Yes, to me music is the start and end and everything in between. It is the goodness, the evidence of the divine, the transportation from the banal the sublime. It's felt in the fragile wistfulness of Debussy's Claire du Lune, the raw power of the Pistol's God Save the Queen, in the once and future sound of Video Killed the Radio Star, right through to the aching nostalgia of Fairport Convention's 'Meet on The Ledge'.
It is the bounce of an 80's disco as - a then - unfamiliar Madonna's 'Holiday' hits you through a throbbing bass vibrating the floor, the smell of perfume and the heady mix of cheap lager and youthful camaraderie.
It is the soaring guitar riff of The Charlatan's 'Just Lookin'' cutting through the air at Brighton's Event.
It is Lisa Stansfield and Blue Zone at Rochdale Football Club in 1986 - all mullets and big glasses.
It is a drunken Tim standing onstage at a Chicago Blues Club in a long overcoat playing and singing 'Mannish Boy' with all the passion tequila and respectful homage can muster.
It is in the choral movement of Beethoven's Ninth and it's epic climax - power, grace, counter melody. This is the riff-heavy 5th to the max with God thrown in.
It is the feel and beauty of Vivaldi's Winter Largo from the Four Seasons, impossible not to believe that this is the greatest melody ever written
It is a fifteen year old boy listening through expensive headphones to Jumping Jack Flash for the first time and being blown away by the power of rock.
It is in the poignant sadness of The Winner Takes it All as it plays through a soon-to-be-empty Brighton flat, a too-painful soundtrack to a failed domesticity.
It's The Beatles going down fighting on a rooftop in central London January 1969 playing themselves out one last time with Get Back.
It's in the all-to-apt breathing rhythm and aching guitar solo of Savage - Annie and Dave's masterpiece.
And it's in the two seconds between the middle eight and the scatter-gun guitar solo where my Marshall Valvestate 8080 growls feedback in anticipation, a horse about to bolt, a future direction, an awesome power awaiting to be unleashed on 50 people in a Kennington pub as I kick off the best guitar solo I've ever played.
Fate was indeed at my elbow that night.
* Passion's puppet is, of course, a telling phrase from my go-to Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius.
So, I'm on the 8:23 from Clapham. A late night in the office as I wanted to send off 'Parallel Tracks' to a short story competition. Hard graft made easier by some Cava. I played Terry Hall, tweaked a few words, drank a glass and sent away this future winner.
Anyway, so I get to Clapham Junction and get on my train. Sit down at a four table. Only one bloke diagonal to me - great. Whip out the Mac. Stories to write. Websites to edit. Usual stuff that an under appreciated writer does. We work - ALL - the time. In silence and unobtrusively. And then - opposite me - sits down a writer - a 'real' writer.
Let me describe her shall I? Not unattractive. Slightly boho. Wild and wiry hair. Glasses pushed onto her forehead. Voluminous scarf wrapped around her neck (I believe this is obligatory if you are a 'writer'.) And now she gets out a couple of beaten up leather notebooks and an ink pen. She figits. She attitudialises. She makes faces and waves her fingers around directing the very air with her abundant creativity! She looks concentrated. She writes furiously. She gazes off into the mid-distance as though being filmed. She smiles outwardly so that everyone can see she's written a bon mot. She flicks pages quickly and noisily as she writes.
She is a stage version of a writer.
I am in the presence of greatness. Sat at the Brontes' table as they pen their classics. With Thomas Hardy as he tours Cornwall in 1912/3 researching the Emma Poems. With Oscar Wilde in Hove as he writes 'The Importance of Being Earnest'. Partying with Brett Easton Ellis in the 80's perhaps, or sharing a car with Jack Kerouac in the 50's. Someone good, anyway.
Literary greatness sits at my table!
The thing about repetitive, quotidian behaviour is the seeming sense of permanence, of things always remaining constant. You see this especially as a commuter where you get up at the same time, perform the same actions to get ready, make the same journey to the station, pass the same people, stand in the same place on the platform, sit in the same carriage with the same people, do the same things on the journey, get off at the same platform and pass the same people as you walk to work.
Example: I know as I leave my house around 7:36 I will pass at the intersection a group of four kids, two on scooters, as they head towards school. After twenty seconds, they will go one way and I another. This has been happening for months now. And yet I know, that this glad happy morning – for them – will end and end very abruptly in one, two years never to happen again. And although I may walk the same route, I will never come across this foursome again.
