Monday, July 31, 2006

Last ever Top of the Pops

The end of an era for television. Amazing to think it used to get 25 million viewers. I suppose we all have memories of watching this show and finding things either really exciting or dire beyond belief. It used to be quite painful watching it but the week you didn't bother would have the Saints or Generation X on. It must have sparked off more rows between parents and their offspring than any other show - 'look at that idiot!' 'He's brilliant, you're the idiot' - that sort of thing. I suppose the last such argument like that in our house was when the Pistols were on doing Pretty Vacant. Happy Days.

Pinewood studio fire

Caught fire during shooting for Casino Royale, the new Bond movie. I personally don't like Bond movies and I don't think I've ever been able to watch one all the way through. Some of the older movies have some period charm these days but they are to me an example of lowest common denominator cinema. Like a trashy seaside town the explosions and the ludicrous characters probably say some pretty sad things about what we consider fun.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Irish bog find

War that made America clip

This short piece depicts the incident in 1763 when a native lacrosse game was the pretext for a surprise assault on the garrison.

Hastings 2006

A website with the guidelines for authenticity and safety for participation in the major reenactment taking place in October.

Goth

Have you noticed there are a lot fewer Goths about than there used to be - among the teenage kids of our fair land? I think it is safe to say that the recent Goth craze has died out - mostly replaced by Emo culture, or so it seems. Who knows? Maybe it's been replaced by something more individualistic but no doubt things will change again soon.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Battle of Neerwinden


Anniversary today of the French victory at Neerwinden (Landen) in 1693. Interestingly there was another battle of Neerwinden a hundred years later during the French Revolution, but this one is most famous for the death of Irish hero Patrick Sarsfield.
Oh Patrick Sarsfield, Ireland's Wonder,
Who fought in the fields like any thunder,
One of King James's chief commanders,
Now lies the food of crows in Flanders .

Wiki on Sarsfield
French language site on Neerwinden here

Nazi Aircraft Carrier found

German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin discovered in the Baltic. Wiki on the GZ

Friday, July 28, 2006

Black-footed ferret


I know you're probably bored with me going on about ferrets but this is an interesting anniversary - it's 25 years this September that this creature was rediscovered - it being originally thought extinct. Since then it has been successfully introduced into areas to control the prairie dog population on which it almost exclusively feeds on. So check out the above website to learn more about these beautiful creatures and what can be done in the US to help bring them back from the brink. Why not adopt one?

Punk survivors Buzzcocks still relevant

Recent piece about the success of Manchester punks the Buzzcocks.

Ferret Couture

Now that Paris Hilton has a pet ferret - Cinderella - they are considered officially fashionable. But we knew that already didn't we? Anyway jumping on the bandwagon Breakfast news featured Ferret Couture - a company that specialises in fashion for fuzzies. Looks pretty good with camo clothing, hoodies and so on. Worth checking out if you are thinking of getting a ferret.
The American experience with ferrets is very different to ours - they don't have a tradition of hunting with them and most people keep them neutered and descented living indoors like a cat. In the UK they tend to be kept outdoors though its not unknown in urban environments to have indoor ferrets, having the run of the place. There is evidence that ferrets occupied the same space occupied by cats in medieval times gradually being usurped by the feline, so maybe a comeback is overdue. Anyway, time to go feed ours...

Bristol Harbour Festival

If you like boats then the place to be this weekend is Bristol harbour with its mixture of ships and music, starting at 6 pm this evening. One of the main attractions is a famine ship the Jeanie Johnston coming over from Ireland. Wiki on Bristol harbour

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Adventures in Oz

A collection of artwork based on the L Frank Baum Oz tales by Eric Shanower. Info here

Battle of Killiecrankie 1689

Today is the anniversary of this battle fought in Scotland between supporters of William of Orange and Jacobite Highlanders. Famous for highlighting the deficiencies of the plug bayonet - a knife that fitted inside the muzzle - fixing it too soon reduced firepower of the muskets enabling the Highlanders to close relatively unmolested.
Images and so on here
Battlefield resource centre piece

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Genghis


This is another of the little darlings - named after Genghis Khan - a great ferret owner apparently. Also a great lover if the DNA evidence is correct.
It's quite a good time to name something Genghis as this year marks the 8ooth anniversary of his conquests. 'For Mongolians, he's almost like Jesus Christ. They feel very close to him.'
BBC article about Mongolians celebrating the great man.

Imdb top 250 films

This is an interesting list of movies - there's been quite a few votes so it seems a fairly representative selection. Not keen on the Lord of the Rings films so I think they are overrated - not that bothered about the Godfather either, but the rest seems good. Channel 4's 50 films to see before you die was a tragic list - more like 50 films we own and are showing all the time.

