Category Archives: Kinks

Sunday, 10th September, 2017

Business of the day:

Home, James! And don’t spare the InterCity 125!

But first, breakfast at Monkeynuts. Because that’s what we do on such occasions. The breakfast plate (not the veggie option, thank you!) and two mugs of latte.

Then the 91 down to King’s Cross. Since it’s Sunday morning, that’s a whizz all the way.

Hang around for Virgin East Coast to flag up the platform number. A scamble through to platform 3. It’s the Inverness train, so it’s a diesel 125, not the electric jobs. On the other hand, it’s first stop York, and nominally a shade off two hours. Plus those refurbished Mark 3 coaches are still as good as it comes (the Mark 4s seem to have more cramped seating and less leg-room).

There’s a bit of hanging around in the north midlands, but else it’s Warp Speed, and we arrive almost on time — and that’s not the norm for a weekend service.

The York Citaro bendy-bus from the station to the top of our road: barely a hundred yards and we’re in the house.

And that’s it.

Carte du jour:

As above for Monkeynuts.

Tea from our own pot. The daughter and grand-sons paid an overnight visit and left milk in the fridge. But also, we find, clothes in the washing-machine.

The lightest of evening meals.

Beers of the day:

Give it a rest! Tea and Adam’s Ale (with orange cordial).

Quotes of the day:

Almost anything from Andrew Rawnsley’s Observer column, but his last bit seems portentous:

It is one of the paradoxes of minority governments that they can be both acutely vulnerable and remarkably durable. They are easy to wound, but much harder to kill. This could be a long fight.

Those of us who lived thought the examples Rawnsley cites (Callaghan’s long years’ journeys into the Thatcherite night, and the dark extended tea-time of John Major’s soul-less trek) would recognise that. This time, though, it could be even worse.

Rawnsley must be read alongside the opposite, editorial page. The two go together like stewed rhubarb and custard:

Britain has a Tory problem and, as the clock ticks, it is growing critical. The irresponsible behaviour of many Conservatives at this fraught juncture in the country’s affairs is nothing less than a national disgrace. How can May and her senior colleagues hope to negotiate an orderly exit from the EU when, leaking and briefing against each other, they cannot agree on handling even the most basic issues? How dare David Davis, the Brexit minister, repeatedly try to mislead parliament and the public with his patronising, faux-cheery accounts of the Brussels negotiations, claiming falsely that useful progress is being made? Such breathtaking disingenuousness echoes last year’s mendacious Leave campaign. It is equally objectionable.

By what twisted reasoning do Liam Fox, Jacob Rees-Mogg and fellow hard-Brexit Tories claim a mandate for foisting their extremist minority views on the majority of voters? Whether or not they backed Brexit 15 months ago, most people rightly fear a 2019 cliff-edge meltdown damaging livelihoods, incomes and their children’s and grand-children’s futures. Fox, minister for trade deals sans trade deals, embarrassed Britain, his hosts and himself during a recent visit to Japan by accusing the EU commission of blackmail. It was an ill-judged jibe that said more about the chaos characterising the government’s ineffectual stance than it did about Brussels.

Grief! We live in benighted, squalid, little country!

Ear-worm of the day:

In the RV1 bus last evening, coming back over Waterloo Bridge, with a bright sun lowering up the river. Trum-twiddle-trum-twiddle-trum-trum:

What else?



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Filed under Andrew Rawnsley, Kinks, London, Observer, politics, travel

One last 1970/2016 thing … Lola!

Four New Years since I was in the Bald Faced Stag in East Finchley. The boozer was crowded: a ticket-only affair.

It wasn’t going too well. The DJ had tried several rabble-rousers; but the rabble remained unroused. So he went therm0-nuclear: played The Kinks’ Lola.

The joint was suddenly jumping. It helped that the Davies brothers sprang from half-a-mile back up Fortis Green.

The clip above is from the Jools Holland Hootenanny a couple of years back. It’s Ray Davies solo — but, if you’re so dumb not to have numerous versions already saved (and I’ve half-a-dozen at least on just one iPod), YouTube will oblige.

So: I’m back to Norf Bleeding’ Lunnun for this New Year (though not at the Stag); and confidently expect Lola to show up.

One last mystery: how the heck can a narrative of not the wold’s most physical guy being picked up in a clip-joint by a tranny sell so well, everywhere?

