England ’86 – Part 2

Here is part two of my day by day summary of the UK holiday my family took in 1986 (back to part one). I’ve already covered our trips to various manor houses, ancient sites and relatives, and when I left off we were hunkered down next to James Blunt’s windmill in Cley Next the Sea waiting for the radiation cloud from Chernobyl to arrive. What wacky adventures will we have next?

Wednesday April 30 -In the morning went out on a boat to see seals, but had to look at a bunch of boring birds first (undoubtedly at the insistence of fanatical twitcher Uncle Fran). Did eventually see a gratifying number of seals. In the afternoon went to look for fossils in the cliffs. Spend a few hours trying to dig out an extremely long bone that in retrospect was probably a tree root.

Thursday May 1st – Left Cley to head back to Frieth, but not before taking photos of James Blunt’s lambs at James Blunt’s windmill. Stopped off at ruins of Binham Priory, Castle Acre Priory and Castle Acre Castle, the later of which was extremely uninteresting. Had lunch at a motorway-side Happy Eater.

Friday May 2nd – Went to Windsor. Toured the Madame Tussauds “Victoria and Empire” exhibition at the railway station which was mostly waxworks of Queen Victoria getting on and off trains. Then went to the castle where we discovered that the Keep was closed, as were the Royal Apartments. We were however able to look at Queen Mary’s dollhouse and the dungeons (later to become notorious for hosting an entirely fictional species of venomous spider). Finally – for some reason – we went shopping for door knockers.

Saturday May 3rd – Headed out to Uffington as the Chernobyl radiation cloud passed over the country. Mum wisely elected to stay in bed. Saw the White Horse from close up which is arguably the worst way to see it, then visited Wayland’s Smithy which my brother found extremely creepy (either radiation getting to him or traumatic memories of The Moon Stallion).

Sunday May 4th – Church in the morning. A noticeably short service (possibly the Priest wanted to get away quickly to buy iodine tablets). Back to Uncle Fran’s to pack up and head for London. On the way I felt sick (undoubtedly radiation poisoning) and we stopped at a roadside parking area surrounded by “all sorts of junk”. Arrived at Grandmadge’s in Palmers Green in time for lunch.

Monday May 5th – Planned to walk around London but was wet in Palmers Green. Went into London anyway to see if weather was better. It wasn’t. Walked around London anyway. Mobbed by pigeons at Trafalgar Square. Walked to Piccadilly Circus via Admiralty Arch then went home.

Tuesday May 6th – Headed to Madame Tussauds. Many jokes made about Bob Hawke belonging in the Chamber of Horrors (parents dyed-in-the-wool Liberal voters). Brother and I most impressed with ‘Slush Puppies’ in restaurant. Mum – obviously ill from all the radiation – fell asleep during the planetarium show.

Wednesday May 7th – Hit up the Tower of London. Many photos taken of Beefeater who looked just like family friend back in Australia. Viewed crown jewels, spent rest of day chanting “move along please” in monotone like the guards. Visited Tower Bridge and were inside exhibition when a ship went through. Were unable to get out of exhibition to see ship go through as power was diverted from the lifts to the bascules. Contented ourselves looking out window at vertical road surface.

Thursday May 8th – Went to the Natural History Museum. Exhausted parents by insisting on looking at every exhibit including a “spcele sustmy” with computer games in it (unsure what’s worse, my spelling or handwriting). Had lunch, went to see the spiders. Spotted Uncle Tony in Children’s Gallery after which parents had to apologise to a random man with a vague resemblance to Uncle Tony. Moved to the Science Museum. Had to drag Dad away from the warplane exhibit. Went on the earthquake simulator at the Geology museum and watched a simulated volcanic eruption before heading home.

Friday May 9th – Went to Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Was shocked that we were allowed into the Crypt and then just as shocked that the Crypt was not a maze of crumbling tunnels full of skeletons and cobwebs. Was very impressed with Christopher Wren’s model of the Cathedral and quite disappointed that the real one was so toned down in comparison. Climbed up to the Whispering Gallery then refused to go any higher. Andrew and Mum continued all the way to the top while Dad had to stay behind and make sure I didn’t plunge over the railings in a fit of vertigo. Left the Cathedral to get lunch but everywhere was closed. Continued to the Museum of London which turned out to have a restaurant. Ate soup and toured the museum. Went home and had dinner at Uncle Tony’s favourite Italian restaurant where they served sorbet in hollowed out citrus fruit (unarguably the best way to serve sorbet).