Robert Johnson's guitar

Interesting article about the legendary bluesman's guitar up for sale. Estimated to reach 3 million pounds.
Johnson is one of the most influential of all the great delta bluesmen - particularly among white rock guitarists as his King of the Delta Singers compilation was a widely owned album in the early 60s. I think he's brilliant, particularly lyrically. I used to listen to him a lot way back when though these days I prefer to listen to Charley Patton. Definitely you need at least one Robert Johnson album in your collection - the guitar isn't so essential.
Wiki on Robert Johnson

Low level Spitfire clip

If you are a fan of the supermarine spitfire you'll love this footage.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Water Pistol wars come to London

Warnings abound about sparking a terror alert - see above link as water pistol game comes to London. Guardian article here
The official website says
StreetWars is a 3 week long, 24/7, watergun assassination tournament that has already taken place in New York City, Vancouver, Vienna, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and is now coming to London.
At the start of the game you will receive a manila envelope containing the following:
A picture of your intended target(s)
The home address of your intended target(s)
The work address of your intended target(s)
The name of your intended target(s)
Contact information of your intended target(s)
Upon receipt of these items, your (or your team's) mission is to find and kill (by way of water gun, water balloon or super soaker) your target(s).
You can hunt your target down any way you see fit; you can pose as a delivery person and jack them when they open the door, disguise yourself and take them out on the street, etc.
If you are successful in your assassination attempt, the person you killed will give you their envelope and the person they were supposed to kill becomes your new target. This continues until you work yourself through all the players and retrieve the envelope with your (or your team's) picture(s) and name(s). Then you win. Cash…but first live in fear.

Shangri-Las 'Long Live Our Love'

This is a classic from the best girl group in the world ever, the Shangri-Las. As this is presumably a song that was about the Vietnam War, the backgrounds seem surreal to say the least. If you don't own one Shangri-las compilation then go out and buy one now. It is the perfect sound of summer. It's hard to put down in words why the records are so great - they are like perfectly drawn teen love story comics that capture the emotions of being young and dramatic. Mary Weiss is apparently recording a solo album for Norton records. Watch this space.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Locust 'Half eaten sausage' video

This is recommended by my eldest daughter Bea.
Official site here. Wiki here
WIKI say
The Locust are famous for having a synth-heavy, heavily distorted, crust punk (particularly on early releases) and noise-influenced sound, as well as a disturbing stage presence. Singer Justin Pearson has said, "I just want to change the way people look at music or maybe just destroy it in general."
The Locust have a unique stage presence. Costumed in skin-tight, full-body, white (or green) suits with large, black mesh, bug-like eye and mouth coverings, these suits help create atmosphere during their shows. Unlike most bands, which normally have the drums set up behind the other members, the four members of The Locust are all positioned in a line at the front of the stage.
Lyrically, The Locust is a scathing satire of popular mainstream US culture, homosexual culture, and US politics. Amidst the high-pitched screams and shrills of the vocals, it is nearly impossible to discern what is being said.

Bull Run article

Interesting article on the reenactment last weekend.

Inflatable tragedy

Two killed when a huge inflatable broke loose from its moorings and took off, injuring many at Chester-le-street in the north-east. More here - video footage here

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New York Dolls 'Dance Like a Monkey'

Tv clip from 2006 of one of the tracks off the new album. I must admit to being pretty excited by this forthcoming Dolls album - Johansen is a great singer with a real pedigree of writing classic songs. His solo stuff was brilliant though usually ignored as it came over a little too singer-songwritery for the time, but good stuff nevertheless. I can't wait to hear it.

New York Dolls new album and interview

An interesting article about the reformed New York Dolls new album One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This. Sounds like it's worth getting with new compositions that look interesting.
Guardian review
'It's the kind of rollicking, party-rockin' fandango which, genuinely, nobody has the spirit or wit to put together these days. Primal Scream's latest, for one, rings hollow and heartless by comparison.'
Get it here

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Frome

this little mention of Frome in a review is worth noting;
By Miles Kington
I've never quite worked Frome out. It's a sleepy little Somerset market town with a big industrial past. It may seem dull, but it's full of surprises, and going there is a bit of an adventure. It's not a wacky old hippie place like Glastonbury, but there's something quirky about it which gives it a lot of flavour. And I can't be the only one who feels drawn, because recently it has started attracting quite a sprinkling of talented people to live there, many of whom are, oddly, jazz musicians.
rest of article here

Ferret Frequently Asked Questions

Here's some useful information for those of you considering buying a pet ferret this summer, he says optimistically.

Reenactors prepare for Bull Run

This weekend sees the reenactment of Bull Run - an early Confederate victory in the American Civil War. It's only done every five years apparently so it will be worth going to if you're local. The uniforms of Bull Run are fascinating - much more colourful and fancy than the later practical outfits. Confusion reigned on the battlefield as both sides had grey-clad troops. Zouave uniforms were worn extensively. Anyway if you can't make it why not watch some videos of earlier reenactments. Historical articles

Visitor information

Friday, July 21, 2006

UK Stiffs 'White Riot'

Here's something exciting - Frome old school punk band The Stiffs playing live from a week or two ago at Midsomer Norton Mardi Gras doing the Clash's White Riot. I love this sort of technology where you can put up videos like this and potentially reach the whole world. It opens up a way of bands doing what they do in front of whoever wants to see them.

Dog ends rooster's reign as cock of the walk

The sad end of Big Red.

today's ferret photo

Strelets-R World War One Cavalry

The Great War isn't normally associated with cavalry actions but in the East the cavalry arm was still important. So it is fitting that a company from this part of the world should release a series of 1/72 WW1 cavalry - mostly Russian and German types - so the epic clashes of the Eastern front can be modelled. Cossacks, Dragoons, Hussars - all are in the shops and selling well by the look of it. Read about these figures at the Plastic Soldier Review.