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Filed under Kinks, London, Muswell Hill, pubs, Quotations

Dave revisited

Way, way back, when Malcolm’s Home and Away Services were blogspotted, he found himself pre-occupied with the multiplicity of Daves.

twangThat was prompted in part by George Strait’s 2009 album, Twang. Then newly-released it was thoroughly raspberries by Steve Morse, reviewing it for the Boston Globe. Across the Great Divide, Randy Lewis for the LA Times nailed it as:

a pretty nifty summation of what commercial country is, circa 2009.

Note that “commercial”. It is not a compliment, but it makes one wonder what “uncommercial country” must amount. Particularly so when it’s a “big hat”act.

Anyway, Twang includes a song, Arkansas Dave (a folksy old-fashioned C&W morality, credited to Strait’s son):

He rode up on a winter day,
Steam rising off the street, they say.
Said, “You probably know my name:
If you don’t it’s Arkansas Dave.

He talked of fifteen years ago,
And how he got to play hero.
Said he killed a man in Ohio:
First man he killed, first horse he stole.

Marty Robbins did this kind of thing with more style, and more originality, a half century gone.

Johnny Cash could, and did, do it sequentially — starting with Don’t Take Your Guns to Town in 1958. When Strait’s boastful (and totally forgettable — Malcolm wishes he could purge it from his memory) Dave ends up miscalculating the odds, and dead in that same street, we are not prostrate in bestaggerment.

Still, let’s hear the good stuff:

In honour of Diddy Dave Cameron, who hasn’t been having a good few days of late, what other lyrics celebrate the forename of the moment?

11021614438_3-W231His Name is Alive, on the King of Sweet album (not Malcolm’s sort of thing, at all, but if you have one, don’t shout about it: it’s worth the odd bob) did two in a row: Ode on a Dave Asman and A Dave in the Life.

Boomtown Rats achieved something eponymous and a bit better known (Pete Townsend rated it), as the opener for The Long Grass album:

But please,
The view from on your knees
Keep going, Dave.

That one was deep into the trans-Atlantic deep doodoo. The US executives thought it odd that a man might sing a love song to a “Dave”. It had to be re-recorded and issued as Rain. There is a clip on YouTube, but it’s blocked in the UK.
Then we have Caffein(UK punk-rockers, on the road less-taken — unfairly so) doing Dave’s Song (In Slow Motion):

I looked up to the sky, and I saw a figure
It was small with shiny lights;
And out of this, this little blue figure,
With the small shining lights
Stepped a little blue man,
With a little blue figure
And he said to me “Do you believe?”

Some kind of psychological profile is emerging here; and it doesn’t flatter Daves.

Let’s go to the movies …

Dave (1993)On the great Silver Screen (but more at home on off-off-peak sitting-room TV), there was Kevin Kline’s 1993 outing as Dave.

In Malcolm’s view, that was a more than decent movie: light, frothy, with a heart in the proper place. It references two recognisable characters:

  • the scheming, creepy, on-the-make Bob Alexander (played by Frank Langella), the inspiration for subsequent melodramatic villains of the Dubya coyer: Karl Rove and Veep Cheney;


  • the decent, honourable Vice-President Nance (a cameo for Ben Kingsley). He takes the name from “Cactus Jack”, FDR’s first Vice-President, John Nance Garner, and his unacceptably-progressive (except in the company of such as President Jed Bartlet) ideology from FDR’s second, Henry Agard Wallace. In historical terms, just as well that FDR’s death precipitated his third pick, Harry Truman, who deservedly gets into everyone’s Top Ten of all time, into the job.

The slogan on which Dave was advertised went:

In a country where anybody can become President, anybody just did.

The US of A allows even a self-confessed “mutt, like me” to reach the highest office in the land, but, as far as Malcolm can recall, the only time a real “David” made it into the White House, he was David Dwight Eisenhowe (and he didn’t make too bad a show of it). In the UK, of course, it helps to see a Dave through if he has royal cousinage, is descended from the mistress of a royal princeling, has a wife with connections to the Astors, and some £20 million of inheritance money.

david-golden-balls-1345794682Why are some Daves unfailingly “David”?

In particular, why was “Golden Balls” always given his full birth name, never abbreviated — or when he was, he became “Becks”?

Even St David of Wales is allowed to be “Davey”, but that’s largely because he is also Dewi Sant. If one is the author of all those psalms, you get your full moniker, and pass it on to all the others. Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim and Daibhidh a Briuis, as the two Kings David of Scotland, are historically dignified without shortening. And if you were sculpted by Bernini, by Donatello, by Michelangelo or by Verrochio, you get the full five-syllables, though one of you spends eternity in the buff.