Saturday May 10th – Did nothing of interest except have fish and chips for dinner while Dad and Uncle Tony watched the FA Cup final (Liverpool v. Everton at Wembley. Liverpool won 3-1).

Sunday May 11th – Went to church then had ‘a boring day’. In the evening ‘a visitor’ arrived and we ‘showed her lots of things’ which is so cryptic it would fit into in a Dan Brown novel.

Monday May 12th – Picked up Grandmadge from her sister’s place where she had been ‘having a rest’ – presumably from two hyperactive step-grandchildren. Drove back to Warsash in the rain.

Tuesday May 13th – Went into Southampton and visited the museum in the Bargate. Lunch at the cafe in the Owen Owen department store. Walked along the wall to the Maritime Museum in the old Wool House. Hit up the Archeology museum and discovered one of the towers in the city wall has the same name as Dad. Convinced the museum to part with one of their only two maps of the walls and went to gawk at said tower. Gawked at ruins of Castle and went home.

Wednesday May 14th – Went into Fareham for haircuts at random barbers. Spent entire cut gazing in astonishment at “Willy Grooming Kit” openly displayed on counter. Particularly confused by inclusion of comb, having not yet reached puberty. Barber parted my hair and sprayed some kind of lacquer on it – went out of my way to mess it up as soon as we left. Mum dropped off camera bag for repair at a shop. Went squirrel spotting at Aunty Mary’s work but they were all scared off by the lingering scent of hair lacquer.

Thursday May 15th – Were meant to go to Arundel but brother was sick so did nothing except walk into the village to post letters. Dropped one on the way, found it on the way back so went back to post it. Looked around ‘Lots of Things’ – apparently a store in the village (did we use some kind of remote viewing to show it to the mysterious visitor on May 11th?)

Friday May 16th – Brother had recovered so to Arundel we went. Visited the world famous and quite morbid Potter’s Museum of Curiosities – I was particularly taken with the diprosopic lamb. Sated chronic sorbet addiction at lunch. Drove to mechanical music museum which for some reason Mum enjoyed much more than Potter’s. Bought a tape of steam organ music that was played incessantly for the rest of our stay in the country (I still know Offenbach’s Galop Infernal by heart). Drove to World War II airfield museum where brother and I got to test out a mechanical Spitfire simulator being constructed out of assorted junk by a couple of actual Spitfire pilots – in retrospect probably the coolest experience of the entire trip.

Saturday May 17th – Quiet day. Mum, brother and Aunty Mary went to do the flowers at Saint Margaret Mary’s but I – tired of providing unpaid labour – plead off as sick.

Sunday May 18th – My brother’s birthday. Party with all the relatives (after church, of course). Gifts included various Transformers and a postcard album, and the cake was a hedgehog with flake for spines and smarties for eyes.

Monday May 19th – Headed to Beaulieu. Took in the car museum including the “Wheels” ride-through exhibition on the history of cars. Most impressed with the future of cars which is (apparently) insect-legged pods on the moon. Played with the remote control cars and rode the monorail, which seemed an odd inclusion at a site devoted to the celebration of private transport. Visited the Abbey where a sign stated that the presence of ghostly monks could be detected by a smell of roses, placed right next to a giant bowl of potpourri. Listened to a steam calliope in the carpark and were handed passes to a free tour of a nearby stately home the next day.

Tuesday May 20th – Went to the free tour at Elmer’s Court which turned out to be a pitch for timeshares. Mum and Dad happily went through the entire presentation and tour of the facilities before telling the salesman that we were tourists from Australia and hence had no interest. Absolutely savage.

Wednesday May 21st – Drove up to London. Stopped for lunch at the Fleet Services on the M3 which – due to the bridge over the motorway – I thought was the most amazing place I’d ever seen.

Thursday May 22nd – Returned to the Natural History Museum to look at bats, then headed to the Houses of Parliament. Tried to see Westminster Hall but it was closed. Went to visit Westminster Abbey. It was closed. Decided to visit the Abbey Cloisters. They were closed. Cabinet War Rooms were open. Mum annoyed by brother and I bothering her while she listened to Churchill speeches. Stumbled over the Jewel Tower museum. Walked to Horse Guards then to Buckingham Palace.