Woman fired for blogging

Johnny Depp and Bath

Apparently Heat magazine has an article all about Johnny Depp's hang-outs in Bath - one of which is Moles by the way - so I thought by way of helping would-be Depp spotters get nearer their target I'd list some place where you won't find him;
Bath Bus Station - too many drunks with cans of beer shouting abuse at buses and poor people milling about - useful for character research but bad for being photographed
Royal United Hospital - too many old and ill people shuffling about - a distinct lack of beautiful people here unless you like nurses.
Bath Spa Project - still not open despite costing each man woman and child in the area hundreds of pounds
Bath Charity Shops - even with a 6 figure salary it is unlikely that JD will be able to afford the prices charged by Bath charity shops where it is cheaper to buy brand new anything they have on their racks.
The above link takes you to a forum where rumours of Depp buying a property near Bath and what pubs he's been seen in are there.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Military Odyssey, Kent

Someone asked me about this event - I've never been but it is a large reenactment show - mainly World War Two vehicle orientated by the look of it. Check out the images to see if its your cup of tea.

The Game

One of our favourite rappers the Game is famous for his feuding with other artists notably 50 cent. Black Wall Street site

Corgi 50th anniversary



Today is being celebrated as the 50th birthday of Corgi - the toymaker who brought you the James Bond Aston Martin, the Batmobile and others. Their first model was the Ford Consul - coincidentally the first car my parents ever owned back in about 1963 costing them £200. This Corgi is now available as a reissue from the above link. I ought to get one - my folks' Ford Consul was a khaki colour though. If I was to get in one now I would probably instantly vomit as I remember that any journey in those days would always involve much throwing up. I can probably say I've been sick in every lay-by in south-west England. Playing loud music cures car sickness we found - it stops the sound of outside the vehicle confusing your brain apparently and its a good place for introducing your little ones to the delights of the Ramones, Buzzcocks etc. I remember my first musical memory in the back of the Ford Consul - me sitting there hammering the seats in front singing 'all the pieces, bits and pieces' in imitation of the Dave Clark Five.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

JRR Tolkein and the Somme

Interesting piece about Lord of the Rings' author Tolkein's wartime influences.

Beyoncé Deja Vu video

Which one is Beyoncé? asked Sue when she saw me watching a Destiny's Child video once - 'the one that looks like a goddess cast down onto earth' sayeth I. Son's friend George came round the other day and started slagging her off - 'we don't make unpleasant comments about Beyoncé in this house' I said ominously. He went silent but I was only joking. However she is my favourite of the Pop Princesses. In fact this is a game you might want to play - rate the pop princesses - stating why and how - ideal for a long car journey. Anyway this is the new single - having her wearing a load of different looks and hairstyles throughout the video in 5 second clips is the style these days - there is one outfit like a raffia ra-ra skirt that looks hilarious - the dance routine with it looks ludicrous too - but there are some good moments in the video - although I'm not overly taken with the song...yet. wiki on Beyonce wiki on Pop Princesses

Bobby Gillespie beaten up

Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie has been beaten up in a bar in Madrid. Details are still vague but Gillespie is thought to have been attacked in a hotel bar Friday night (July 14), after playing a gig in the city. They had to delay their appearance for Top of the Pops which will be worth watching to see the black eyes.

Primal Scream 'Dolls'

This is the forthcoming single from this band - the 2nd off the Riot City Blues album. Did you know Bobby Gillespie's dad used to be a SOGAT official? That's a printing union for you folks not involved in that honourable trade.
Anyway - I couldn't initially find the video so here's them playing it on Jools Holland. Primal Scream are playing Bristol in November which makes a change for them to go there. I might say something nice about them. What do you think of this track? Lyrics here Sounds pretty mundane to these ears, or should I say this ear as one is heavily bandaged. Video tour dates and so on at the official site

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Saxondale comes good

Steve Coogans's new character comedy about an ex-roadie with anger problems really hit a high last night with some laugh out loud moments. Maybe it was because the gags were about sex but it seemed to really hit some hilarious moments as Saxondale gets all jealous and paternalistic towards his young apprentice.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It Came From Detroit trailer

This city has produced some great bands over the last ten years or so. This documentary sets out to chart them. Official site

Napoleon the Ferret


I thought the historical Napoleon was supposed to have a powerful body odour but my search on the subject only had stuff relating to Napoleon enjoying Josephine's bodily smell; “I return in three days,” he wrote. “Don't bathe.” Fitting to have a ferret named after him then.
Apparently Napoleon was of above average height for a Frenchman. He was also born with a full set of teeth which brings us back to ferrets. They are very active creatures when they are awake, and accordingly hard to photograph but when they are asleep they are dead to the world. They don't like this hot weather at all but we spray them with a fine water mist and give them as much shade as possible.

Quotes of Napoleon

Today is the anniversary of Napoleon surrendering after the Waterloo campaign, and to mark this I named one of our baby ferrets after him. Above is a selection of quotes from the great man.

Balloons

We get lots of hot air balloons coming over from Bath - it's a fairly commonplace occurrence but yesterday one came perilously close to landing in the sewage works that is at the bottom of the garden. This photo doesn't do justice as it was already reascending by the time we got the camera. We had great fun imagining the people on board with their glasses of champagne screaming in terror as their day out looked like it was going to end in a very messy way.

