Monday, November 30, 2009

Keep The Fans Out Of The Bar Tour: The UK leg of the No Sleep Til Russia Tour ended last night in Wolverhampton. The Girlschool / The Damned / Motorhead billing was excellent, and perhaps in our parallel universe, due to having 3 knockout bands to watch, it might have been called the Keep The Fans Out Of The Bar Tour.
It was a great idea having those 3 bands which the majority of punters were more than willing to pay for a ticket to go and see. In tours past, we've had younger bands whom Motorhead fans had never heard of, so the bars were full, the support bands were pissed off because it seemed as if nobody cared, so everyone lost out - until Motorhead played, of course.
They set-list was similar to previous years, but we enjoyed Dirty Love as the 'new oldie' for the first few shows. It was then ousted in favour of another long-lost never-played-before-live B-side of Cradle To The Grave from the Orgasmatron era. Also added was the Motorhead cover version of Twisted Sister's Shoot Em Down which obviously pleased the band, but as a Motorhead fan I would have preferred a Motorhead track, and Dirty Love would have been my option.
Considering these recessionary times, it seemed to be forgotten as soon as we were inside the venue as the T-shirt stall did brisk business at each show I attended. Most dates were also sold out or very close to being so, and that popularity has been reflected by more people joining the fan club, too.
Now the band are off to Germany for a string of dates, Finland for one, and 2 in Russia, and Motorhead go down a storm in those countries just as much as they do so here.
In February the band start work on the follow-up album to Motorizer, and their 35th Anniversary Tour will be coming to a town close to almost everyone, I'm sure.
Our club fanzine will be going in the post tomorrow, with the latest fan club T-shirt on offer, make sure you order yours before the closing date.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lemmy The Movie: Greg and Wes, who have been filming Motorhead gigs as well as interviewing people closely associated with the band for some time now, flew over to include footage from the world's greatest rock venue, Hammersmith Odeon. They also moved on to include the Wolverhampton show. They are now looking at the completed film being relesed in 2010, which, more by luck than judgement is Motorhead's 35th Anniversary anway. It has taken longer than anticipated as the two guys are self-financed, and there is no huge business empire behind them with vaults full of cash to help them out, so this is the reason why it seems to have taken such a long time to be released.
Around the world there must be miles of footage of Motorhead both live and in interview which they could have used, but it's a case of finding it, then getting the appropriate agreements for release etcetera, so they thought it best to just start from scratch and just do their own thing.
There is no doubt that our patience will be rewarded when it is finally released.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Killed By Death: Is that what they call a mixed metaphor? Only Lemmy could think of that one, and did, rather like the million crime writers' who didn't think a character like Dr. Harold Shipman could exist, so they never dreamed up a plot like that and have lived to chew their biro in extreme regret ever since. It is a classic title, and it is a classic song.
So here we are almost at tours' end, well, for the UK leg, anyway, and with a day's rest after Portsmouth the doorstep Bournemouth International Centre gig is here.
Motorhead played this venue on the Alice Cooper / Joan Jett tour a couple of years ago, and now they're back headlining in the 2,200 capacity Solent Hall, which, apparently, used to be the swimming pool section of the complex; but I'm sure the band's sound waves will make up for the lack of watery ones.
Hammersmith tomorrow, which wasn't originally on my itinerary, but now is, so if you see me we can have a quick chat.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thought For Today: If Adolf Hitler had lived, would he have been put to death?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No More Claude Balls: Thinking about it again, the Warfarin blood test last week was quite eventful. Called into the cubicle for the deed to be done, the nurse, (they tend to be nicknamed Dracula's in most hospitals), noticed a quite fresh wound on my left forearm.
'Cat's claw?' she asked.
'Yes,' I nodded, 'she's just over a year old and still quite feisty.'
'Did you know they're breeding them without claws in America?'
'You are joking!'
She went on to say, as she extracted the usual tiny tube full of blood, that this highly unnatural variation from the norm was being carried out to specifically produce a breed of cats who would spend their lives in high-rise appartments.
'It's so that they don't scratch the furniture, carpets or curtains,' she added. 'But of course, such cats would be no good in a normal home; just imagine if it tried climbing a tree, or went after a bird!'
And indeed, that final scenario is just what Tom & Jerry cartoons were made of; the natural instinct of tree climbing and getting nowhere, and the cat looking at its paws and thinking: What's happening? Or even better, trying to run in a polished wood floor!
Our new cat, Lucy, visited us for Xmas last year. She was 3 months old and, much like our unfortunate clawless cat described above, likes climbing trees. The problem was, Lucy kept climbing our daughter-in-law's indoor Xmas tree and wrecking it several times a day; and with 2 young kids looking forward to the festive season, it wasn't very funny. And bah-humbugs as we are with no space for a tree anyway, she arrived on our doorstep with a small suitcase for 3 weeks holiday; and ended up a permanent resident. Yet despite the wounds to the forearms, I would rather she kept her claws than not.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ode To The Whipper-Snapper: History repeats itself: fact. It has to. And at some point an older person would have been looking at me as some young whipper-snapper with a Mrs; kids and a mortgage, swimming against lifes' tide as we do. Now, as an older person, the swim hasn't become that much easier, although the tide isn't quite so strong.