Friday May 23rd – Got tube to Victoria Station then walked to Coach Station which was “dirty”. Had lunch there anyway. Boarded bus to Liverpool. Air conditioning and all but one TV broken. One working TV played Police Academy which I thought was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. Picked up in Liverpool by Aunty Jo (the Nun) who drove us – like a maniac – to the school for the blind of which she was principal.

Saturday May 24th – Packed a picnic lunch and headed for Wales. Forgot that it was a Bank Holiday weekend and hence every other person in Liverpool was also headed for Wales. Finally crept across the border after hours in traffic and pulled into the first layby we found. Ate our sandwiches in the drizzle and drove back to Liverpool. Spent several hours playing Robin of Sherwood in the bouncy play.

Sunday May 25th – After the inevitable church we drove to a manor house to see a flower show. Discovered it didn’t start until next week. Went to a different manor house that didn’t have a flower show but did have a miniature railway and a “disco bounce” (whatever that may be…). Did penance for disco bouncing by visiting an elderly Nun.

Monday May 26th – Bank Holiday. Went to Southport, bought some new bathers and had a game of croquet with the parents of a friend back in Australia.

Tuesday May 27th – Blackpool. So windy that my brother (a skinny child medically prescribed cooking chocolate to try and bulk him up) was almost blown away down the street. Lifts in Blackpool Tower weren’t working and (to my disgust) Mum and Dad refused to consider the stairs. Won 80p in a penny drop machine but could not resist the allure of greater riches and immediately lost it. Visited a “friend” who lived in some flats. Dropped in to the Formby red squirrel sanctuary on the way back where the opportunity to photograph a squirrel posing on a tree stump was ruined by a bunch of idiots who drove in with their radio blaring at full volume. SQUIRRELS DO NOT APPRECIATE FALCO!!

Wednesday May 28th – Drove cross country to York. Queued for an hour at the Jorvik Viking Centre, but were most impressed by the viking having a difficult time in the outhouse. Took in York Minster which was still being rebuilt after God smote it with a lightning bolt two years earlier. Examined the bosses designed by Blue Peter viewers. Went through the Castle Museum and climbed the mound to Clifford’s Tower. Bought a loaf of bread shaped like a hedgehog then drove back to Liverpool.

Thursday May 29th – Went into Liverpool where we visited both the “Cristen” and “ANGLEGEN” cathedrals (Anglicans, of course, famously not counting as “Cristens”). Had lunch in the cloisters then visited the Immigration Museum in the docks. Saw a barge.

Friday May 30th – Packed for Scotland and tried again for the flower show. This time it was actually there. Had a picnic by the nearby lake. Goodbye dinner with the Nuns.

End of Part Two! Check back soon to discover what pleasures and perils await in the bonny, freshly-irradiated glens of Scotland!


England ’86 – Part 1

Here follows the first part of a day by day summary of the trip my parents, brother and I made to the UK in 1986, culled from my diary and vague memories. I’m posting it mostly for my own convenience (what is a blog if not an online notebook?) but perhaps some others may find it momentarily distracting…

Friday March 21st to Saturday March 22st – Flying from Perth to London via Mumbai (or “Bombay” as it was called at the time). We bought fancy leather wallets decorated with the Taj Mahal at Mumbai airport (mine was pickpocketed before we even got back on the plane). Met by Mum’s family at Heathrow and driven to Aunty Mary and Uncle Doug’s place in Warsash.

Sunday March 23rd – Attended Palm Sunday Mass at Saint Mary Margaret’s at Park Gate

Monday March 24th – Shopping at Fareham. How exciting!

Tuesday March 25th – Trip into Southampton

Wednesday March 26th – Brother and I drive up the M3 to London with Uncle Tony. Stay with him and Grandmadge (Mum’s stepmother) in Palmer’s Green.

Thursday March 27th – Brother and I act as two of 800 altar servers at the Chrism Mass at Winchester Cathedral. Other 798 English altar servers harass us mercilessly because the hymns are sung to different tunes in Australia and we keep getting the notes wrong. I am also quite disappointed that Westminster Cathedral is not Westminster Abbey.

Friday March 28th – Good Friday Service, I presume at Saint Monica’s, Palmers Green.

Saturday March 29th – Driven back to Warsash by Uncle Tony. Take back roads rather than motorway and are hit by a vicious hailstorm. Back at Warsash attend Easter vigil mass even though I would rather be asleep. Sang like a crow in protest.