The Ramones 'I wanna be sedated'

One of my favourite Ramones songs. The Wiki on the Ramones say that they are widely acknowledged to be the first punk rock band. Hmmm. Of course we all know that the first punk rock record was by the Neon Boys featuring Richard hell and Tom Verlaine. 'I Wanna Be Sedated'... I am having an ear operation tomorrow so I suppose it is fairly appropriate. This song came on one of the hits channels just after England got kicked out of the World Cup and it seemed the right choice. Wiki on the Ramones

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Kubrick's Napoleon obsession

A Scanner Darkly

This looks fantastic. Linklater directing. Wiki here. Based on the novel by Phillip K Dick it utilises a type of animation known as rotoscoping or cell shading - look at the trailer to see what I mean. A Scanner Darkly is set in suburban Orange County, California in a future where America has lost the war on drugs. Star-studded cast - this is going to be big. Imdb here

Execution of the Duke of Monmouth

Today is the anniversary of the execution of the rebel Duke, captured in a ditch near Ringwood dressed as a shepherd.
The execution was a botched affair. The Duke offered the axeman a purse of coin if he did a good job but this was not to be. The axe was not sharp and the first blow glanced off. Several more attempts were made to no avail and by this time the crowd were becoming insensed. Finally after about 6 blows the head was finally severed using a knife. The executioner had to be escorted off by a body of troops as the crowd were by then extremely angry at the poor ending to a popular figure. Soon handkerchiefs were being dipped in the blood of the new martyr.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A History of Violence

Great title - based on a graphic novel, this is the most recent movie by David Cronenburg. Starring Vigo Mortenson as Tom Stall an average family guy running a diner in small-town Indiana. Or is he? A robbery ends up with him gaining prominence and as a result of this old friends look him up. Although this seems a straightforward enough thriller - man with a violent past assumes a new identity - old self comes back to haunt him - this provocative film asks all sorts of awkward questions. This being a Cronenberg movie the special effects are particularly graphic.
Wiki on the movie
Guardian review by J G Ballard here

2eme battalion des Volontaires nationaux

As it's the 14th July I thought I'd feature a living history group that recreates the French Revolution period - in particular the National Volunteers - the Levee en Masse that changed history. This group seem to be Russian with plenty of images to look at.

23rd Foot - Royal Welch Fusiliers

I was trawling the web and came across this photo of me with the 23rd foot - one Britain's best American Revolution period regiments. The location is the Ulster American Folk Park and the photographer Rosemary Jones who has taken some great shots - check out the gallery for more photos

Bow wow wow 'Chihuahua' video

A musical ray of sunshine on this fine summer's day. This video is a gem I hadn't seen before which shows the band frollicking in the countryside. As I've said on this blog before this band were one of the best live acts I've seen - the musicianship was exemplary - which is a change from the bands I usually like, who normally can't play. But BWW were so young to play so well. They exploded on to the stage in a hail of fireworks and dancers. Wiki on Bow wow wow

Hype Machine

A place for finding all the mp3 blogs out there and making the music available apparently... see if you can find anything you want to listen to... I can't
news article Music Blogs - Its the New radio

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pom Poko

I watched this Ghibli cartoon from the mid 90s for the first time today. A very captivating tale of war and survival among raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) it has to be seen to be believed, it is so imaginative, though apparently it is loaded with folkloric references. The opening scenes are great - the creatures are initially drawn realistically on four legs but when they go to battle a rival group they stand up and transform themselves into bipedal creatures that look like Care Bears with samurai armour and weapons. Very strange.
Gallery of stills here

Mobb Deep featuring 50 cent 'Have a Party'

This is one of the few pop records (hark at me showing my age) around that I like at the moment - you gotta love this stuff - besides it might grow on you - you might get yourself a G-Unit baseball cap. Actually I think its quite fashionable in some quarters to 'ironically' like this type of stuff. How do you like something in an ironical way I hear you ask? Maybe start by reading the lyrics
Mobb Deep wiki G-unit wiki

Walker (1987)

This is an Alex Cox movie about the filibuster William Walker. Probably most famous these days for its Joe Strummer soundtrack and his cameo appearance it is a fascinating look at a forgotten historical character.

New York City Draft Riots

Today is the anniversary of these riots against conscription in the Civil War that took place over three days in New York in 1863 mainly by Irish. Portrayed in the masterly Scorcese movie Gangs of New York

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Zidane's mother wants to see Materazzi castrated

That's a headline to die for. Mothers eh? Always with the castration!

Yo la Tengo 'Tom Courtenay' video

New Jersey's YLT have done some pretty funny videos - this one is a good chuckle - based around supporting the Beatles.

Yo La Tengo are set to release the follow up to 2003’s Summer Sun this September. The trio will release I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass on September 11.
The track listing is:
Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind, Beanbag Chair, I Feel Like Going Home, Mr Tough, Black Flowers, The Race Is On Again, The Room Got Heavy, Sometimes I Don’t Get You Daphnia, I Should Have Known Better, Watch Out For Me Ronnie, The Weakest Part, Song For Mahila, Point And Shoot, The Story Of Yo La Tango