How many groups of happy, singing, shouting children have I passed in a work career going all the way back to pre-history? Thousands. Maybe I sit amongst them as I write this on my commuter train. Maybe some achieved their youthful dreams they carelessly chatted about on those mornings when they crossed my path. And maybe some didn’t. Maybe most didn’t.
So, it’s with sadness that I see school kids on my commute every day. It reminds me how very temporary everything is, even things that seem forever permanent. So very quickly it all ends and then never happens again. Like friendships. Or your children at various ages (Slipping Through My Fingers describes this perfectly).
I’ve also mentioned this in the past in relation to buildings. How the sense of permanence hides, in fact, a constantly changing landscape and bit by bit, brick and mortar, things set in stone crumble like the happy group of school children or the person next to you on the station, who you smile at for ten years and then, suddenly, is gone.
Well this one is an exciting 20 minutes!
I always liked Abba and used to play their Greatest Hits 1974-76 in the 70's (pictured above). At university I defiantly played Abba - The First Ten Years. In these days of Mama Mia, you can't begin to understand how much derision I got. Clearly I was before my time in appreciation of good songwriting, crisp production and extraordinary vocals.
Anyway, as it was announced that the group has remarkably recorded two new tracks this year, here is my 20 minute Abba setlist.
The Winner Takes it All
Bang-A Boomerang (SOS)
All classics. The emotional highpoint would be - of course - The Winner Takes It All (their masterpiece). If this gig were played twice, then I'd alternate the early stompers Bang-A-Boomerang / SOS. Take a look at the video below. Mmmm, I'm thinking I'd like Agnetha and Frida to wear their cat 'dresses' in my fantasy concert... They could sing too, if they wished!
Whilst undoubtably a great Emperor, Diocletian (284/305), has a couple of historical black marks against his name.
1) The Tetrarchy (a system 2 senior emperors and 2 junior emperors). Diocletian saw the problem of one man ruling such a vast empire and also observed the chaos created by usurping generals in the mid third century. The system was supposed to provide stable government with senior emperors bringing on juniors who in turn would have Caesars to support them. It failed however as soon as Diocletian resigned and the renewed civil war was only finished when Constantine eliminated Licinius in 324 and became sole emperor (though he in turn, left the empire to his three sons and two nephews and so created a another bout of civil wars after his death).
2) His persecution of the christians in 303. Diocletian - prompted by his anti Christian junior Caesar Galerius, imposed strict restrictions on Christians, banishing them from civil service and the army, making them hand over their scriptures and, most tellingly, perform a pagan sacrifice. Many Christians refused and were killed in a variety of awful ways. It is here that St George comes in. A top general in the army, but a Christian, George refused to recant his Christianity and so was martyred by having his head chopped off after torture. Hence St George.
This story is probably a bit more likely than some nonsense about a knight slaying a dragon and rescuing a princess. The persecution did take place and many martyrs were created. To be honest, this is a better, more interesting story than the dragon rubbish. Why is it we were never taught this at school? It combines classical history, the early birth of christianity and - yes - fables.
Anyway, whatever, Happy St George's Day.
So a fantasy 20 minute playlist from the Fab Four - 1963-1965.
Ticket to Ride
She Loves You
Baby's in Black
I Feel Fine
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Long Tall Sally
Twist and Shout
I decided to open with the distinctive guitar riff of Ticket to Ride (which is probably my favourite Beatles single). Then in to the full on Beatlemania of She Loves You segueing into the waltz time of Baby's in Black. The bouncy I Feel Fine is followed by the I Want to Hold Your Hand single in reverse order, with the harmonies of This Boy and Lennon's stand out vocal calming things down. We end with a Paul v John face off, Long Tall Sally and Twist and Shout, the two standard Beatles set closers. These two could be reversed but they end the set on a high and V sign to anyone who has to follow. Beat that!
The video below has the Fab Four at their most energetic and really rocking. If you want to skip to 5:57 you will hear the best ever performance of Twist and Shout followed by the best ever performance of Long Tall Sally. The Beatles were on fire that night and although sometimes they seemed on tour a bit jaded or in it for the money, these performances show, when they were up, they were the best live band ever.
It’s a clever concept; take what Queen did at Live Aid in 1985 – produce 20 minutes of distilled brilliance from your back catalogue – and then apply that concept to other bands.