Sunday March 30th – Easter Sunday. Brother and I wake up early and look for eggs. Don’t find any because “they don’t do that in England”. In retrospect this is a damnable lie to cover for the parents forgetting to hide them. Pick up Aunty Jo (who is a nun – Oh, did I not mention Mum’s family are Catholics?) from Southampton Coach Station.

Monday March 31st – English relatives had kept back my birthday presents earlier in the year so we could have a fake birthday party for me today. Very gratifying. Hampton Court Palace catches on fire. Less gratifying.

Tuesday April 1st – Went to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Learned the Butser Bill Song. Visited the Butser Ancient Farm where they were experimenting with smelting iron. Got a really cool looking piece of iron ore. Went to Portchester Castle, but the castle bit within the walls was closed. Saw a set of medieval spurs that had been dug up only a few days before.

Wednesday April 2nd – Went to Portsmouth to see what was left of the Mary Rose, which was not much and mostly obscured by water cannons. Then we “saw bamby”. I presume this means we went to the movies and saw Bambi, but I have no recollection of it.

Thursday April 3rd – Dropped Aunty Jo back at the Southampton coach station, then went to an art gallery. Found a shooting range set up in the back of a truck by “the Regiment”, presumably as a recruiting gimmick. I missed everything, Dad (an Airforce reservist) effortlessly hit every target.

Friday April 4th – Went to Winchester. Visited various Military Museums and then the Cathedral. Was very puzzled about how someone could swim beneath the cathedral to fix the foundations.

Saturday April 5th – Got up “at 2:00am” to arrange flowers at Saint Mary Margaret’s. I hope I was being sarcastic when I wrote that.

Sunday April 6th – Church at Saint Mary Margaret’s followed by a long walk on the beach where my brother found an intriguingly shaped stone.

Monday April 7th – Visited Fishbourne Roman Palace, followed by Arundel Castle. Annoyed the guide at Arundel by immediately identifying the ‘unicorn horn’ as coming from a narwhal and ruining his spiel. Was quite impressed by the stuffed owl from an extinct species, apparently not realising that it went extinct because people kept shooting it to stuff and put on display.

Tuesday April 8th – The Tudor House Museum in Southampton.

Wednesday April 9th -Spent some time sitting in a car looking for squirrels in “a long driveway”. I suspect this was the driveway at Aunty Mary’s work.

Thursday April 10thNetley Abbey, Netley Castle and what’s left of Netley Hospital (not much).

Friday April 11th – Got caught by snow at Stonehenge. Retreated to Old Sarum and then Salisbury Cathedral.

Saturday April 12th – Back at Saint Mary Margaret’s, cleaning the brass work (we didn’t get paid for any of this).

Sunday April 13th – Church (naturally). Lunch at Mary and Doug’s friends Sheila and Mike’s for their daughter Sarah’s birthday.

Monday April 14th – The Dorchester Dinosaur Museum. Impressed in equal part by the dinosaur bones and a computer (it was 1986, give me a break). Stopped into another museum to identify my brother’s rock. Conclusion… it’s a rock. Visited the Roman Townhouse. Now, I know that at one point we visited Maiden Castle, but my diary doesn’t mention it. Maybe it was on our previous UK trip a few years earlier?

Tuesday April 15th – Went to the New Forest Butterfly Farm. Bought Mum a keyring with a preserved scorpion in it because that’s the kind of thing small boys think is awesome. Visited Breamore house and saw the cursed portrait that kills anyone who touches it and hadn’t been cleaned in over a century. Was terrified that Dad would volunteer to dust it.

Wednesday April 16th – Drove to Burgess Hill to visit ‘friends’. This is the first of several entries about going out of our way to visit ‘friends’. These were all people Mum and Dad happened to know but anyone reading the diary could easily assume we were involved in some kind of cult.

Thursday April 17th – Visited Broadlands House. Decided that a hidden movie theatre is the ultimate home accessory.

Friday April 18th – Drove to Wells via the Pelican pub at Serrington. Saw the Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace where the swans are trained to ring a bell when they want food (which must get bloody annoying). Continued on to Cheddar Gorge where my brother saw a sign warning of falling rocks and spent the rest of the drive cowering in his seat with his arms over his head. Visited various caves and their associated tourist traps. Was not impressed by one of the caves having a concreted floor.