David, Prince of Wales, got the top job (briefly) and was recycled as “Edward VIII”, before he become “Duke of Windsor”. But he was just one of three Princes of Wales with that forename, along with Dafydd ap Llywelyn and Dafydd ap Gruffydd. Perhaps we should throw David Lloyd George into that mix.

Musicians seem to tend to Dave rather than David: Brubeck; Davies; Edmunds; Matthews, Swarbrick, Van Ronk. Apart from the economist Davids (Hume and Ricardo) Hume and the playwright Mamet, the most obvious literary David was always elided down to D.H.

Still, most peculiar that the demotic never accepted “Dave” for Beckham..

On the box

Nor should we overlook Freeview channel 12. Here we find the BBC’s marketing vehicle for antique video-tape. It’s Dave, tending to laddishness (and named on the principle that “Everybody knows a man called Dave”), the 1998 fifth reboot of a repeats channel. Stephen Fry and TopGear seem never far away from the schedule.

In recent years Dave has  has has spawned a whole litter of siblings, and even got around to the odd original (if dirt cheap) studio shows never knowingly oversold as:


full of complete and utter wits

Or as:

The home of witty banter

Read those very, very carefully. Any miscue is deliberate.

The posters for Dave, common on the London Underground, are unfailingly striking, and frequently zoological:
At least it is switch-offable or channel-hop-able. And isn’t based entirely on prat-falls and mis-speaks of the Cameron kind.

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Filed under advertising., blogging, Britain, culture, D.H.Lawrence, David Cameron, films, folk music, History, Jazz, Johnny Cash, Kinks, Literature, Music, reading, Scotland, The West Wing, US Elections, Wales

Malcolm wonders …

41V4FMK6AAL._SL500_AA300_… about lots of things:

  • Does he feel up to giving the Redfellow Hovel lawn a touch of the mower?
  • What is that strange low ache in his left side? Is it terminal or just a strained musclette?
  • Who is the arse who drives a lorry, sans le pot d’échappement, past at 3 a.m. each morning, during the second sleep? If it’s News International, can it be legitimately bombed?
  • Is there really an estate agency with a balanced number of complaints and plaudits?
  • Is Eric Pickles really necessary? Or — the nightmare alternative — is he Jabba the Hut in drag?

… and so on.

This Monday morning two particular considerations perplexed Malcolm:

Let him deliberate further on that last one.

That’s one reading of the seminal text, including the glitch which wikipedia explains as:

The original song recorded in stereo had the word “Coca-Cola” in the lyrics, but because of BBC Radio’s policy against product placement, Ray was forced to make a six thousand mile round-trip flight from New York to London—interrupting the band’s American tour—to change those words to the generic “cherry cola” for the single release.

Referring to the iTunes library on the Big Bastard back-up hard drive, Malcolm reckons there there may be three, at least, very different versions. At TCD the undergraduate Malcolm would now pencil a note in the margin of the Homer, Horace or Herodotus text: variae lectiones (“variant readings”, i.e. the editors still haven’t sussed what the original could have been, but some medieval monken copyist clearly got it wrong).

The three locations for the club seem to be Muswell Hill, Notting Hill and — of course — Old Soho.

Why this matters

Lola is the anthem for Muswell Hill and its Hill-billy population. No New Years Eve party (or similar booze-up) really takes off until, suitably slaked, the gathering can reclaim its own inner Davies and join raggedly in the chorus.


Filed under Kinks, Music, Muswell Hill

As time goes by

Malcolm’s New Year was in the bar of The Bald Faced Stag in East Finchley.

Credit where it’s due

For years Malcolm avoided this joint: it was a seedy, down-at-heel, dying Victorian ex-gin palace. Not quite terminal nicotine-stained spit-and-sawdust; but the property men must have been measuring it up for “redevelopment” into bijou apartments.

Then it fell into the hands of a decent, striving, progressive and small (but expanding) PubCo, the Realpubs Group. What emerged at the other end was a nice admixture of a gastro-pub and a useful watering hole.