But now, virtually everyone surrounding me are the young whipper-snapper's of today, coping with life just as I did yesterday: doctors, dentists, police, the fire brigade; even the postman; and they're all young and they all look upon me as being old. Well, I beg to differ; older rather than just old.
And our postman is a young and smiling chap who once had long hair and then had it shaved off. Presumably, hair is no longer 'in,' and females' prefer touching shiny flesh with bristles rather than the thatch nature gave us to keep our head warm? But he wears a wooly hat or his regulation cap to compensate, and when they were striking recently, the streets missed them pedaling their bicycles around.
And although those strikes were not about pay, at one point they were, and our postal people were throwing their toys out of the pram because they said business had suffered due to the high usage of email and texts.
Well, no; my bank nor my insurance company would agree, as I get mountains of junk mail from both despite going paperless with my statements, and not requiring the drivel my insurer's send, anyway.
But the postal service isn't really suffering due to email, texts or the internet, and if they say they are, well, surely the everything sold on EBay which is sent by post (and Parcel Force) must compensate?
The thing is with these young whipper-snapper's, you see, is that they think we're old and by the same token, stupid. So the next time you postman feel a strike coming on, have a look at the pre or post-tax profit your company has made, and then shut up; you've lost nothing!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Strictly Come Darting: It was a juvenile escape from home. As soon as we were old enough to walk into a pub, neighbourhood friend, John Westacott and I were in there with a pint and a fag, playing darts. It was just a pub game like shove ha'penny, dominoes, cribbage or whist; nothing like the big money extravaganza it has become on ITV4 last week and over the weekend. And it was double-in, double-out in our day as well, so if nerves struck, the other player could have finished without you even starting, thus giving what was termed 'a whitewash.' Now, they play 501 straight in; double-out only.
Often, during the week for practice or on a Friday evening for the league game, The Upton Hotel darts team took over the board. Regardless of any maths skills at school, this was the place where your addition, subtraction, and multiplication skills would either stand or fall. All good dart players mentally scored their own game, and the chalker was expected to get it right on the blackboard. (These days they use an electronic board, as the kids don't seem to learn their multiplication tables, because they've got a calculator!) And as we were little more than onlookers, we would be expected to chalk the scores during those practice sessions, in the hope that we might play the winner. Of course, the team players always watched us chalk, and if we were deemed quick and accurate enough, we also chalked the Friday league games; and then gradually, as team member's were on holiday or dropped out for one reason or another, John and I were invited to join the team.
Pubs were proper pubs then, all they sold was ploughman's lunch and local beer, and in some of the country pubs, a chap would walk in with dung still on his wellies and play his game. In our league we played The St. Peter's Finger, The Baker's Arms, The Sandford Hotel, (the first time we played women in a team, and they thrashed us!), The Silent Woman, The Lord Nelson at Wareham, The Lulworth Arms at Lulworth Cove; etc.
Another school chum, Tony Parker, aka 'Cheshire;' because he always had a grin like the Cheshire Cat, had the habit of being a humourous but annoying character in general, never mind to the member's of the team. At one venue before play he had been particularly irritating, so the team en-masse held him against the juke-box whilst two of the member's inserted pickled gherkins, which were part of the spread each home team pub would provide for the players, into his nostrils and ears, which shut him up for a while.
But darts is a very psychological game, and just as we see on those TV games, if a player gets a high score it rattles his opponent's confidence, and his darts go into stupid, previously unvisited beds; like 1, 3, 5 and 7; despite the fact the player is aiming for treble 19 or 20. And although he will be superceeded one day, the only player who doesn't seem to let that psychological play affect him is 14 times world champion, Phil Taylor.
It was great fun, and quite a confidence builder, and a nice way to spend a Friday evening. Now, it is rare to find a dart board in a pub as they have all been turned into money-making gastro's, and another charming facet of English country life has died out.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Memories Are Made Of This: Had one of the essential Warfarin blood tests yesterday, and met a neighbour who was waiting whilst his wife had hers. As we sat there chatting, he apologised and said that he knew it was silly, but he couldn't remember my name. He then chuckled at the lack of memory his senior years had smitten him with, adding that when he was younger he could, if necessary, instantly name every one of the 1,200 employess in the factory where he then worked.
Such is the price of age, but were our younger and mid-life years any better? Whilst many pride themselves upon the power of their recall, or IQ; is it really that good?