Official YLT site
Wiki on Yo la Tengo

Jackdaws

The last few weeks around our home has seen the annual assembly of Jackdaws, who noisily gather for a time, arguing and fussing in their hundreds. After a while they disperse and quiet returns. They are very intelligent birds and legends abound of courts and parliaments which have included the punishment of offenders and the election of 'Kings'.
We hand reared about 6 a few years ago as their nest had been destroyed, raising them on mealworms and cat food. They were often kept as pets by country folk in the old days and I've heard people used to split their tongues with a silver sixpence and thus enable them to be able to talk like parrots. Ours became very tame and would land on our heads and hands at a moment's notice, especially if you were carrying food. They would also land on the back of our dog and hitch a ride. Apparently Jackdaws land on the back of sheep to eat ticks so this may have been a version of this. We decided to reintroduce them back into the wild so little by little encouraged them to spend more time with the other birds. Initially they used to come back beaten up but gradually they seem to have been accepted and stopped coming back. Occasionally though we do get visits by a gang of by now huge specimens who generally shout a greeting before flying off. Wiki on Jackdaws

Bristol Craigslist

Craigslist is a listing site - city specific that offers a wide range of subject headings. A modern urban phenomenon. I wonder if they take ads for ferrets?

Article on the history of the head-butt

June Allyson dies, aged 88

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rob Bryden's Annually Retentive

BBC 3's new comedy sees Rob (Marion and Geoff) Bryden playing a quiz show host, both on screen as the quiz show itself and behind the scenes in an 'Office' style imitation fly-on-the-wall. The results are hilarious and a delight to anyone cynical enough to laugh at the way crap tv is put together and the reality behind the smugness of celebrities. A typical gag would have Bryden and P.A. going through a list of potential celebrity guests making acidic remarks about them - often later the very person is in the studio getting the treatment from Bryden as a callous host. Everyone including Bryden himself gets a going over in this brilliantly acted and written show. It's a simple concept and it works a treat both as an insight into the world of inane television and as a vehicle for some wonderfully witty remarks.

More on the head-butt that will define 2006

There is a media frenzy on this - it's not just me. Zidane's family have been interviewed on the phone and reckon he was possibly called a Harki or terrorist. The Mirror has a piece on all the various conspiracy theories. Interesting piece worth reading on lipreading in the media.
The Associated Press reports that the Parisan anti-racism organization SOS-Racism stated today that "several very well informed sources from the world of football" say Materazzi called Zidane a "dirty terrorist."

War Toys

We need some toys for the ferrets - educational ones mind you - nothing war related... what is it with parents these days when they do that? Don't they realise that they risk making it even more desirable - better off going down the pound shop and buying the most trashy and annoying army playset there is and hope for the best. Some of the best outdoor games you have when you are a child is playing war. Of course you don't need toy guns for that - dried earth makes great grenades and sticks can be made into most weapons. Will they grow up and commit atrocities? Depends on what world they grow up into.

A masterpiece rumor of the Great War

Interesting article about the rumours of beings living in the caverns. There was an underground society known as the Sanctuary that operated in the Great War consisting of deserters and men posted missing who lived off stolen rations and travelled by night. According to Allison and Fairley in The Monocled Mutineer they would operate in the coastal areas waiting for boats to get them back across the Channel. Stories of armed gangs of mixed nations living in No Man's Land also were in existence.

Meg

A movie about a Megalodon - an 80 foot ancestor of the Great White shark - based on Steve Alten's bestseller. Directed by Jan De Bont of 'Speed' fame. Tagline; Jurassic Shark.

(I belong to the) Beat Generation

I heard this track for the first time the other day - by Rod Mckuen and the inspiration for the song 'Blank Generation'. It's a kind of spoken lyric so the above link takes you to the words.

Materazzi talks

Italian defender concedes he did make an offensive remark.
Materazzi, 32, told Gazetta dello Sport: "I held his shirt for a few seconds only, then he turned to me and talked to me, jeering.
"He looked at me with a huge arrogance and said, 'If you really want my shirt, I'll give it to you afterwards.' I replied with an insult, that's true.''
Materazzi has not elaborated on what he did say, but one report suggested he responded with: "I'd rather take the shirt off your wife."
He has denied, however, some of the more vile insults referring to his wife or sister or calling him a terrorist.
"It was one of those insults you're told dozens of times and that you often let fall on a pitch,'' Materazzi said.
"I did not call him a terrorist. I am not a cultured person and I don't even know what an Islamist terrorist is.''
He added: "For me the mother is sacred, you know that.''

More on the Zidane incident

This is getting beyond funny with all the different lip readers and their version of what was said and what Materazzi said. I must admit I find it fascinating though I am not sure why. I think its the fact that real life appeared on the pitch. The divisions in the world today had the last word on something that tried to go beyond all the prejudices and be something more. The Italians, swathed in corruption brought shame on themselves and their culture by winning at this price - by attacking Zidane's Muslim background - if that's what they did - they ruined the World Cup - possibly for ever.

'Written again in English Blood' Afghan war repeating history article

I used to chuckle when I watched the news back in the 80s when Soviet troops battled the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. 'Don't they read history books?' I used to say. Now we're doing it.
Wiki on The Great Game

Monday, July 10, 2006

Zidane abuse revealed

According to the Daily Mail anyway. The BBC lipreader came up with something else on Newsnight that went something like 'An ugly death for you and your family'. There was also a long numbered list of speculative insults some referring to Zidane's mother who is apparently ill. The Italian perpetrator is keeping quiet indicating a pretty serious taunt. I suppose we'll never know, what would be interesting to know was how premeditated, how orchestrated was it? Did someone research his life to find out what buttons to push?
Official Zidane site

Play the Zidane sending off game

Speculation rife over what enraged Zidane

If you are as cheesed off as I am that France didn't win the World Cup they deserved read the above article on speculation about what caused the incident. Watch the incident here
If it was a racist taunt then given that FIFA have made such a fuss about making racism history then the Italians should have their victory revoked. Simple as that - or ban them from the next competition.
I am going back to my normal status quo of not being remotely interested in football - I am not sure whether I enjoyed the World Cup - I think the refereeing was pretty rubbish, and I found myself annoyed by what went on the pitch. Foulling and diving are so endemic as to deny the game any flow and all the much-vaunted players seemed to spend their time idling and waiting for the ball. I don't know anything about football - what I do know makes me think it's beyond saving. There was a brilliant German movie on Saturday night The Miracle of Bern set in the 1954 World Cup and it showed an era before money and corruption ruined the game.