Saturday April 19th – Drove to Bath. Stopped at the Pelican in Serrington again which quite freaked out the staff who (it being 1986) had no convenient Bill Murray movie to reference. In Bath we started at the Georgian Pump House where we got to try the water (which was utterly foul). Visited the Roman Baths museum, then the Baths themselves, then the costume museum which Mum loved and I found extremely boring. Walked around town to see the Circus, the Royal Crescent, the bridge with shops on it and the Abbey which has angels climbing ladders carved on the front. Finally we hit up the toy museum which the oldies enjoyed even more that my brother and I did.

Sunday April 20th – Church of course. Then an auction in the Parish Hall where we tried to buy an “owl hand pointing” whatever that may be. Got a phone call from Radio Devon who we’d previously spoken to about finding some relatives down that way. I presume they had found some.

Monday April 21st – Trailed all around Fareham trying to buy plaster of paris for some reason.

Tuesday April 22nd – Visited Titchfield Abbey which was crawling with school kids (who let them in?). Then drove to visit the Bishop’s Palace at Bishop’s Waltham, but it was closed.

Wednesday April 23rd – Left Warsash to go and stay with Uncle Fran and his wife Sally in Frome.

EDIT: It turns out Uncle Fran actually lived in Frieth which makes some of the places we visited while staying with him much more sensible

Took in Avebury along the way where parents insisted we waste a whole load of time looking at the Manor House instead of visiting every single standing stone and Silbury Hill which was my preference.

Thursday April 24th – Drove to the Bekonscot Model Village, and then took in Stonor on the way back to Frieth.

Friday April 25th – Visited Hampton Court, which had suffered a major fire on my fake birthday a few weeks earlier. This didn’t bother me as all I was interested in was the maze. Watched some people play Royal Tennis. Around midnight UK time – while we were tucked up in bed back in Frieth – some engineers in the Ukrainian SSR carried out a very poorly planned safety test on a nuclear reactor at some place named ‘Chernobyl’.

Saturday April 26th – Assisted Uncle Fran in laying paving slabs in his garden, then went for a walk in the woods to see a badger sett. Over in the Ukrainian SSR the worst nuclear disaster in human history continued on its merry way.

Sunday April 27th – Skipped church. Haha, who am I kidding? After church visited Sally’s grandmother then went to Whipsnade Zoo, of which I have absolutely no memory. We then visited the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, which was a major disappointment in every way.

Monday April 28th – The Soviet Union broke its silence on Chernobyl. Rather than wait for the radiation to come to us in Buckinghamshire we drove off to meet it at Uncle Fran’s other house in Norfolk. Took shelter underground at Grimes Graves, then stumbled over the rather amateurish Iceni Village at Cockley Cley. Finally arrived at Uncle Fran’s house at Cley Next the Sea right next to James Blunt’s windmill.

Tuesday April 29th – Went in to Norwich. Visited the Cathedral and the Castle Museum where they apparently had dragons. Appropriately we went on to have dinner at the George and Dragon back in Cley, where I imagine the conversation centred around iodine tablets.

End of Part One! Check back soon for more radiation soaked adventures in Thatcher’s Britain!


An Intimate Relationship with Fossil Fuels

It has come to my attention that there doesn’t seem to be a decent version of the lyrics to the Chasers’ appallingly obscene yet incredibly funny take on our appalling former Prime Minister’s intimate relationship with fossil fuels. I cannot let this stand, so here is my best shot at a transcription.


Fuck you, and your family, and the essential services you rely on,
Right now – as a criminal – the thing I love is corruption,
Fuck you other cunts facing floods and the bushfires,
When disaster strikes I’m ready to go on vacation in Hawaii,

Coal makes me hard, coal makes me cum,
My dick is always hard for coal,
And it’s only getting harder,
Coal makes me hard, coal makes me cum,
But the thing I love about coal,
Is it doesn’t run away in disasters,

All those build up, and when those floods build up, well, we know what happens,
It makes me hard when I think about coal,
New South Wales used to party hard and we endеd all of that,
So we could have more coal, the dеstroying of fun, I want you cunts to know,

I’m a criminal with a capital ‘C’,
I love coal!
I’m a criminal, Mister, Mister, Mister,

I want to destroy the world,

Coal makes me hard, coal makes me cum,
My dick is always hard for coal,
And it’s only just begun,

Bullying, bullying, bullying, and I want you cunts to die,
China, China, China, being racist gets me hard,
It’s Australia’s fault that I’m such a cunt,
This election is a choice,
For the destroying of lives, people would die,
Attention to genocide,

PM I think we’re going to have to move on…


Meine seltsame Freizeitbeschäftigung

Have I mentioned my strange hobby of translating Rammstein songs into English?