The next time you see someone check their wristwatch, when they have, ask them what the time is? It will probably less than 20 seconds since they checked it before, but they will look again and then tell you; and you can smile and rib them at what a bad memory they've got.
And then there's The Weakest Link. I am a big fan of this quiz show, and Ann Robinson is very much a female version of Lemmy Kilmister; and they would either get on very well, or hate one another, and I'm not sure which?
Now and again the BBC repeat a previous programme, and Mrs. B will say: 'This one has been on before,' because she will remember one of the contestants for some reason or another. Yet even though it's a repeat, can we remember the answers to all of the questions? Can we even remember which of the 9 contestants actually won the money?
No, we jolly well can't!
And the TV company's know we all have such bad memories because we watch these films and programmes again and again, often because we can't remember the ending. So is it really old age making us forgetful, or was our psyche just designed that way? If we remembered everything, the TV companies would be in quite a state, as we would be ringing to stop them showing these endless re-runs, as we had become bored with the repitition.
A rather more jovial instance of short-term memory loss was when a former work colleague, who enjoyed a few beers on a Friday, arrived back at home at 01.40 rather the worse for wear, and wondered why his key didn't fit the lock? Knocking on the door to reluctantly get his wife to let him in, when it opened, he wondered who the strange man in his house was? The 'stranger' then reminded him that he had moved from that address 3 year's earlier!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More By Design Than Accident: It's one of those aspects of village life that I enjoy; people just start talking to one another and then bring someone else into a conversation simply by changing eye contact. A couple of years ago now, and in the queue to get some stamps at Upton Post Office; a woman, slightly older than me I imagined, was talking to another female friend. In a world of my own thinking about whatever, suddenly our eye contact happened to meet as she said: 'I think our lives' are decided from the moment we are born.'
After thinking this idea through myself from time to time, I said: 'No, from conception, I think; but probably even before that.'
She looked at me with a curious and dumbfounded expression.
'Just imagine,' I continued, 'we were conceived tonight; it would be a completely different sperm hitting a completely different egg had we been conceived yesterday or tomorrow. It would even be different yet again if our parents' had copulated at 8pm rather than 9 or 10pm; it is all very finite.'
'Really?' she said, still looking rather shaken.
'And yes, I think it is all decided from that moment of conception, what kind of person we will be, what job we will do, whether we marry or have children; right from that moment of fertilisation. And it gets even stranger than that. My parents had a daughter first, Barbara Anne, who passed when she was a couple of day's old. Then they had my brother, Robert, and had Barbara Anne lived they would have enjoyed the perfect boy / girl family; so I wouldn't be here talking to you now.'
By now, these two women must have wished they'd discussed this at home over a coffee.
'Conception also decides our Fate and Destiny, and to a degree it also controls our parallel worlds; or the how our lives would have been lived had we said 'Yes' to a certain question or decision rather than 'No,' or vice-versa. And some people believe those parallel worlds actually exist, where we are living out the decisions opposite to those we actually took; where it is the complete antethesis of our current history - like what our world would be like had there been no World War I or II?'
By now, the ladies were becoming somewhat befuddled, and wishing all the more they hadn't, perhaps, drawn me into the conversation. Their turn had arrived to be served, so they did their business and went, and then I did mine; and I have never seen either of them again since.
But it does make you think, doesn't it; and if you would like to read some excellent fiction in a complete parallel world to our own, then please read Mick Farren's two serial novels 'Kindling' and 'Conflagration;' they will astound you by their brilliance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sitting By My Telephone: Mobile phones, or 'cells' as they are called Stateside, has never been technology I have welcomed. Agreed, our land-line is ex-directory, but that choice was Mrs. B's when she did a 12 year stint on the graveyard shift, and didn't want to be woken up by some idiot selling double glazing. Consequently, unless it's friends or family, the land-line rarely rings; so to any mobile-friendly friends I say 'Well, you don't phone me on the land-line, so why should I pay £35 or whatever a month for you not to phone me on a mobile?'
But in this technological age we live in, mobile's can either be a friend or a foe; because the calls are traceable via those ugly masts which seem to spring up overnight; except in the West Country, which has an exceptional number of 'blind spots' probably due to the masts looking horrendous eyesore's in the middle of Exmoor, Dartmoor or similar; so they can't get permission to erect them.
In some homicide cases, a murderer has been convicted when plod has traced the calls to find he was there when he swears he wasn't, and likewise, people presumed dead in earthquake's and other disasters like 9/11 have been found alive by calling their mobile number.
But my trusty old Nokia relic finally turned up its toes last week in Plymouth, when the rubber beneath the keys lost its bounce and it took a good 5 minutes of fury and frustration to call a number. Then, just mentioning it as small-talk when visiting local MHB friend, Eddie Evans, last Saturday, he gleefully found an old one, (but younger than my clapped-out model, nevertheless), in a drawer, to say: 'Take that one on, Al, swap the chip and charge it up and it'll do you a turn!'