Article on Zidane's background

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Shame about France

That was a disappointing result for France - they were clearly the better team - what happened with Zidane? I suppose it was just a coincidence that it was the same ending with the same referee for the England v Portugal match. I feel sorry for the French but I suppose at least they now know how it feels to lose on penalties. Grim ending for the competition.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Middle daughter is off to see this today. Everyone loved the first one - bar me - of course and I am sure this will be a hit. Imdb here Shot back to back with the 3rd film which is coming out next year this may mean even the biggest fans might get a little sick of it. I don't really like Pirate movies - I can't say I've ever seen one that really had any effect on me - but I am sure my opinions won't make a jot of difference to the Disney corporation. I don't really like Depp's Keith Richards impression much and that's obviously central to enjoying the movie, don't like swordfights much and I didn't like the way they mixed periods with the costume - off the top of my head sometimes 1770s and sometimes 1700s. The comic elements were pretty lame too. So given that this movie will be like the first one I think I will give it a miss.

Everyone loves the Clash

Provocative Stiffs frontman Grant provoked a historical debate the last time I saw them by saying something about the Ramones inventing Punk Rock and this time have created a response by me to the statement 'Everyone loves the Clash'. Well sorry, but I don't.
I don't know when I first didn't like them - from the start I thought the music was so-so - I thought 'White Riot' was pretty disturbing and when I saw them on the White Riot tour I was decidedly unimpressed though I kept quiet about it for some time. In fact I bought all the singles and saw them about 3 or 4 times but I never really got into them. I thought it was me. The music press wrote endlessly about them - serious articles with arty pictures of them posing like rebels - they were a fashionable band - doing all the reggae stuff - they were the 70s fab four. I think that was what made me dislike them. All the support bands for the Clash tours always went down terribly with the fans - yet they were the real bona fide article in most cases - Suicide - Richard Hell and the Voidoids - Clash fans generally gave them hell. Why? Cos they weren't a slick rock band like the Clash. Think of the Slits and the Buzzcocks on the White Riot tour? People liked it but there was a tension there, some awkwardness. On come the Clash and it's boom - rock and roll! But hang on - it isn't supposed to be 'boom! rock and roll' - we could go and see AC/DC for that - might these fellows be a con-job? Not real punks but old blokes, some clever musos who've been taken down to Boy on the King's Road and then politicised by some talcy malcy type? Strummer was 25 in 77 - I was 17 - they seemed to me like the same old blokes who hung around in guitar shops in their Rod Stewart haircuts waiting for a break. But I kept my opinions to myself. I do remember writing a letter slagging them off to the NME after seeing them live for the last time. It wasn't printed. Anyway I can honestly say apart from playing the first lp maybe once for nostalgia in the last 29 years I can't say I missed them.
Maybe it is me. I didn't like the Pistols much either. Sue and I turned down a chance to see them while on holiday in Cornwall - they were playing in Penzance coincidently while we were there. We thought it would just be an evening of violence. We were on holiday from that sort of thing! I know people deeply love the Clash and hold them with great affection and so on but I don't know I can't see it. Totally lacking in any humour, they weren't bad enough at playing, they always said the right thing, and they made lots of money. They weren't punks - they were a rock band.

The Stiffs

The Stiffs wowed the crowd at the Midsomer Norton Mardi Gras yesterday. It was great seeing them on a proper stage and they handled the crowd excellently and with good humour as they roared through the punk classics of the 70s.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Live at the Griffin

This is a one second clip of us Animals and men playing at the Griffin Inn Frome.

Bad Detectives

A packed Griffin Inn paid host to the Bad Detectives last night - kicking off the Frome festival with a package of rock and roll originals that weaved deftly between rockabilly, country, cajun and surf. Their set of original songs covered all manner of subjects, from Americana to cars, human drama to movies. Everyone was enjoying themselves immensely but all too soon a trio of covers 'Leave My Kitten Alone', 'Louie Louie' and 'the Banana Split song' closed the evening's performance. The pub is a micro brewery so if you like beer and original rock and roll you could have been forgiven for forgetting you were in Frome and thinking you'd died and gone to heaven. CD here

Heavy Trash

This is Jon Spencer's new band with Madder Rose's Matt Verta-Ray - featured on the album chart show tonight channel 4. Official site here

Friday, July 07, 2006

Wire 'Practice makes Perfect' video

Practice makes perfect from the great post-punk band Wire. I say great as I am not a mad fan of their later stuff but the Roxy era Pink Flag stuff I do like.