What would be your dream 20 minutes of your favourite band? The hits maybe. But which hits? Album tracks? Live favourites? So many choices.
Well, I’ll be posting some of my fantasy twenty minute sets from my favourite bands over the next few blog posts. I’ll be explaining my choices.
Let me know if you agree with them.
In no particular order, I’ll be writing set lists for :-
So far, so obvious...
The Stone Roses
Sounds a good game, eh?
When I was younger, I used to be a fairly frequent visitor to Haworth in West Yorkshire, home of the Bronte Parsonage, where the three sisters used to sit around the dining table in the mid 1840's and knock out Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. There's something magical about the place and its story of how Anne, Emily and Jane each became - briefly, so briefly - published authors before they died so very young.
Wuthering Heights is my favourite book. It uses and enthuses the dark, featureless moors that predominate around this part of Yorkshire. It's bleak spot and always guaranteed to be cold and rainy. Or so I thought!
Last week I week back to Haworth after a gap of several years. As you can see by the pictures, Haworth was bathing in sunlight, warming itself under clear blue skies. This is not what I wanted! I wanted dark clouds, intermittent rain, howling winds chasing people off the street and into appropriately named cafes cashing in on the Bronte's fame where taciturn waitresses would bring you a tea and bun and tell you the storm outside was 'owt about nowt'...
Well none of that!
How was the parsonage itself? Well, it seemed somewhat larger than last time I wandered around - was the entrance hall and gift shop there 20 years ago? Dunno, can't remember. The exhibits and memorabilia were all present and correct, from youthful tiny magaznes to both the sisters' and Branwell's pretty good artwork. Pride of place goes to the actual table all those great works were written (bought by the Bronte Society a couple of years ago). If, as a writer, this scene doesn't inspire you or fill you will awe, you're probably not a writer - or even a reader.
Leaving Haworth - using the 'old' route, i.e. a ridiculously steep hill where you really don't want to do a hill start at the top - I was thinking that I should reread Wuthering Heights. And then the others. So, I am.
Isn't that the point of muesums? Get you back to the source and renew your energies and passions?
We know the formula...
- A guitar riff
- Band joins in
- Singer screeches a verse of smutty lyrics
- The big chorus
- Another verse and chorus.
- Angus whacks out a solo, familiar and yet always different
- Double chorus. Fade.
And that powers a great career. Simple but effective.
Anyone who grew up when I did basically had a choice - for contemporary heavy metal - of Motorhead, Iron Maiden or AC/DC. They dominated teenage boys' lives and denim jackets. Gathered in bedrooms, we'd play these records and discuss their meaning. Well, with AC/DC there only ever was one meaning!
Bon Scott / Brian Johnson. Both great in different ways. Angus and Malcolm powering their way through, a steady beat, a boogie. A great rock n roll band!
I had the opportunity to see AC/DC in 1991 at the Wembley Arena touring The Razor's Edge. They played their new stuff - which was excellent - plus all the greats! I bought a tour poster of ANgus Young and put it up in my bedsit. Hello ladies. It didn't last long!
Top Ten AC/DC moments
- Highway to Hell
- Satellite Blues
- Problem Child
- Back in Black
- Downpayment Blues
- For Those About To Rock - We Salute You
- Whole Lotta Rosie
- Touch Too Much
- Hell's Bells
Anyway, here's a great video...
When I was younger (so much younger than today?), I used to collect many things. Old coins, bus tickets, soldiers, Doctor Who novelisations and old battleship postcards. I recently scanned those very cards so that I might share then on this site and save the images for posterity amongst a similarly nerdy community.
I also used to read books about warships but the ones that especially caught my interest were 20th Century battleships, starting with the eponymous HMS Dreadnought (1906).
The arms race between Britain and Germany before the WW1 produced many huge ships - battleships, battlecruisers - as Britain sought to maintain her naval dominance and Germany sought to catch up. This race is classically cited as one of the causes of World War One along with the tinderbox of the Balkans, the Great Power alliance system, colonialism and German military ambitions.
I've just finished Robert K Massie's book Dreadnought, a history so stately and magisterial you want to salute it as it hoves into view and leaves you bobbing in its wake. This near 1000 page book recounts the road to war told principally, though not exclusively, through the lens of the unfolding naval arms race. Thus we get to know characters such as Tirpitz, Jackie Fisher, a young Winston Churchill, the mercurial Kaiser Wilhelm 2.