Grateful and 'mobile' again, although it does no more or less than the previous one, it's just the job should I (a) need to call the RAC if the car breaks down, or (b) need to find someone at a gig.
And what are those 'blue-tooth' phones people have sprouting from their ear like a birth deformity; and why haven't we got the guts to approach them to say; 'Hey, mate, you look a right plonker!'

RIP: Edward Woodward, or Robert McCall from 'The Equaliser,' star of 'The Wicker Man' etc; who passed on the 16th. During an interview once, he mentioned how Sir Laurence Olivier always called him 'fart in the bath,' because when you say 'Edward Woodward,' that's what it sounds like. Priceless!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Train Kept A Rolling: The trip to see Motorhead in Plymouth last Wednesday was a delight. Bearing in mind the new advert on TV asking us to drive 5 miles a week less to cut down on the CO2 emissions, we met them half way with Mrs. B dropping me off 2.5 miles closer to home at our doorstep station of Hamworthy Junction for the 12.42, rather than from the main station in Poole.
At Dorchester South for 13.04, it then took a brisk but short walk to Dorchester West for the 13.25 to Castle Cary. And as deep in the countryside as we then were, everything went a bit 'I can't read and I can't write but I can drive a tractor' when the train looked as if it was the very first diesel built after the death of steam as it chortled, rattled, swayed and stunk of diesel fumes through to Maiden Newton, Yetminster, Thornford and Yeovil. The driver almost shook every rivet loose by flooring the accelerator and causing an horendous din; then coasted between stations for as long as possible in comparative silence; eventually to arrive at Castle Cary at 14.16.
The 14.23 to Taunton was the other extreme; swish, silent, speedy and electric; and it arrived quite effortlessly at 14.46. After sampling some of the best Dorset, Somerset and Devon rural scenery already, the final leg of the journey went right along the coast through Budleigh Salterton and onwards, with dark and cruel waves crashing into the almost feeble coastal defences whilst brewing up for the storm which would follow; and Plymouth looked a welcome sight despite the heavy rain at 16.29.
One of those late bookings websites had brought a hostel called The Welcome Rest, which was chosen for its close proximity to the station; but throwing rain down as it was, I took a cab and paid £3 for the quarter mile ride. You see, Burridge doesn't do wet these days; after 35 years fork lift driving in every element possible, the wet was the worst, so to avoid it for a measley 3 quid was more than worthwhile.
The gig, of course, was marvellous, and from the moment the band walk onstage one can feel the spirits lift, and they stay there for a good few months afterwards - Motorhead Heaven is how we describe it, and you all know what I mean, don't you!
The return trip was easier; a mere 3 changes.
The 07.47 (Stranger's In The Night) went straight back to Castle Cary for 09.39. The 09.56 to Weymouth was 12 minutes late which meant a missed 11.03 connection; but never mind, the 11.20 Weymouth to Waterloo train was sitting there waiting to take me back to Hamworthy Junction for 11.58.
For a previous Plymouth Motorhead gig I had driven, with MHB's Nigel Moore and Eddie Evans as co-pilot and navigator respectively; but the journey was quite literally Chris Rea's 'Road To Hell' in that 50% of it consists of B roads with lots of tiny villages peppered with speed cameras, and the other 50% Motorway - and I arrived exhausted - so that's why the train kept a rolling this time, as I got there and back as fresh as the proverbial daisy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Vampire Of Sunset Strip: That's the title Rolling Stone magazine gave to their first feature on Motorhead, reflecting within it the hours Lemmy keeps. It was a good analogy, and this has been his habit for the last 40 years, if not longer. Up at 2pm, soundcheck between 4 and 5pm (if on tour, which he is often as not), venue opens at 7pm; Motorhead onstage 9.30 until 11; wind down, go to a strip / lap / pole dance club, and then to bed at whatever time of day it happens to be.
Back in 1983, Lemmy phoned me at work to ask if I would "take over the remnants of the Taylor family run MHB's fan club?" and I said "Blimey, you're up early!" to which he replied, "No, I'm up late!"
Vampires have always fascinated mankind, and probably always will. In Mick Farren's what has become known as 'The Renquist Quartet' of vampire novels, (The Time Of Feasting / Darklost / More Than Mortal / Underland), he speculates that humanity is a failed race created by aliens who were brought to planet Earth to keep that mistake from being a thorn in their side, whilst they went on to create a hybrid, but without the flaws.
This alien race then assisted and directed our labour in the building the pyramids, so that if they needed to, they could see the original gold apex' tips glinting from several thousand light years away, and know where we were - well, they didn't have sat-nav 4,000 years ago, did they!
When the building was complete, the aliens used 'sun bombs' (H-bombs) to obliterate us, but inevitably, all were not killed; as they obviously hadn't devised the 'Overkill' theory at that time, either!