Ringwood Monmouth Rebellion weekend

If you're interested in the Monmouth rebellion then this weekend Ringwood in Hampshire are staging a number of events with the Sealed Knot - above link for info. Sealed Knot's Monmouth pages are here. Full of images of their past 1685 battles.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Battle of Sedgemoor

Today is the anniversary of this, the last battle on English soil. A dreadful event for Somerset at the time - now a topic for tourism.
Did I mention we met an old boy of about 85 who said that in his youth once a year the bones of the rebels were dug up and paraded around the village.
Here's a picture of me in dark blue portraying a Rebel while filming for BBC Education. The venue is Glastonbury tithe barn - now a Rural Life Museum.
1685 society webpage for more stuff on the Monmouth rebellion. Alas this society is no more but I do think there is still a niche for a good quality Monmouth rebel living history group - recreating a camp - forget the battles - but researching individual personae and learning about the non military aspects of 17th century life.

Diddy Wah Diddy

I did a search for the song title on this one. I love this song. Originally by Bo Diddley, and covered extensively throughout the 60s - any version will do as it such a good song. I am so confident that no one can ruin this song I am posting this link of an Australian band from 1967 - I'm posting it without listening to it, knowing it will be good how's that? Now to listen to it....
OK - not bad - didn't like the way they threw in an extra chord in the chorus and it is a song that really needs backing vocals but it was worth the posting, I think.

Thank you France

For beating those diving Portuguese! What a disgrace to football they are.
It was a fairly dull game but lively enough as every time Ronaldo got the ball as there was booes and whistles from the presumably English people in the crowd who had confidently bought tickets for the semi. I don't ever read the papers but I understand there is a campaign against this young striker. On ITV 4's 'World Cuppa' (I was waiting to see John Boorman's movie Zardoz, alright?) he was described as an 'evil cheating lady-boy'. Ok - enough is enough - if anyone is going to be hounded out of football it should be that egg-headed Swedish so-called Coach Sven Goran Erickson. What a mistake his appointment turned up to be. My dog could have done better. Still listen to me talking about football - I shouldn't really be doing that - I'll be talking about politics next.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Great War Russian reenactors

Check out these Russian reenactors of the 1914-18 period. Lots of images.

Roast beef dinner

My son bet me I wouldn't put this picture up of my yesterday's dinner, so here it is. It's carrots, peas, new potatoes picked from our own garden and locally produced beef and yorkshire pudding. Gravy of course. It's a sort of Independence day meal where you can enjoy all the things Americans never developed a taste for - obviously mugs of tea go with this.

Zerox Machine Adam & the Ants promo

Here we have an early promo to the indie hit' Zerox'. Guitar by the great Matthew Ashman later of Bow wow wow. A demo version of the song contained the refrain 'David Bowie' after the chorus 'I'm a Zerox machine' - but that was dropped, probably sensibly before this single version came out. To be honest, most musicians Adam included are 'zerox machines' but they usually manage to dress it up to be looking like something new and not seen before. One could argue that that is what makes pop interesting peeling away the layers of copied licks and lyrical influence. Nowadays often that is all there is - that is there is no new individual element thrown in the pot but I can understand there is only so much you can do with guitars.

Go France!

Well an entertaining match between Germany and Italy - a good fight to the finish with a spectacular twist in the tail ending. The Italians played some classy football. The Germans were dogged Odonkor doing some energetic work keeping them on the attack but they were outclassed. It has to be France now that must win this trophy. First up to trounce Portugal - this shouldn't prove too much of a problem. I like the Italians don't get me wrong but my allegiance for this tournament is with France.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

French regiments in the American revolution

Check out the troops who really tipped the balance in the American Revolution in Washington's favour and in particular at Yorktown (left). Both the army and navy had undergone reforms in the wake of the loss of the Seven Years War and so both arms were state of the art for the late 18th century.

Fourth of July

Well it's the fourth of July and when an Englishman of a historical bent says something like that you know you're going to get a load of facts about how unpleasant George Washington was and how we're so glad not to have a colony like that anymore but I say it's time to change our tack. We have to acknowledge America as our wayward son. It's no use denying it anymore - the USA is our unacknowledged, unloved and unspoken of offspring from way back when. A chip off the old block! Just like his father. We experimented - we were young - we thought we could create a New World but we just made another version of our old one - bigger and of course more showy but really just like the old one. We don't like your obsession with guns but we think you may grow out of that. America is like a gangly overgrown son who has grown up just like his father despite trying to be so different. There was almost a tear of pride - almost a glimpse of recognition as our misbegotten son when the US eventually joined in on our side in our big wars last century but we carried on. We tried to disown you but I suppose now with American foreign policy being so much like our Pax Britannica and gunboat diplomacy of the Victorian era we have to own up. Even the whiff of religion is just like us last century. Happy birthday, son.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Surrender at Yorktown event

The World Turns Upside Down, Again:
225th Anniversary of Surrender at Yorktown to be Commemorated October 18-22, 2006
Yorktown, VA — The Brigade of the American Revolution is pleased to announce their collaboration with Colonial National Historical Park and Endview Plantation to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the surrender of over eight thousand British, German, and loyal American troops to George Washington’s Continental Army and French allies on October 19, 1781 in Yorktown, Virginia.
Check out these great photos from the 23rd Foot - Royal Welch Fusiliers.