Jolly Neue Deutsche Härte minstrels Rammstein sure know how to construct a terrifying wall of Teutonic sound, and it’s a lot of fun to fight back against their particular style of sonic assault by singing along. However there’s something unsatisfying about growling out German words that you don’t understand and which no actual German would understand either because they’re not actually German words, they’re just your dime-store impersonation of what it sounds like Till Lindemann is muttering/bawling about.

(Photo by Sven Mandel)

There are a few ways to deal with this. One – of course – would be to learn German. This however is a lot of hard work for someone as lazy as I am. Another would be to memorise the lyrics of every Rammstein song along with their correct pronunciations, but that would take up memory space that could be more profitably used to store odd facts about the history of London or the exact taxonomical relationships between members of the Latrodectus genus of widow spiders. So I choose the easy route and write English lyrics that attempt to preserve the general meaning of the German ones while fitting the tunes and rhyming in the right places.

This is not as difficult as might be thought. English and German are very closely related, both being members of the West Germanic language family (along with Dutch, Frisian, Yiddish and a few others), which means simple German sentences tend to be about the same length as and use similar words to their English equivalents. Many can be understood right away or with only a few seconds’ thought – for instance…

  • Wir haben ein Problem
  • Hier kommt die Kavallerie!
  • Die Katze ist gut, ja?
  • Hast du Schweinefleisch?
  • Mein Hovercraft ist voll von Aalen!
  • Oh, lass nicht zu, dass die Räder deines Corporation-Lastwagens, der schmutziges Wasser aus Löchern saugt, über einen armen alten Mann fahren!

As such, translating a song from German into English is fairly simple, especially when compared to doing the same for a song from a different language group (I once tried translating a song out of Moldovan and almost died).

So my latest attempt is an English version of the song that taught millions of people the wrong German word for “ten” – Sonne

(I’ve left the counting in German because it’s obvious what it is and sounds so much better than boring old “one, two, three”. Furthermore ‘vier’ sounds like ‘fear’ and ‘sechs’ like ‘sex’, the combination of which sum up Rammstein’s music pretty accurately…)

Translated into (mostly) English by Purple Wyrm

Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, aus!

We’re all waiting for the light,
Be afraid but don’t take fright,
The sun is shining from my eyes…

Tonight the sunset will not come,
And the world, it counts along,

Here comes the sun!
Here comes the sun!
Of all the stars the brightest one!
Here comes the sun!

The sun is shining from my palms,
It can burn and blind and harm,
When it breaks out of my grip,
It falls upon your face and lips,

Tonight the sunset will not come,
And the world, it counts along,

Here comes the sun!
Here comes the sun!
Of all the stars the brightest one!
Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!
Here comes the sun!
Of all the stars the brightest one!
Acht! Neun!
Here comes the sun!

The sun is shining from my palms,
It can burn and blind and harm,
When it breaks out of my grip,
It falls upon your face and lips,
It forces hard against your chest,
Digs it’s claws into your flesh,
It hurls you down, your senses gone!
And the world, it counts along!

Here comes the sun!
Here comes the sun!
It is the brightest star of all!
And from the sky will never fall!

Here comes the sun!
Here comes the sun!
Of all the stars the brightest one!
Acht! Neun!
Here comes the sun!

The Hottest 70 2022

Yes girls, boys and others, once again it’s time to vote for the ten best songs of the year in the Triple J Hottest 100!

Or rather it would be if I could find 10 songs worth voting for…

I have a list of seven excellent songs, but finding an additional three is currently stymieing me. There are two that I could put in but neither quite meets my standards for a vote-worthy track. Voting is open for quite a while yet so I’ve got time to try and fill out the list, but it is worryingly symptomatic of a modern music scene in the process of entirely losing its way.

(Or, you know, I’m just old).

In any case, here are the songs I intend to vote for,

Backseat of My Mind – Thelma Plum

You know when you hear a song for the very first time and it somehow fits into a hole in your brain that you didn’t know was there so snugly that you feel like you’ve known it for years? That’s the way it is for me with this song, which is my undoubted favourite for the entire year. Every second of it is aural perfection – including the electronic sounds hidden beneath the fade out.