So they brought another failed race to planet Earth to eradicate us; the vampires: of which Victor Renquist, the 1,000 year old vampire and the main protagonist in Farren's four fabulous novels, would eventually become.
Forget Anne Rice's 'Interview With A Vampire,' forget Bram Stoker's 'Dracula;' Victor Renquist is the man; and when you have read any or all of these books, you will ache to become a vampire yourself.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Writers' Right To Write: 'Murder She Wrote' vs 'Basic Instinct.' Now, there's a thought; that busy-body old biddy Jessica (JB) Fletcher vs the also busy-body, but in a vastly different way of Catherine Tramell: Angela Lansbury vs Sharon Stone. Two actresses playing their role as novel writers at the opposite ends of the spectrum - the elderly citizen and the sex-siren.
But wouldn't the action in the TV series and the two movies have been slow if these women had been shown physically writing and typing their books. We never see the hard graft, and if you care to watch Mariella Frostrup's 'Book Show,' her guest writers usually seem to come across as stuck-up pompous asses who give the impression they dashed their novel off in a month; when publisher's expect it to take a year: and it does.
Thankfully, though, they are not all like that; Ian Rankin, Stephen King, J K Rowling, Martina Cole and others are much more recognisable as down-to-earth people just like us. But we the general public seem to have this odd idea that writers have a limitless supply of their books to give away.
Not true.
Well, not in the early years, anyway.
Minette Walters, Dorset's most famous writer who lives near Dorchester had a TV doc about her 'A Company Of Snakes' book screened a few years back. In it, she told us that she had spent 2 hours re-structuring one sentence to get rid of the word because, because she hates it: utter madness!
The garden party followed, when dozens of friends and relations arrived gushing monstrous adjectives in telling her how marvellous the book was; but they're all marvellous when they're Free, and with a Garden Party and complimentary eats and booze, even more so.
But the books only become Free when a writer has enough Royalties to take the expense without missing it, and Minette has achieved that level as many of her books have topped the Best Seller lists. But that TV doc, amongst others, pulled out all the stops in generating this ridiculous idea which seems to have stuck in people's minds; but a great deal of it, I am sure, was for the benefit of the documentary.
I have read all of Minette's books, my favourite is 'Fox Fire' and I have subscribed to her email newsletter for many years. She's quite a heavy smoker, and I admire her the most for naming her dogs Benson and Hedges.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Not Been Idle: The 24 hour round trip by rail to the first English gig on the 'No Sleep 'til Russia' tour in Plymouth was excellent and well worth every minute.
It's nice to be back home, but things didn't stop to allow a rest as I wanted to slide a quick review of the show into the 86th fanzine and get it up together and to the print shop. This has been achieved, and will be ready for collection towards the end of the month for mailing out to you MHB's across the globe.
There is the latest MHB's exclusive T-shirt offer on page 3, so let's hope you've got a few quid left from indulging in the fine Tour Merchandise on sale at the gigs you'll be going to. The merch stall at Plymouth was doing brisk business during the time I spent sitting nearby having a welcome cup of tea before the gig.
Should be back to the Blog on Monday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rolling Stone Issue 1090 October 29, 2009: There are quite a number of rock music magazines around the world, and most if not all if them have featured Motorhead. But the one magazine, which is like the creme de la creme of them all, never has, and to be honest, long time fans, never mind the band themselves, must have wondered why Motorhead had been missed out?
Well, Rolling Stone finally realised their oversight and have put matters right in the edition listed above, which should be in UK newsagents like Smiths by now.
There's a black and white portrait of Madonna on the cover, which, (we are never happy, are we?), should have been Lemmy, really. But hey, we're thrilled Motorhead have been acknowledged by the greatest rock magazine of all time, and there are plenty of great photos over the 8 pages, which is titled 'Vampire of the Sunset Strip.'
So, if you'd like to get a copy of this milestone issue, you'd better hurry while stocks last.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ode To The Jolly Cassette: They were a much better friend than the 8-Track cartridge as we could record our music on them. In their day they were, and in some ways still are (almost) the perfect way to record our tunes.
Yet there seems to be no 100% foolproof method of recording which cannot suffer damage either physically or through neglect. 78rpm records broke easily, vinyl LP's can be scratched and warp if not stored vertically; tapes stretch and became chewed up in the sound heads; and even the supposedly indestructable CD has its downsides, especially those burned at home; which can hop, skip and jump, or the laser just refuses to pick up the track to play them.
Tape has another setback in that over a period of time, the magnetic oxide which holds the recorded sound decays and falls off. Thus, the rather archaic method of baking the tapes in a warm domestic oven; an extremely exacting practice as you can imagine; to stick the oxide back on, is normal practice in the recording industry.