The book dwells on the interconnected European royal families - how through marriage the crowned heads of Britain, Germany and Russian were grandmothers, uncles and cousins to each other. Famously, the Kaiser was half British, spoke English without an accent and revered his grandmother Victoria (he was present at her death). He was also an honourary admiral of the British fleet and often used to wear his admiral uniform.
The book describes how the scramble for colonies - a scramble that Germany came late to the party - led the Kaiser to want to protect trade routes which then generated a demand for a navy. Add Admiral Tirpitz into the mix and you have an arms race in the making.
Britain never had much of an army. As an island we always relied on the navy to defend our shores and so any acceleration of building plans would inevitably lead to Britain building more herself. This was - in British minds - not a nice-to-have but existential. First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher - an explosive character - also used this time to design a ship so far advanced of all previous ships, it made the others immediately obsolete. Once Dreadnought was built, the arm race started from zero again. Game on!
However, I left the book feeling somewhat depressed. The road from Sarajavo to the trenches (July / August 1914) is a slowly evolving car crash. How did the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Balkans lead to the slaughter of the Western Front?
1) Austria wanted to punish Serbia. Humiliate her.
2) Russia would not allow Austria to take over Serbia.
3) Germany would step in if Austria and Russia went to war.
4) France was bound to an alliance with Russia.
5) The German General Staff devised a two front war with Russia and France where the German army went through Belgium and took out France in six weeks (not unlike the previous war 40 years earlier) before starting on the Russians.
6) Britain was bound by treaty to protect Belgium's neutrality. Moreover, Britain did not want a potential hostile power with naval bases just across the channel. The German fleet would not be allow to parade in the English Channel shelling the Northern coast of France.
So there we have it. A shot triggered an escalating series of 'if you do this, I will do that' responses. Reading through the book as it gets to its climax one is left with the sheer inevitability of war and the powerlessness of politicians (Grey and Bethmann-Hollweg for instance) who couldn't prevent the outcome though seemingly they were in charge. A sobering lesson.
So did the big ships cause war? No. No they didn't. Although the one large naval action Jutland was a score draw that favoured Germany on the day, in the end the superiority of the British fleet kept the German High Seas Fleet at port. And then, after the war, the captured High Seas Fleet scuttled themselves at Scapa Flow where some of them still rest to this day - permanent reminders of the pre-war arms race.
USS Texas a pre-war Dreadnought of course still floats as a permanent museum.
It appears that - in terms of competition wins, places etc - 2017 was a horrible year for Tim Robson, the Writer. (Yes, that one. Not the other one.) Basically, although as active on the Apple MacBook keyboard as ever, seemingly nothing tangible came out of 2017.
"It's cause you're shit, Tim."
Anyway, if you take a look at my Roll of Honour page, you'll see that 2018 has started with a brace of third places in literary competitions. Yes, if that sounds like some Monopoly £10 second prize in a beauty contest Chance card, you'd be right. But I'd rather be third than fourth, eighteenth rather than thirty-second, praised rather than ignored, rewarded as opposed to not.
All publications are special, but I wanted to shout out Hit and Run Lover. This was a novel I wrote over several years. I spent ages on it; editing, rewriting, printing out, deleting, rewriting again. A real labour of love. And all for nothing. So, I'm particularly glad that the opening chapter is being published by those doyens of style, Grindstone.
As I think I've hinted before, I'm back writing another novel. It's contemporary, London-based, and benefits - I think - from lessons I've learnt the hard way about how to pace, add style and characterisation, plot. The more mature Tim Robson.
"What a pompous arse you've become."
Ah the Brits. Oasis behaving badly. Blur winning sack-loads. Jarvis Cocker jumping on St Michael's stage. Madonna falling off the stage.
Well, your correspondent was at the O2 on Wednesday night to get down with the kids and see what they're listening too. Or at least hang out with the corporate people in the good seats on a freebie and go "Who? Who?" every five minutes like some latter-day Duke of Wellington.
So, Tim's review and scores.
Evening, event and company : 10/10
Justin Timberlake - He's got a beard and he's a lumberjack and so, probably, okay. Next.
Rita Ora and that Liam bloke from One Direction - I liked this one as I've downloaded the track from the Fifty Shades of Rip Off movie.
