like to think of them sitting around listening to ‘The Guitar Man’ and really rocking out to it.
I ♥ eggcorns and mis-hearings.
Steve’s favourite mis-hearings includes the famous Megadeth song ‘Neville’s Eyelid’ although I’m not sure that’s an eggcorn per se, rather than just a funny mis-hearing.
So what else am I loving this wet Monday morning, apart from the Kings of Leon and eggcorns?
I’m loving Game of Thrones, of course. I’m about halfway through book three – and there are just some adaptations that rule. I might do a top ten Tuesday about that some day. All being said, the casting is superb – especially Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. Quintessential fantasy fiction. Of course, Sean Bean dies about seven episodes in, but it was worth it to see him for all that time.
The Killing is also getting very, very good, though I believe it’s not been renewed and you never find out ‘who did it’. It’s kind of Twin Peaksy without the weirdness, Kyle McLaughlin or cherry pie.
Finally on my watch list is Grimm – right up my street. Fantasy combined with fairy stories combined with murders. The main character is also easy on the eye. I love a bit of fairy story retelling – Angela Carter being the master, of course. Angela Carter is a wonderful, wonderful writer – and her retelling of various fairy stories is just – ahhhh! A sensory, wordy delight. Not only that, if you haven’t read your children John Scieszka’s ‘The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales’ or ‘The True Story of the Three Little Pigs’ by A. Wolf then you’ve no idea just how great fairy stories can be.
Other things to love this week:
The hugeness of the broad bean crop and pea crop – last year’s dry weather made it very unproductive. I planted quadruple this year and it’s going to be A-B-U-N-D-A-N-T. What could be better than broad beans in a little butter? Broad bean risotto? Broad beans and chorizo? Broad beans and pancetta? Broad beans and feta? Broad beans and roasted peppers?
Not only that, but bar the Mediterranean crops – tomatoes, aubergines, peppers – everything is HUUUGE. Onions, beetroot, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cabbage – all loving the damp. Ah well.
Much Love to the last minute revision going on for GCSE – ebook sales have skyrocketed after a slower couple of months. I won’t be taking people out to lunch on the rewards, but one day it might mean I don’t have to slave for less than minimum wage as a GCSE marker as I did last year. Not Much Love for the muppets who think last minute revision is cool. One boy even asked me to write a sample essay for my teacher blog – for Thursday. Too little, too late springs to mind.
And today’s poetry corner, a little something else from Emily Dickinson
Hope” is the thing with feathers
“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.