And when the CD was developed and just about everything was re-released in far superior quality, some of the actual Master Tapes were found to have been previously recorded upon, subsequently wiped, and then re-recorded on again. Apparently, Cream's 'Disraeli Gears' Master Tapes were found to be in this category, amongst others, whereas it would be assumed that every band paying for studio time would have brand new tape as a matter of courtesy.
But apparently, someone invented an everlasting match, but the match industry bought the patent and locked it away in a safe. The match industry didn't need an everlasting match any more than the music industry needs indestructable vinyl, tape or CD's; because they can't make money on products which last forever.
Everything wears out eventually, including us.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Dan Dare - Pilot Of The Future: Today, I thought I'd give the Motorblog a rest; a weekend off.
So, I'm sitting here giving the early pages of Mick Farren's autobiography 'Give The Anarchist A Cigarette' their second reading, and along with the memoir of the legendary 'You're never alone with a Strand' TV advert for cigarettes, (yes, they used to advertise cigarettes on TV, youngsters), he also mentioned Dan Dare; who was the front page spaceman star of the legendary Eagle comic, and in doing so, it reminded me of a joke.
Dan Dare, pilot of the future, crashed his spaceship on an unknown planet, millions of light-years away from planet Earth.
'How will we ever be able to fly back home, Dan?' his co-pilot, Digby, asks with fear in his voice, thinking they will be standed there forever.
Watching a small cloud of dust on the near horizon gradually materialise into three strange looking creatures riding on a floating disc-like object, Dan replied: 'Perhaps these aliens will be able to help?'
The alien vehicle stopped in front of Dan and Digby, and one alien asked: 'Who are you?'
Dan looked the alien in the eye. 'I am Dan Dare, pilot of the future, the most famous spaceman of all time, and everyone knows my name!'
The three aliens shrugged their shoulders. 'Never heard of you; so we're going to kill you both.'
All three aliens took out something which resembled pistol's of sorts, and aimed them at Dan and Digby.
'Wait,' said Dan, 'I am Dan Dare, pilot of the future, everyone in the universe knows who I am, and I can proove it.'
'I think you're skating on thin ice, Dan,' Digby whispered.
'OK, how can you proove it?' asked the lead alien.
'Take us back to planet Earth, and wherever we land, the first person we meet will know me; if not, then you can kill us.'
'That's a deal,' agreed the alien.
So the three aliens took Dan and Digby to the spaceport, boarded an intergalactic craft, and sped back to planet Earth at warp-speed. The craft landed right in the middle of an African rainforest; and when they stepped out of the craft, Digby said, 'Yes, Dan, very thin ice.'
The three aliens looked at Dan. 'So, where are these people who know who you are?'
'We're in deep s***' Digby said, nodding his head.
Then, a group of dark-skinned warriors dressed in loin cloths and carrying spears emerged from within the dense curtain of undergrowth in the trees.
'Oh, dear,' said Digby, 'I think we're definitely going to die, Dan; these people will never know who you are.'
The dark-skinned warriors stopped, and one of them said, 'Well, hello dare.'
Dan turned to the aliens and said, 'You see, I told you so!'

Batty Book Titles -
A Long Way Down by Eileen Dover.
Falling Down by Lucy Lastic.
40 Years In The Saddle by Major Bumsore.
A Mess On The Sheets by Mr. Completely.
Sore Cheeks by Tanya Hyde.
Tiger In Bed by Claude Balls.
Breast Feeding by Nora Titt.
School Uniform by Willie Wareham - (from Chris Sage).
The English Woodland by Theresa Green - (from James Merry).

If you know any more, please email or put them on the message board.

Friday, November 06, 2009

No Transport Of Delight: When my kid's were born, they were driven home in the car. Nothing odd in that, really. But since then, along with subsequent family outings essential in getting through life, neither of them have suffered or even felt queazy from travel sickness.
Conversely, presumbly because families didn't have cars when I was a nipper, I would be ill regularly on the 3 mile bus ride from Upton to Poole, and then ill again on the journey home. This eventually reached such a level of absurdity, that we often walked into town so that the illness was only suffered one way.
In retrospect, I should have been nicknamed 'The Barley Sugar Kid,' as Mum always had a some in her handbag; and life would be filled with dread when she offered me one, because I knew that a journey was iminent, and sucking those sweets was supposed to help stop travel sickness. And I said 'supposed to' there for a reason, as doing so was nothing more than 'an old wive's tale' and didn't always work; and even to this day I cannot stand the thought, never mind the sight of barley sugar sweets.
"He'll grow out of it," the Doctor said; and I did, to a degree, when I passed my test and started driving, because thinking about everything involved in getting from A to B took my mind off being ill; so I wasn't. However, this was not foolproof, because if someone offered a lift, sitting in the back seats made me feel ill again. It must be something to do with the scenery rushing past the side window, as sitting in the front passenger seat where the scenery approaches has no 'ill' effect (sorry for the pun).