Rag N Bone Man - Okay performance. But he just looks like a walking cliche of everything wrong with contemporary society - big, fat, tatoo'd, and that song 'Human' is just a victim searching for a hood. Still, did use a good West Pier backdrop.
Stormzie - A rapper apparently, your honour. Shit. Political. Yawn.
Kendrick - Another rapper, your honour. Smashed up a car? Why? Who knows? The ways of the rapper are mysterious and unfathomable.
Foo Fighters. Some plugged in rock n roll at last! But, as I only know, Times Like These, an air of the B side hung over their performance.
Dua Lipa - A self appointed feminist who wandered around wearing a G string showing her arse. That was the most memorable thing I remember about her. Probably mimed. My kids say New Rules are popular.
When I think Sam Smith was one of the best acts of the night, you know the music ain't to my taste. He held his tune though and - through constant car reptition - I know Too Good at Goodbyes.
Ed Sheeran - As I was in the loo when he started, my memories of the first half of his song are very satisfying. Why didn't he do Shape of You? Apparently 2017's best selling single. No, that would be like, obvious, man.
And then, we had the God-like genius of Mr Manchester himself, Liam of the Gallagher, Oasis Revisted! Yes, Liam was there to pay tribute to the victims of the Manchester bomber in 2017. Ariana Grande couldn't make it so up stepped Liam, with cello, beard and parka doing Live Forever. At last! A proper rock star singing a good song in a good cause. Sang his song and walked off. No bollocks about Liam tonight.
Yes of course he isn't like he was in 1994 but, there again, who is?
And then to the afterparty looking suave in my blue suit, white shirt, pocket hanky, looking every inch the new Justin Timberlake. And yes, I hit the dance floor. I'm already a legend and, like Caesar, I write my own PR.
I've posted my short story 'Second Thoughts' up on the Random Writing page.
It was published late 2016 having come 2nd in - now defunct - publisher Artificium's 2016 short story competition. I've written about the experience, and the genesis of this story before.
I hope you like it, and if you like stories of dating confusion, prejudice and second chances, it's for you. I'll publish more of my winning stories in the following weeks.
We all know that in the Mick Taylor Years (1969 / 74) the Rolling Stones were at their live peak. He added a real lead guitar muscle to complement their riff heavy catalogue. They went from being great to being the best. Watching the Stones in this period ranks - with me anyway - alongside watching Elvis 1969-72. Yeah, two great acts at their peak at the same time. Saw neither. Thank goodness for YouTube.
Apparently Keith Richards once told Mick Taylor he was great live but shit in the studio. There's a ring of truth to this - even if it was overstated. Taylor certainly was less dominant in the Stones albums he played on. Maybe he knew he was being shafted for song writing credits. Maybe Mick and Keef overshadowed MT when it came to controlling who did what and when. They certainly bossed the mixing desk. Playing live they didn't have the same control.
But dig (not too deep) and you have some classic Mick Taylor performances committed to vinyl.
I've tried to filter out songs where he was just 'one of the band' and purposefully pick songs where it's absolutely all about Mick Taylor. Agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments.
Mick Taylor appeared on Stones albums between 1969 and 1973*. They are Let It Bleed (just a little) and then Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goat's Head Soup and It's Only Rock n Roll plus the live album Get Yer Ya Ya's Out.
To me, I'd probably rank them Sticky Fingers, Goat's Head Soup, Exile on Main Street, It's Only Rock n Roll. Which is strange as my favourite MT tracks appear on It's Only Rock n Roll.
Sway - Sticky Fingers (1971)
Keith was absent and so the two Micks fooled around in the studio together, coming up with this gem. A real guitar-heavy rocker, taken at a stately pace, it's one of those Stone tracks that should be better known but it's cult like obscurity makes me feel good I'm in the know. As does my possession of an original Andy Warhol designed jeans zip cover (framed and on my wall next to 8/9 others of similar vintage). This was, for a while, my fav Stones track. Jagger sings exceptionally on this - as demonstrated by his later, pitiful, attempt on the 2013 tour. MT's guitars are hard, the solos fluid - slide and then full on rock solo as the track ends. One to look up if you don't know it.