So Malcolm was on the Nethergate Augustinian, a premium 4.5% bitter from Clare, Suffolk (the title and the deceptive date on the pump-clip are nods to the Priory of the Austin Friars just down the A1092 road). At their best, East Anglian beers are as good as things get, which is why Adnams Broadside and Greene King Abbot feature regularly in Malcolm’s diet for a liquid lunch. These strong ales (though not as strong as the Abbot Reserve of Advent-tide) have the “sweeter” taste the southerner seems to prefer — geographically and tastefully equidistant between “tart” Yorkshire and luscious Belgium.

Anyway, it’s the flavour that Malcolm grew up with, and it goes with the country.

Loud, but venerable

Being New Year’s, there had to be a deafening disco. After  about 10 p.m. the playlist subtly changed. On came the R&B stuff. Even things that Malcolm could recognise as music.

Just when he was about to despair what sounded rather like the Spencer Davis Group was on offer. It wasn’t, but it was a touching tribute to one of the greats:

Soon after, unadulterated, the Stones rolled:

And — hey! — the locals get a look in:

For the record, on the way to the venue the 234 bus swept the Lady in his Life and Malcolm past the Clissold Arms, of iconic fame and now also greatly revived and improved. Not all of the UK pub scene is a disaster.

The punch-line

All of those tracks are 40 or 45 years old — far more elderly than the average “young professional” shaking their booties to them.

Will they still be around to re-appear for New Year’s in mid-century? Malcolm will not be there to confirm — so would some youthful kind soul in due course take note and report back “on the other side”?


Filed under Adnams, Beer, Belgium, Britain, History, Kinks, London, Music, Muswell Hill, pubs, Sounds of the Sixties, Yorkshire

A sound of thunder?

Mid morning. Second pot of coffee. Time for Iain Dale? Well, why not: it’s like the journeys to Bedlam that Matthew Shardlake makes.

And our Essex boy is in ranting Essex Man frothing form this bright day:

Here it is, in full:

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised but I am. Mark Serwotka, the leader of the PCS union has said today that not only should there be not a single job cut in the civil service, we need more civil servants and a larger public sector to get us out of the recession. I despair. I didn’t think that even on the hard left there was anyone that stupid. How naive of me.

It is the private sector, and in particualr SMEs which will get us out of this mess, not the public sector. And the main priority of the government should be to create the business climate in which SMEs can thrive and invest.

And to listen to Brendan Barber and Bob Crow this morning you’d think we were back in the 1970s with talk of constant strikes and civil disobedience. Crow and his ilk need to be crushed. There’s no compromise to be had with them.

That will go down well with Dale’s regulars. We shall doubtless hear so much more of the same, as this government retreats back to its Thatcherite roots, inventing “enemies within” to excuse its own failures.

How long before need to be crushed means police checkpoints again deployed on the A1, or citizens beaten to the ground, kicked and then charged with “damage to a policeman’s boot” (as at Orgreave)?

Yet, it’s from a parallel universe. It invents a mythology that isn’t there. The notion of mild, decent Brendan Barber, the very model of a Muswell Hillbilly, as some red-in-tooth-and-claw revolutionary is beyond the ludicrous.

Malcolmian aside:

At the risk of Godwin’s law being invoked, is there some paranoia latent in the vocabulary of the Right? The notion of trade unionists being untermenschen to be crushed and rolling back the frontiers has a faint whiff of the panzers firing up for Polenfeldzug.

In the real world

Dale and his ilk (to coin a phrase) may not like it, but a well-resourced, efficient public sector is no bad thing. What we are going to get, on the contrary, are public servants denounced, demoralised, defiled, debased simply for doing their jobs. And all for the sake of “rolling back the frontiers of the State”.

On the other hand, there is the cool, clear-headed work done on the topic by (for one instance) Paul O’Brien’s team at the Association for Public Service Excellence. There’s a source of facts, not the puffing and posturing of the “Taxpayers’ Alliance” and their ilk.

Another Malcolmian aside:

Brendan Barber, Paul O’Brian: how long before Iain Dale, or one of his cronies opens up the Hibernophobic second front? As Malcolm interposed in a recent Slugger O’Toole thread, appropriately enough about “respect”.

As APSE has demonstrated, for every £1 we invest in public services, 64p is generated in local community: much going to precisely those SMEs that Dale wishes to encourage. 29% of public sector expenditure goes directly into the private sector. The recent distress-sale and break-up of Connaught is an indicator of the whirlwind to come:

They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up.

Hosea (here 8,7) was obviously an economist of worth. When Bloggs and Co., your local builder and contractor, goes bust, it won’t appear on the BBC news, or the national press.