But regarding my kids, I thought that with just about everyone owning a car these days there would be no more travel sickness; and that it had been banished into the 'It Doesn't Happen Any More' file in lifes' sufferances.
No such luck!
There are still people who get travel sickness whether they drive or are passenger, or so I was informed recently. This I found difficult to believe, especially if they are actually the driver, as it had been that step which had eradicated my own.
But what works for one person might not necessarily be the panacea for everyone, and I should have guessed that the problem hadn't been conquered yet, because those packets of travel sickness tablets, and the barley sugar sweets, are still on sale at the chemists.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Not All Typists Wore Knickers: For a few years in my younger life, (1969-1972), I worked in an office. The first employer turned me down for having long hair, but I didn't know that, so when they advertised another job, I applied again. At the second interview, the office manager told me this was the reason, and if I could have "a bit of a trim" then the job was mine.
So I had a very, very minor 'trim,' they gave me the job, and when being introduced to the managing director, who happened to see me at the first interview, but had refused me the job because he "didn't want to bring this long haired yobbo fashion into the office," he looked at my hair, went "Hmph," shook my hand rather limply, and then walked away.
They sent me on some day-release courses, a Certificate In Office Studies and then ONC Business Studies at Poole College. The students, like me, worked in offices and turned up every Tuesday for Accounts, Economic Geography, Law and all sorts of other topics; and typing.
Unlike now, when every PC and laptop has got a keyboard and everyone can, to a degree, 'type;' then, it was regarded as 'pouffy,' 'a bit girlie' or just plain 'effeminate;' and "blokes dug holes in the road, they didn't type; typing's for girls!"
Nevertheless, we typed on the old fashioned metal typewriters which had a ribbon, (even more girlie!), and a bell, and were supposed to use certain fingers to hit certain keys; but unfortunately, us blokes couldn't do that, and we just used our two index fingers.
Now and again the tutor would give us 'speed tests,' which was a measure of our typing speed in 'words per minute,' with which a typist would get a job, or not, and the higher their wpm, the more money they were paid.
Charlie Thomas, a chap who worked for the local gas board at their Bourne Valley offices, was the fastest typist on the course, and the tutor went mad because he only used his two index fingers. But did it matter?
My brother and I were bought a typewriter, more at my insistence than his, I expect, as a shared Xmas present one year, so I had already done a good deal of typing, and wasn't far behind Charlie Thomas in the wpm speed stakes. Then Fate and Destiny took a hold of my life and I started the fanzine for Motorhead; and the first issue was published in January 1980. And even at that time, typing was still regarded as pouffy, girlie and all the rest of it; but Mrs. B was a trained typist, so I used to add 'typing by Jane' so that everyone thought I was too big, tough and macho to do such a thing; when in actual fact, and despite being big, tough and macho, I had typed every word.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

It's The Image That Counts: To mark our 25th Wedding Anniversary, Mrs B decided we deserved a holiday in the sun; and for the first time ever, we would fly.
As noted previously, in 1973, air travel was for the rich, well, richer than we were, so our honeymoon was in London. In 1998, and also today of course, travel is easier and more affordable, so off we went to Corralejo, the most northern town in Fuerteventura.
Married in December, so naturally we went in December, and it was fabulous; but returning to a cold / freezing England wasn't funny; and we had also missed the initial thrust of the ball rolling perilously fast towards Xmas; which was a bit like running along the platform after the train had left the station.
But Corralejo became an annual pilgrimage of sorts, and we went for several years until about 2002. That year more than most, we noticed how the town had grown, and one of the shops, which at first looked like a florists, held quite a surprise when we found the plants outside on sale were cannabis. The leaves are unmistakeable probably to everyone over the age of 10, and there they were potted (excuse the extremely bad pun) and growing, and sitting there on the pavement in the sunshine.
But Fuerte is part of Spain, and rather like Holland, must have far more relaxed drug Laws. Indeed, when a Spanish policeman walks along the pavement, he; well, they all do, actually; look meaner than Clint Eastwood in any of his tough-guy roles. The black, polished boots look mean, the uniform looks 'the business,' the pistol makes you swallow hard, and the males all look ruggedly handsome and often have a cigarette dangling from the corner of their mouth. By comparison, British police officers look like the soft kid everyone picked on at school; unlike the Spanish, whom I cannot imagine being very patient and long-suffering. So the Laws there regarding cannabis, which is a medicinal herb anyway, are rather lax; but the cop's are tough; but perhaps that's the paradox.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Still Ready For War: A book of about 3" thick caught my eye at the library last week. It was re-printing the top 5 favourite war stories from the comic's (Comix?) we had as kids. Those in particular were the 1/- (one shilling - now 5 pence) 60 to 70 page A5 booklets, which we used to buy and swap at school. The 'ordinary weekly' comics, for me, would have been during the 1957 to 1964 period, and the favourites were Lion, Tiger, and Victor. They had other stories included about sport and football, but some of the war stories were fictional, like Captain Hurricane, and some were true, which took up the back and front cover story in the Victor.