Winter - Goats Head Soup (1973)
Winter is one of those epic ballads the Stones seemed to just knock off in their sleep in the mid 70's (Angie, Memory Motel, Fool to Cry, Coming Down Again). Just like Sway, it features no Keith Richards. What separates this from the others is the Mick Taylor guitar solo which is both powerful and incendiary. Taylor had a way of complementing Jagger's vocal lines, adding fillers and runs throughout the song. Like he would do when the Stones played live. Many people rate this his best solo. I enjoy it but, no, it would be bettered the following year.
Can't you Hear Me Knocking - Sticky Fingers (1971)
It starts with a Keef riff and then, according to MT, when everyone was putting their instruments down at the end of the song, the groove just continued - first Bobby Keyes on sax and then, the Master Mick, the God of guitar (virtuosity be his name) started soloing. One take. Not rehearsed. As live as you can get and this is the result. The Stones should have employed this method on their recordings 69-73; just turn Mick Taylor loose. What you get is a classic and a classic because he turns the songs around and pushes it into new directions. That's one of Taylor's strength - his ability to effortlessly improvise.
All Down the Line - Exile on Main Street (1972)
Rock and rolling Stones kicking it back in the South of France, noses in bags of narcotics, dodging tax and playing some of their best music ever! Exile on Main Street was a groove, a feel, the sound of - to steal a phrase from Sir Paul - a Band on The Run. Mick Taylor adds some sharp, rocking slide guitar, taking the solo. To see how hard MT worked on this track - watch the video below.
Til the Next Goodbye - It's Only Rock n Roll (1974)
Another acoustic ballad, another slide solo. Beautiful song and for some reason completely overlooked. Why?
Honky Tonk Women - Let it Bleed (1969) / Brown Sugar - Sticky Fingers (1971)
Two songs from 1969 (Though Brown Sugar lay in the vaults over a year). Mick Taylor's introduction to the band. Honky Tonk Women - apparently MT made a small but telling contribution. He rocked up the song from the country ballad (Country Honk) to the rock classic we know now. Brown Sugar, is another group ensemble song where MT adds to mix but doesn't stand out. Recording on the sly in 1969 in Muscles Shoals, it was Mick Taylor's suggestion that they play this unreleased song at Altamont when all was falling on the Stones' heads/ Didn't make the film Gimme Shelter but the audio of this first ever version is the Stones against the wall, punching back.
Time Waits for No Man - It's Only Rock n Roll (1974)
The boss. The winner. The best track Mick Taylor and the Stones studio track. So beautiful. So wistful. And that solo at the end! A fucking artist at the top of his game in a band at throwing in a good performance. In the late 80's I wrote a shot song called 'It's Raining Again' and the only good thing about it was that I grafted a sausage fingered version of this MT's solo in the middle. The song is perfect in every way -Jagger's lyrics, Keef's spine tingling riff, Wyman, Watts, Nicky Hopkins and Ray Cooper all adding to the mix. And then Mick Taylor solos like a bastard for two / three full minutes of magic. he employs Latin influenced runs up and down the fretboard. Wow! This is what the Stones could have been. This is the Stones, timeless, standing out of time, looking at us and beckoning mere mortals forward.
To read my other Mick Taylor pieces, click here...
* Yeah - Waiting on A Friend was reused in the 80's.
What's wrong with women? Specifically, what's wrong with women's profiles on online dating sites? So very much. I’m offended whenever I dip my toe into this crocodile infested swamp. I know men are worse; that as long as a picture has a pair of tits, they don’t bother with the nuances of grammar or the finer points of the pictures. But still, just because we know this doesn’t mean the bar has to be lowered to the ground.
Rant away Tim!
- A profile that begins with "I don't know what to say..." Yawn. Delete.
- A picture that's been doctored so that it now includes cartoon ears and a dog's nose. Or has cartoon birds or love hearts spinning around their gurning face. Delete
- "a profile that rambles with no attempt at punctuation I like dogs and going out dancing no time for players weirdos not into hook ups and love my family important message me if you wanna know more" Seriously the ability to form a coherent sentence, to express oneself with precision, seems to be lost. Do we blame the teachers? Probably. Absent fathers? The internet? Mobile phones? Donald Trump?
- Short women who only date tall guys. What's that about?
- Women who end sentences with lol. Any sentence, lol. Lol is the new full stop. Lol. No-one can punctuate anymore. But sentences abhor a vacuum and so 'lol' has been co-opted to fulfil the task. If I see a lol I pass by. Delete. Gone.
