Tuesday, 25 August 2009


I've been trying to compile my list of 'Desert Island Discs' which is difficult for any number of reasons. For a start, what IS the protocol on the spelling of 'Disc'? Is it Disc for records (if you don't remember records, don't bother reading on) but Disk for computer media? Or vice versa?

For convention and out of an innate laziness, I'm going to stick with 'Disc' for now, not least because this post is not about discs.

Because it strikes me that any person or organisation that is willing to strand me on a desert island, with a means of playing discs, a favourite book (as well as the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespere) and a luxury of my choice, can also stretch the envelope a little, and provide me with some means of playing videos.

This thought was prompted by an idle browsing of YouTube not, as is my normal wont, for videos of cats doing amusing things or people coming a cropper, often on motorcycles, but of music videos, and this, oddly, made me realise something.

The songs that move me are NOT necessarily the same as the videos that do.

For anyone who may not be familiar with the concept of Desert Island Discs, you can take eight songs with you, which is all the music you will have on your island, for an undefined period of time. If you're going to take eight songs and ONLY eight songs with you, they have to be songs that move you, or mean something to you.

I've already started compiling my Desert Island Discs on here, although I've hit a bit of a brick wall and I fully intend to continue with this. However, when I've looked at the videos - the proper videos, not someone's home mash-up or a kareoke soft-focus jobbie - I've often found myself un-moved. How odd. A song that can move me to tears - of sadness, joy, regret or simply rememberance - can leave me relatively cold when 'enhanced' by video. Yet songs which I like, but which I wouldn't consider as part of my desert island list strike that emotional nerve in much the same way as the end of ET or the old Post Office advert with the little girl and the birthday cards.

If music has charms to soothe the savage breast, then it would seem, videos have charms to make a middle-aged bloke well up.

This morning, for example, I watched Meatloaf's "Objects in the Rearview Mirror" (sic). Although my pedant warning was triggered by a deviance from the the lyric, replacing a car with a biplane, I have to say the emotion of the song got to me in a way I wasn't expecting. Although the story in no way relates to my own years as a child - my father never hit me, let alone again and again and again - I found myself mourning my lost youth, missed opportunities, friendships squandered, lessons not learned. I've always believed you cannot look back and yet, in truth, I do so more and more.

Hopefully, as I get older, my memory will continue to deteriorate and I won't do this so much.

Perhaps, in truth, this would not be a good song to take to the Island, for that very reason. It would not be sensible to sit there on the beach, mourning lost friendships and lost youth, when I should be out gathering coconuts.

So, over subsequent posts, it is my intention to identify other songs where the video enhances the experience for me, to the extent that it creates an emotional response. However, I have an subconcious worry that these will all tend toward the sad end of the spectrum, so I apologise for that in advance and will fully understand if you wish to skip these and look for content highlighting my innate inability to deal with the complexities of modern life, such as mobile phones and Facebook.

But do check out Meatloaf's video - just not when I'm around please, unless you like seeing a grown man cry.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Visit

This was first posted on Six Sentences, but has apparently been deleted, so I'm posting it here for posterity and posting it today because today is painful.

I visited my Father today.

It has been some time since my last visit as, over time, the demands of a frenetic lifestyle led to them becoming less and less frequent, filial duty replacing desire, obligation replacing need.

Originally, I would talk of many things, asking for advice and guidance, receiving none, regaling him with stories of the latest exploits of his granddaughters, as if he could not see for himself how they grow and yet, over time, the content dwindled proportionate to the visits, the intervals longer and longer, the words no longer flowing.

Today was different.

Today, as so many times before, I began as the mature adult, long absolved of the need for parental navigation through the exigencies of adult reality, began with the same hollow synopsis of complex lives and personalities, began to speak without talking.

Yet today, it was all stripped away from me, not layer by layer but at once, a magician’s reveal of my inner child and suddenly, I was not an adult fulfilling a social expectation or a student seeking tutorial guidance, but, with great wracking sobs, I was that child, needing the Daddy taken from him too soon.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


There are many, many things I hate.

