Wednesday 27 April 2011

The squeezed middle

I don't watch News at 10 anymore: too much bad news before bedtime has the same side effects as a late night cheese sandwich - too many bad dreams starring Huw Edwards. But I still take a daily paper (for the crossword and Caitlin Moran, mainly) and I will always listen to the Today programme despite the irritating Thought For The Day and patronising weather bulletins.

So I keep up to speed with 'events of the day' and try and second guess what Cameron's Crazy Coalition will come up with next. But I, and many others it seems, struggle with the new lexicon that has suddenly sprung up. Big Society, AV, double dips, super injunctions. What does it all mean? And here's the latest meaningless flummery: the squeezed middle. Eh? You mean the poor saps who don't own their own home and haven't got a pot to piss in? Or the poor saps who do own their own home and still haven't got a pot to piss in?

Anyway, here's two choons that sum it all up; they may be separated by a quarter of a century but the message remains the same.

Friday 15 April 2011

Best thing since sliced bread

If this blog was a tabloid newspaper, the banner headline above would read something like this: 'BAKING BREAD KEPT ME SANE,' SAYS EX-TOWNIE. The truth is a little less prosaic; when I was getting my head round my (by now) much documented move, I read an article in a recent CAMRA magazine about the bond between beer and bread. When adding beer to the flour, yeast and water 'alchemy is unleashed.' So said writer and broadcaster Sue Nowak whose article 'Thorough Bread' ignited my passion.

To cut a long story short I'm now getting the ullage from my local pub and am baking dozens of loaves every week. My unique bread (each loaf is different, depending on the ale I use) is, for better or worse, the talk of the town. Well, alright, the talk of The Sun Inn! I recently spoke to Sue Nowak on the phone - we talked at length about about beer & bread and pubs, the upshot being that she's coming over to The Sun, next Tuesday evening, to see us all and sample the pub's excellent cask beers. And my (soon to be world famous) bread. Cheers!

Monday 11 April 2011

Going solo

Joe Solo

Regular readers will know that six months ago I left my city boy life behind, dropped down a couple of gears and pitched up in the country to a spot 100 miles north (and five degrees colder). After what I can only describe as a kangaroo start, I think I'm beginning to embrace rural life: I ramble (as in walking, I've always done the other sort), bake bread, prop up the bar of our local, I'm thinking of joining the local bellringers and I tut like a native when the flatlanders start arriving with their bloody caravans.

We still have culture, you just have to look for it in different places; concert halls and clubs have given way to village halls and backrooms in pubs. Much more civilized. Saturday night being a case in point.

It's only a hop, skip and a jump to the Memorial Hall where, playing to a near sell out crowd (it must have been nudging three figures), an all star bill gave of their time freely to play a charity gig in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support. David Quinn, Pick-a-String, David Swann, Four Quarters (well, One Quarter, to be precise, owing to illness), Sarah Dean and Anna Shannon performed with great aplomb and ensured they'll all be back by popular demand next time.

But the star turn, for me, was a veteran of the Hull music scene - Joe Solo. Once head honcho of Lithium Joe (John Peel used to play them in the mid '90s), he now plays, well, solo. These days he can be heard on Radio 2's folk programme where Mike Harding plays selections from his new album, If Peel Street Could Talk. His demeanor is a cross between Woody Guthrie and Joe Strummer, while his left wing credentials and anti-war material are pure Billy Bragg. But then Bragg never wrote anything as poignant as The Twelfth Of November: a song directed at war mongering politicians about burying the dead on the battlefield after peace has been declared - when he sang it, the room was deathly quiet. It's taken from his Potter's Field album which follows characters caught up in The First World War - he's also written an accompanying book, Stories From Potter's Field. He only played a brief twenty minute set but I could have listened to him all night.

This is from Peel Street.

A big thank you to Martin and Penny Robertson, without whom etc. etc.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

The lights go down

Hull's finest: Ken Wagstaff & Chris Chilton*

You don't have to be a fan of Hull City to read this post. You don't even have to be a fan of football. Here's the back-story: Boothferry Park was the home of Hull City from 1946-2002. They've never been a fashionable club. And until recently they've never been a particularly successful club; they plied their trade in the lower leagues for many years in front of a faithful following - many arriving at the ground by train. That's right, by train. The platform being at the back of the East Stand.

But then they moved. Not far, but they left Boothferry Park. To a shiny new stadium (as Boothferry Park itself must have been once upon a time) that looks like any other shiny new stadium; soulless and characterless. And what became of Boothferry Park? Look away now if you well up easily. This film was made in 2006.

The story as you've probably gathered doesn't have a happy ending. The final three floodlights came down last Saturday; now there's no visible evidence that football was ever played there. Again, those with a weak heart are advised not to click here unless they get a kick out watching three short clips depicting the decline (quite literally) of each remaining pylon.

I'm so glad my dad doesn't have access to the internet. We were both born in Hull and it was my dad who took me to see my first game of football at Boothferry Park in 1969. It would break his heart.

* I politely refrained from calling them Hull's leading lights

Monday 4 April 2011

Germany calling

It appears that these days everything looks like Hitler: cats, houses, even babies. Remember when Bowie was caught on film at London's Victoria Station in '76 doing his now infamous Nazi salute? I suppose when you decamp to the Fatherland and record three back to back albums that are referred to as the Berlin trilogy, it must be tempting to try a sneaky Sieg Heil.

Then again, he did have previous.