(The dog is named Tex.)

Sirens – Flume featuring Caroline Polachek

Without Caroline Polachek’s ethereal vocal this track would be little more that a pile of sound effects snaffled from the dumpster out the back of Skrillex’s house. With it, it’s incredible!

Haircut – Alex the Astronaut

I’ve been a fan of Alex’s music ever since Not Worth Hiding because the unofficial anthem of the Marriage Equality non-binding-non-compulsory-postal-survey back in 2017 (call it a vote and I’ll kick you). They’ve been hitting it out of the park ever since with material that not just represent the autistic experience (and I presume the queer experience), but are just damn good songs on their own merits. This one is a downright joy-filled piece about figuring out and celebrating who you are. I challenge you not to belt out the chorus every time it comes on.

(I never made it to the glow worm cave either and it’s a pain that never stops!)

Forever Drunk – Peach PRC

I loved Peach’s first release Josh, but wasn’t terribly impressed by her second God is a Freak which I found didn’t have a lot going for it either musically or theologically. This one however is catchy as hell, even if I can’t help wondering if she has to pay royalties to Alphaville for the hook.

2 be Loved (Am I Ready) – Lizzo

Lizzo’s music has been wildly popular for the last few years, but none of it has ever appealed to me. I’ve got nothing against it, or against her, it’s just not my kind of music. This track however works for me. It’s great!

Big City Life – Luude and Mattafix

I was a big fan of Mattafix’s 2005 original, and this drum and bass remix takes everything good about it and gives it an energetic kick. Great work!

Summer in New York – Sofi Tukker

If you’re going to sample a classic then you’d better do something good with it. Sofi Tukker has made that grade by building a catchy as hell song around Suzanne Vega going “da-da-dada”. Suzanne was content to drink her coffee and watch the world go by but Sofi manages to make an entire day and night of it in one of the greatest cities on Earth (is she getting paid for all the name drops?)

So those are the seven tracks I’m voting for. As for the two I’m iffy about…

Grapefruit – Tove Lo

I quite like this track and it’s on an important subject, but there’s just something slightly off about that I can’t figure out. Maybe the blippety-bloppety sounds in the chorus? But I’m usually totally in favour of blippety-bloppety sounds? I really don’t know…

Coal Makes Me Come – DJ Scomo

I would like to lay claim to be being a mature and sober adult with some kind of standards, but this extremely juvenile remix of our former, unlamented Prime Minister explaining his deep contempt for the Australian people and his sensual love of fossil fuels makes me laugh like a drain, so I can’t.

News flash! While trying to track down the identity of Tove Lo’s song I actually stumbled over a couple of other recent tracks that are good enough for consideration. So it looks like I may not have a problem after all!

6am – Chanel Tres

Colin – Lime Cordiale

Stay tuned for a final decision!

The Lord President can do Whatever he Damn Well Pleases

Andy Bell, Lord President of Gallifrey

I was quite startled this week to discover that Erasure’s synthpop classic about Timelord on Dæmon violence in a Chinese garden – Always – was not recorded as I assumed in about 1983, but over a decade later in 1994 when I was apparently so confounded by my first year at university that it completely passed me by.

I could make some snide comments about being behind the times, but when you consider some of the other music being released in the early to mid 90s, determinedly clinging to the styles of the 80s seems quite sensible. Also they threw a bar of 5/4 time in there which is the kind of tricksy musical tomfoolery I’ll always support.

Temperatures plummet when the giant Dæmon appears. This makes perfect sense if you’ve watched episodes 21 to 26 of Season 8 of the original Doctor Who
The Lord President of Gallifrey can’t fly? The Lord President of Gallifrey can do whatever he damn well pleases!

I’m Purple Wyrm, what’s YOUR Disability?

It really can be a lot of fun to read through the personality disorders articles on Wikipedia.

For instance, I display enough of the symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder to make Sigmund Freud yell “Mein Gott!”. However many of these are accounted for by Aspergers Syndrome – which I have a formal diagnosis for – and the rest by Avoidant Personality Disorder, which I don’t have a diagnosis for but who are we kidding?

Throw in a fearful-avoidant attachment style and it’s a non stop emotional thrill ride simply existing as me!

The root causes of these kind of things are not well defined. They’re sometimes linked to childhood neglect and abuse, but there’s none of that in my background. Much more likely is the general trauma of growing up autistic in a non-autistic world without knowing that you’re autistic and that’s the reason everything is so confusing and difficult – rather that you being a dysfunctional, worthless freak.