Probably far too many than are healthy for me - certainly too many than are healthy for society. Many of these hatreds I can contain and, unless you are a devotee of Tim Roth's alleged use of 'micro-gestures', I would challenge most people to even be aware of them. This is odd, because I'm useless at Poker.

However, this is not always the case.

For example, there are circumstances that not only prevent the masking of hatreds, but, quite the opposite, seem to exacerbate and amplify them beyond reason (assuming of course that they are reasonable in the first place) to the extent that they take over. The most obvious of these circumstances in when I am encased in a small metal box, with an engine and controls supposedly designed to get me where I am meant to be more quickly.

More quickly than what? Teleportation? Have you SEEN the amount of traffic on the road these days, huge numbers with foreign number-plates so they can avoid paying road tax or.......

Ok, and breeeeeeath..........

However, this post is not about the hatreds that emerge when I'm driving. That would take too long and you'd never reach the end. No, this post is about the hatred that emerges when I am in bed.

(Before you leave, no, it's not about anything like that. This is a 12 certificate post).

This is my hatred of phones that ring in the night. Or rather, the three hatreds related to phones that ring in the night.

Firstly, I hate phones that ring in the wee hours. It is never good news. Never. It is never a long lost cousin in Tierre del Fuego telling you you have just inherited an estate in Monte Carlo and the Mona Lisa. So, when it rings, my heart plummets as, simultaneously, my stomach tries to escape through my sinuses. Not a nice feeling, although I could probably get a Cadbury's advert out of it if I could do it to order.

I had a call like this the night my Father died.

So, when the phone rings in the wee hours, I know I am not going to be pleased, whatever happens.

So, I hate it when the phone rings in the wee hours. That's number one.

Secondly, I hate when, having been jarred from, hopefully pleasant, dreams, you fumble for the phone, knocking glasses of water (sans teeth thank goodness), alarm clocks, pots of cufflinks and a pile of intellectually challenging books that you fully intend to read - one day - flying. I hate it even more when, along with the assorted detritus, you also knock the phone flying.

What I hate even more however is, when you finally find the phone, find which side and end is meant to be next to your ear and work out how to answer it, a process which seems to take hours, but in fact only takes a few dischordant rings, you manage to answer it, only for there to be no-one there.

Not, I stress, to find they have hung up. That is without doubt annoying, but no, this I would suggest, is worse.

What I hate is when you find that, having finally mastered the process of answering the phone, there is nobody there responding to you. You can tell the line is not dead - there are faint noises of speech in the background, but nobody responds to your increasingly shrill cries of "hello! HELLO!". Finally, as your voice reaches the pitch at which bats fall from the sky in distress, you hang up in discuss, place the phone back on the table, knocking it and any remaining accumulated rubbish to the floor, roll over and try, rather too hard, to recover the dream that, unusually, was rather vividly in your memory. I hate people who call in the middle of the night but don't speak to you.

However, what I think I hate most of all, is when the following morning, you remember the incident and determine to put your full investigative skills to work in tracking down the miscreant.

You find the phone amongst the rubbish on the floor.

You dial 1471 to find the last caller's number.

The robotic (yet strangely authoratitive) voice reads the number to you and, as always, you wonder if Stephen Hawking uses this as a chat-line?

You frown, vaguely recognising the mobile phone number you've been given. You dial 1471 a second time, to hear it again. Yes. You know it. You can't place it, but you know it. You run through a mental check-list. Kids. Nope. Mum. Look it up (she never turns it on so you never call it)- nope. Ex - nope. Brother - errr - nope.

So who IS it???

And then you remember.

You know why you never call this number.

It's because it's your number.

So, the thing I hate most about phones that ring in the night is when you leave your mobile on the bed and, in the throes of a dream, roll onto it, inciting it to ring the last number called. Your number. Last called because, as always, you couldn't find the landline handset.

The thing I hate most is when you roll onto your phone, call yourself in the wee hours, hears yourself saying "hello, HELLO!" in the background, and finally go back to sleep cursing yourself for your inconsideration.

So, I hate phones that ring in the night.

But I hate being a dingbat more.