Both Lion and Tiger included a one-page cutaway, almost engineering style diagram of an aircraft or tank, and as the war stories would keep us young lads in touch with warfare, the cutaway diagrams would interest those who might be into designing and building the hardware for war in the future.
Despite no one wanting another war after two, or three counting the Crimean, in fairly quick succession, the comic's kept it in our minds - just in case.
But what are they doing now to keep it in the mind's of the young, now that comic's have drastically changed, and some lad's, not long out of school, are out there in Afghanistan doing it for real; I asked myself? And it didn't take long for my question to be answered: X-Box Live; and the 'Call Of Duty' game.
My son plays it live on-line with players from all over the world, speaking to one another on a headset, whilst Mrs. B and I often wonder if we should hide behind the sofa in fear? Such is the amazing soundtrack to this extremely popular game, it often sounds as if there are a troop of soldier's checking every room along our hallway, and shouting "Clear!" as they pass.
So despite the comic's changing to more pacified content, war is still there in the minds of the young, albeit subliminally, creating tactical minds and developing manoeuvres should the day ever arrive when they may need to use it.
Me? I gave up after 'River Raid,' in about 1991, which was cassette loading and immense fun.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Digger's Fruity Choice: They were our allies during the war, but have you ever worked with one? In their own way they are human dynamos, and their knowledge on just about everything on the planet, and indeed beyond, seems fathomless; which makes them very annoying!
In my time I have worked with two of them, both within the space of 2 years; and at the same firm. One, who worked with us in the warehouse, argued with our manager that nicotine was more harmful than heroin.
Debateable, I suppose?
They both kill you, one quickly, one slowly; but in both cases, very painfully.
But not only was he an advocate of H, he was also a user, and turned up late and unfit for work on many a morning; and as I told him, no one ever turns up late from smoking; unless they get hit by a bus running across the road buying a packet of cigarettes!
The other one was an office worker, the buyer, who quickly earned the less than original nickname of Skippy. A likeable chap, he also knew something about everything, and spent his lunchbreak with the rank-and-file in the tea room where he could prove the fact.
On his first day there, at lunch, he ended up sitting next to me. And because they're fit an healthy over there, he had to have two of his 5-a-day by eating oranges, and started peeling one by sticking his thumbs into the skin; which caused a large squirt of juice to go right up my arm. I duly wiped it in his jumper, and we laughed it off.
At lunch the next day, the same thing happened again, only the juice hit me in the face. "You'll be wearing that f***ing thing and walking funny if that happens again," I told him; but we always remained friends and tended to laugh about it.
After about 18 months, one of his daughter's "back home" (see yesterdays Blog!), in Australia, announced that she was pregnant; so Skippy and his wife decided to return for the birth of their first grandchild. On the day he left the firm, he walked around to say goodbye to everyone. Shaking my hand, we laughed and reminisced about our rocky start; so, to celebrate that very odd way of earning a friendship, I presented him with...a bag of Jaffa oranges!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Marconi Would Be Impressed: The Internet is a marvellous piece of kit, but until a night-shift job in a local factory in 2004; I didn't appreciate this.
Night-shift is odd, and being awake when we should be asleep plays hell with the emotions; so much so that I found myself getting all tearful and silly over Barry White and Tracey Chapman records; but fortunately, it soon passed.
But there we were, working through the night and listening to a local radio station, and around 2 a.m; the female DJ, whose name I don't remember, started talking about getting emails from Australia.
A Bournemouth radio station being picked up in Australia?
But of course, on the Internet, it can be, and in 2004 it wasn't quite as obvious and common place as it is today.
The daft thing was, though, these people had emigrated out there to live and work, but listened in to their old 'local station' to keep in touch with what was going on at home.
And it's so annoying when you talk to someone who isn't a local native, and they refer, usually with some degree of affection, to where they came from as "back home." If they're so affectionate about "back home," why did they move here in the first place; and if they're that fond of it; sod off back there!
But seriously, to be able to listen to any radio station in the world on the Internet is a marvellous thing. When I was invited onto Portsmouth's Express FM's 'Write On' programme, not only could I listen to it here at home when it was broadcast a week later, but so could MHB friends like Brian Key, in Kentucky, Jimmy McCarthy in Caithness, and Jonas Hogberg in Sweden. But our grandparent's would not be able to comprehend this innovation any easier than why, with so many contraceptives on the market today, the birth rate is so high? And this, which has completely changed the subject of the day, leaves me to ask: If we have safe sex to make sure we don't catch anything; why, when masturbating, do we try and make sure we don't get caught?
(My thanks to Julie Burchill for that marvellous observation).