In any case I’m well into middle-age now, so I only have to put up with this stupidity for another 50 years or so before the sweet release of death – and with all the work I’ve put in living like this I can manage that with my eyes closed. Bring it on, universe! You ain’t broken me yet and I have no intention of letting you, you gigantic prick!

A Child’s Treasury of Misheard Lyrics

A random collection of song lyrics that I have got amusingly wrong over the years.

Song: Hounds of Love
Artist: The Futureheads (covering Kate Bush)
Misheard Line: I found a box powered by dogs
Actual Lyric: I found a fox cornered by dogs
Commentary: Sunderland accents, you know?

Song: Dancing in the Dark
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Misheard Line: Here’s a joke, here’s some wine, and it’s on me
Actual Lyric: There’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me
Commentary: I though the Boss was being a gracious host, offering his listeners entertainment and drinks at his own cost.

Song: Enter Sandman
Artist: Metallica
Misheard Line: It’s still light, enter night
Actual Lyric: Exit light, enter night
Commentary: Not particularly significant, but Fabes almost punched me when he heard me singing it.

Song: Twist in my Sobriety
Artist: Tanita Tikaram
Misheard Line: Look my eyes are just hollow grounds, look your love has drawn me from my hounds
Actual Lyric: Look my eyes are just holograms, look your love has drawn red from my hands
Commentary: Let’s face it, my version sounds much more mysterious and interesting.

Song: The Riddle
Artist: Nik Kershaw
Misheard Line:
By a tree by a river there’s a hole in the ground, where an old man in shadow walks around and around, in his mind is a question in the veil of the night, for a strange kind of person there’s a wrong and a right, he will never, never change
Actual Lyric:
Near a tree by a river there’s a hole in the ground, where an old man of Aran goes around and around, and his mind is a beacon in the veil of the night, for a strange kind of fashion there’s a wrong and a right, he will never, never fight over you
Commentary: In my defence Nik Kershaw himself describes the lyrics as “nonsense, rubbish, bollocks, the confused ramblings of an 80s popstar”

Song: Justified and Ancient (Stand by the JAMs)
Artist: The KLF featuring Tammy Wynette
Misheard Line: They’re justified and ancient, ancient and they’re justified, rocking to the rhythm in the ice cream van, got the plan and the key to enter enter Mu Mu, far from the trogs of the JAMS, on my way to Beebeezak, ’cause I know what time it is, treatin’ on the time, make a modern 99, loose style, meanwhile, own store militia while fishing in the rivers of life
Actual Lyric: Justified and ancient, ancient and a-justified, rocking to the rhythm in their ice cream van, with the plan and the key to enter into Mu Mu, vibes from the tribes of the JAMS, I know where the beat is at, ’cause I know what time it is, bring home a dime, make mine a 99, new style, meanwhile, always on a mission while fishing in the rivers of life
Commentary: With everything else going on in this track it’s a wonder I managed to get the words that close.

Song: Mowgli’s Road
Artist: Marina and the Diamonds
Misheard Line: Oh Lord now I can see, recovery will keep on chasing me
Actual Lyric: Oh Lord now I can see, the cutlery will keep on chasing me
Commentary: I thought this was a well crafted line about the never quite complete process of recovery from mental and emotional trauma, but instead it – and indeed the entire song – is gibberish about being chased by spoons (I suppose you could interpret it as a reference to heroin addiction if you really wanted to). Marina Diamandis has disowned her entire first album, including this song, but I’m still happy to crank it and howl along.

Song: Friday I’m in Love
Artist: The Cure
Misheard Line: Tuesday, Wednesday hard to tak(e) and Thursday watch the wars instead
Actual Lyric: Tuesday, Wednesday heart attack and Thursday watch the walls instead
Commentary: The gibberish filled bridge about watching people eat and spinning sheep I got 100% right though.

Song: Brown Eyed Girl
Artist: Van Morrison
Misheard Line: Gunned down the old man with a transistor radio
Actual Lyric: Goin’ down the old mine with a transistor radio
Commentary: I always thought this was a brilliant line on the rebelliousness of youth, the importance of music to the young and the liberation not just inherent to rock and roll but of the sudden ability to easily transport music brought about by the transistor revolution. Turns out Van Morrison simply ain’t that smart.

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