Let's go for France

Who to win the World Cup now then? I'm going for France - after all they beat Brazil and they seem to be an interesting team to watch. They have a high proportion of bald headed men in there too. Now my football logic disappears. We can't support Portugal after the way they wound Wayne Rooney up - that wasn't fair. It has to be France. There is a specific date - 1871 I think, during the Franco-Prussian war that the English love affair with Germany ended - and that is the time that France replaced Germany in this nation's affections and this unleashed a torrent of cross-channel fraternization as wealthy Englishmen saw Paris as a playground and queued up to enjoy the pleasures forbidden in Victorian England. Waterloo had seen the end of a century of Anglo-French rivalry for a maritime empire. The French had died bravely alongside our own in the Crimea. The Prince of Wales embodied this new love of France, and sowed the seeds of the entente cordiale. This entente was of course to cost the English dearly as they lined up with France in 1914, but what alternative to this action did we, a supposed liberty-loving democracy have? We may have thought that France was decadent and corrupt but we couldn't deny we'd enjoyed its decadence and we saw Germany's unsophisticated militarism as an anachronism, a shadow of our former selves in an earlier century as we bullied our way into acquiring an Empire.
That's not to deny there's a good deal of anti-French sentiment in English working-class culture - partially a gut reaction against the middle-classes' so readily embracing any French thing they can get their pudgy hands on, and partially a resentment of the blood that has been shed in their defence in the last century, but these are also the same people who when they are over in France on a weekend break enjoy themselves with abandon. I am also sure working-class French people hate the English middle-class as much as we do and wish they'd holiday somewhere else but what can you do?
You know you love the French really. You eat garlic bread without giving it a second thought. Your ancestors died in their hundreds of thousands defending their right to print dirty postcards and have a useless army. We should want them to win the world cup.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Somme and football

I thought it was a myth that footballs were kicked across no man's land during the Somme - due to the confidence in the barrage having silenced the enemy guns or so was the story - but this artefact proves this to be the case. Fitting in some ways that the anniversary of the Somme should coincide with National football mania. Football was played between the Germans and Tommies during the Christmas truce and the game was close to the heart of the men who went over the top that summer. I think they, the fallen, would be happy to think that because of the sacrifices they made we can get irate about the football, drink beer and eat strawberries. Thankfully Europe is a peaceful place where we can devote time to such idle pleasures.
One man to remember is Walter Tull a black professional footballer who died during the Great War.

Tribute to the Irish dead on the Somme

Francoise Hardy Tous les garcons et les filles (1962)

To celebrate their victory over Brazil why not spin this video of French chanteuse Francoise Hardy - I don't have many French records apart from Metal Urbain but FH occupies a good few spaces - mostly bought from junk shops but nevertheless indispensable. She does the definitive version of Catch a Falling Star (in English) that is just mesmeric.

official site

Expertism

This is an interesting concept that we have come across while selling baby ferrets - but it exists in all worlds and at every human endeavour. It seems that the human brain needs to be an expert in something - it can be anything - and then it must tell everyone all the facts about the field in which he or she is expert in. We've had a cavalcade of ferret experts come through our doors all with their tips and advice - usually contradicting one or another. Some people are 'expert magnets' though - these people attract experts to 'tell them all about it' - Sue's one of these magnets - if you're one be ready to hear lots of useless information. I am prone to expertism. Maybe that's this blog in a nutshell. If you want an afternoon of being expertised go along to an historical reenactment. You can be explained to death. There is not a lot of room for two experts on the same subject in the same talking space so they tend to prowl in singular form. Experts meeting each other while on the hunt for listeners can have a messy set-to. Still who am I to talk on this subject - I'm not an expert in this field.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

End of term paintballing

Red had a great time at Hamburger Hill doing paintballing - he reckoned the muck about aat the end was the best bit though. He's bottom row on the right. Look at George's headgear (top row right) - he's singer of Felix and the Teabaggers - Writhlington's fave band at the moment.

Remembering the Somme

At 28 minutes past seven the signal came, a flare exploding, then whistles to send troops out of trenches and towards the German lines.
Nearly 20,000 were killed on the first day. More than a million would die or be injured by the end of the battle. More here

The footie

Well what's the opposite of elation? Deflation? Oh well - what is there to learn from this experience? Give up if there's an Argentinian referee? Don't put your faith in heroes? I don't know. It seemed like the England team played better without Beckham and Rooney - why would that be? It was a gripping match but in the end disatisfying. But I suppose we share these disappointments.

Scarlet's Well Live clip

Bid's (of the Monochrome Set) new band Scarlet's Well perform a live track 'Salamander' from the album 'Black Tulip Wings' at the Luminaire in London on June 14th, 2006. Well worth watching

Come on England!

There will be some nails bitten today around the country. Will it end in tragedy or will the country be celebrating tonight? I predict a hammering for Portugal - I know that's not the form - England usually play badly against poor teams but this might be the day when things finally gel. What do I know anyway? I predicted that the Ukraine would get stuffed but there was no crystal ball needed there. Italy basically ran rings round them. England should do the same; Portugal with players missing will fall apart. If they don't I will sulk.

Redmond's Leaver's day

My 16 year old son had his school leaver's day yesterday and this involved scrubbing up and wearing a whistle and flute (rhyming slang).
He got a prize for from the headteacher for being so intelligent but also being so modest about it! Honestly!
The class are celebrating with a paintball match so next time we see him he'll be no doubt covered in little red bruises. Good luck.