- Women sticking their tongues out. Why? So many post pictures of them doing so I must be missing something, some comedic or sexual reference that's beyond me. Maybe. But it's tacky and childish and seems to scream, "I"m mad, me!" Avoid. Delete.
- Negativity. So many women seem to think that an online dating profile is a very good place to opine about the short-comings of males, how we're all arseholes and deviants and after just one thing, that thing our online princesses won't give up easily. Lol. Some ladies also think their headline should be along the lines of "Don't contact me if you're after a one night stand". I'm not but who likes bad energy? Delete.
- Women who want to be taken seriously, who want someone to make them laugh, who can use punctuation, who won't treat them badly, who are solvent, educated and liberal. Not met one.
Should I just copy paste this article onto my profile? Bizarrely, the law of unintended consequences, of not giving a fuck being attractive, might apply. Okay then, bollocks to it!
Hello ladies! lol !!!!
I didn't own a car until 1997. Before that time I either walked, rode my bike or, for longer journeys, hired a car but, most probably, took the train. It seemed a better, fitter existence, though maybe I was just younger and leaner and reaping the benefits of living in a city.
In those days (roughly 1986 to 1997) in order to get between Brighton and Rochdale, I used to take a marvellous direct train that snaked slowly but surely between Brighton and Manchester Piccadilly. I checked National Rail Enquiries this morning, this route doesn't exist any more and one is encouraged to take the commuter train to London, hop on the underground to Euston and then speed up to Manchester from there. It's a quicker journey end-to-end no doubt, but more bitty, and less leisurely.
I remember the Brighton to Manchester journey (and its reverse) being around eight hours but time may be playing tricks on me. Perhaps it only felt that long! There were plenty of stops, from memory - a selection - Gatwick, Kensington Olympia, Banbury, Birmingham New Street, Birmingham International, Stoke, Crewe, Wythenshaw etc etc. Back in those days there were smoking cars and non smoking cars. I sat in either depending on whether I was smoking at the time. Buffet cars existed of course. I actually liked and looked forward to my British Rail cheese and tomato sandwich on white bread. In those days I typically didn't drink alcohol on trains. I was corrupted by a friend one time who brought a four pack with him for the journey. After that...
The interesting thing about the train was that - with so many stops - people were forever getting on and off and the landscape of interaction constantly changed. You might strike up a conversation with someone between say Coventry and Stoke, flirt with a girl between Gatwick and Milton Keynes. Sometimes it was busy, sometimes empty, and this changed depending on the day and the station.
In those pre mobile phone days, what did one do for all these hours? Well, one read, of course. Books and broadsheet newspapers. One could write letters. Yes, people used to write letters to each other! As my journeying was usually prefaced by a leaving - either an end of term or the start of term, letters were what we did. I remember one time writing a letter to a friend on this very journey and stopping in Kensington Olympia, and briefly looking up to see Princess Diana strolling by my window. She was walking along the platform and passed right by me. She got on our train - I believe in a special carriage - though I may be wrong about this - and hitched a ride somewhere (not Brighton, I think). There was no phone to take a snap of her and so I only have my memory of her being so close, separated from me by just a pane of glass.
I do remember the eagerness one got, impatience even, as the last hour of the journey approached. For me, arriving in Manchester Piccadilly, if my parents weren't picking me up, was the start of another journey: a cross town bus to Manchester Victoria, slow train to Rochdale, and parents or taxi for the last leg.
I wish I'd have taken more pictures of these journeys. I look at the stock photos on the internet and they seem so old, so quaint, that one mixes memories with fiction, imagining white linen clad restaurant cars and Belgian detectives, efficiently run trains and brass buttoned ticket collectors with stamps and strange hats. Like all memories one edits - either consciously or though age and declining brain cells - what is recalled. Probably there was lateness, smoky carriages, boredom, inconsiderate passengers but then also there were no inappropriate phone calls either and although many had Walkmans (if the batteries lasted!) not everyone had white trailing ear phones attached to phones. So people did talk to each other and, given the era, there was more of a sense of homogeneity about the passengers - a shared story, culture, prejudices. Gone now. But so has BR, the route itself, my hair, the careless use of time, being out of contact for long periods of time. Yes, the past is a very different place, how strange it seems sometimes.
The idea for this blogpost came from Peter Hitchens and his - far superior - memories of trains in Europe both now and then.from his Sunday Express column 21/01/18.