That Sound of Thunder

For many years Malcolm had to spend Monday mornings, or Friday afternoons in classrooms with “Ten Gorilla” (a technical term used among teaching staff across the country, a term which might be misunderstood among lay persons). A regular stand-by was Ray Bradbury’s short stories. One that generally worked was A Sound of Thunder. The central section is frequently extracted as Hunting a Dinosaur.

The premise of the unedited story is that small changes in the past accumulate into radical changes in the future. That is the basis of “chaos theory”, perhaps best known through the “butterfly effect” propounded by Edward Lorenz.

This ConDem coalition is set upon a Hosean path that Tony Travers defined in an article for the Financial Times:

Apart from the Big Society rhetoric, a period of Cameron government will leave Britain a different place – moving beyond an attempt to deliver Sweden’s public services with America’s tax levels to one more like Britain before 1945, but with free healthcare.


The combination of a recession and unusual election outcome has triggered a radical experiment in British government. If its logic is followed through, Britain (or at least England) will become much more like the US, with a reduced public sector but many more philanthropic and voluntary “good government” bodies. Whether it does will depend on whether the public really wants a smaller state to match its grudging willingness to pay tax. But if the era of Britain’s big government is truly to be over, another issue matters more: just how far the coalition’s liberal anarchists are willing to go.

Which will the great British People, including Tories, detest the more: the “liberalism” or the “anarchy”?

And, despite the misrepresentation of Dale and his ilk, they won’t be blaming the newly-redundant public servants.

Malcolm now returns to a world of ordered sanity, to Shardlake and what remains in that cafetière.

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Filed under Britain, broken society, C.J.Sansom, civil rights, democracy, economy, Financial Times, Iain Dale, Kinks, leftist politics., Lib Dems, policing, politics, Quotations, reading, Slugger O'Toole, Tories., Uncategorized

Darkening my clear sun

It didn’t start with BBC4, but Malcolm was brought up short thereby. The BBC digital station started with ten minutes of Sounds of the Sixties. Malcolm was in time to catch the Kinks and the Moody Blues. Malcolm, who was really looking for Channel 4 News, paused, watched, was entranced by memories of a long, lost past. Since Sounds of the Sixties is recycling stuff off old tapes, Top of the Pops and similar, Malcolm found himself talking ’bout his generation, as they were: the males in their high-buttoned jackets, the females … well, pert and perky. Sigh.

There is a direct link from there to Malcolm’s main theme. The previous evening, for reasons too complex to narrate, Malcolm had been sitting in the same room as ITV2′ showing Ten Things I Hate About You. And there the hook was the divine Allison Janney (a.k.a., for ever and for good reason, CJ Cregg) playing “Ms Perky”.

Now Ten Things I Hate About You is supposed to be derived from Taming of the Shrew (to which we may return). Ah, yes, Malcolm knew that. To keep the pseudo-cognoscenti happy, there are the superficial references to the original, though (wisely) the script kept those to a minimum, and broke from the precursor as readily as it could. However and alas (those redundant conjunctions that Malcolm’s English teacher, all those years ago, tried to suppress), one quotation had Malcolm fazed:

Hates him with the fire of a thousand suns.

To his irritation, Malcolm could not place the reference. Soon, his mind evolved a fuller version:

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendour of the mighty one …

Definitely not Shakespeare, closet Catholic or not.

So, let’s Google!

And the first citation is … The Bhagavad Gita? Oh, come on! But wait …

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One… I am become Death, the Shatterer of Worlds.

Yes! YES! So, who? WHO?

J Robert Oppenheimer, Quoting “The Bhagavad Gita”, Alamogordo, New Mexico, 1945

Of course! Malcolm could now reconstruct his mental process. It was a book, a paperback, a Penguin edition, now out-of-print, and its content long outdated by the fall of the Wall. And so, Malcolm was able to retire to bed, happy with another small mystery solved.

In the small hours, though, the problem recurs:

Out of the darkness,
Brighter than a thousand suns
Bury your morals and bury your dead
Bury your head in the sand
E=MC squared you can’t relate,
How we made God
With our hands.

Only with the new day does Malcolm link that to Iron Maiden.

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Filed under Allison Janney, BBC4, Iron Maiden, Kinks, Moody Blues, Robert Oppenheimer, Shakespeare, Sounds of the Sixties, Taming of the Shrew, Ten Tings I Hate About You, The West Wing, The Who