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.
“You look good. The beard suits you,” she said giving me a one up, one down look. She turned to her flatmate. “Men always get better looking as they get older!”
Now receiving a compliment from a beautiful French woman – albeit patently untrue – is an ego boost whether you're 20 and square jawed or in your forties and bald. But how to react?
I probably blushed and mumbled something inconsequential. I’m not used to receiving, let alone taking, a compliment. When something is unusual, out of the ordinary, I tend to burble a forgettable response. I might have said something complimentary back. Sincere and merited - no doubt - but all the same, knicker-not-dropping banal.
So, in retrospect, here's what I should have said:-
1) "I know." Short, classy, the blonde in a Little Black Dress of receiving compliments.
2) "Get your coat you've pulled." or it's cockier twin, "Get your coat, I've pulled."
3) "Give me a fiver and I'll let you lick my beard." Yeah, sounds a bit 'out there', no? Slightly perverse? But, I knew a girl once who liked to suck my beard. Yeah, I said beard. Weird and yet shockingly erotic. (Forgot that until just now. Muse. Muse. Muse.)
4) What about - "You look great too! Get on your dancing shoes and we'll head to an age appropriate club that plays songs from yesteryear and we can pretend we're young." Usual Friday night then. Tim rides the sofa solus (again).
5) "The secret is regular sex. I need to do it four times a day. Oh look! I think I'm due a session now." Tacky. Tacky. Tim. You didn't say this did you? Er, probably. Later. Slurred perhaps. Women love that.
6) "Thank you, I don't believe you but I'm happy you said that. You however always look great!" This is probably the best response. Acknowledge. Deflect. Give back. Must learn this one.
Anyway, next time I get a compliment I'll post it on this website. They don't come often. Not as often as I'd like. There was one in 1988. I have the letter.
It's getting to that time of year again.
The Ascension of the Lord's garden is fenced off in preparation for selling Christmas trees. Fine. Fine. But who the hell buys cut Christmas trees in early November? Fools. That's who.
Bar Social has Christmas lights in October (see picture). Ocean going stupidity - like Christmas carols playing in a garden centre during September. Like scraping into a car in Tesco carpark and doing a runner without leaving a note. Just crass.
The fashion this year is for the ladies to don a wooly hat with a pom pom. Today I was falling over fashionable Clapham women in these accrutiments sashaying past me and into memory. Which reminds me, I think I need to upgrade my head gear - had a business meeting today with a client in a flat cap.
Tim switches from white wine to red wine in honour of the festive season. Let us not forget the religious nature of Saturnalia. Er, Christmas.
Below we have Oasis going toe to toe with Beatles around Xmas 1994. They are the only group who could (briefly) take on The Fab Four and not get their ass handed to them. Enjoy.
(Part 2 of the Self Indulgence series)
Although I don't often drink, I think an article on my drinking habits is well overdue. The world tugs at my sleeve and begs to know. Afterall, I know you all want to buy me a drink, right? So let's take a look
Pre-University - The Rochdale years
Ah - The Brown Cow, The Grapes, The Elephant and Castle, The Madison, Yates Wine Bar. Yes, young Tim cut a dash in Rochdale. What would you buy him? Well, frankly anything, but if pushed snakebite and black (do you wanna cherry with that?), or Bacardi and Coke.
I remember one sunny day in May 1987 sat in a field drinking a 1979 Portuguese red, eating Stilton and reading Wuthering Heights. That would be the high point naturally. However, awful, gut rotting cocktails, Kronenberg 1666 for 70p, cans of pale ale and pints of lager and lime, these were the real drinks that powered my intellectual assault on the left wing fantasy that was Sussex University in the 80's.
Girls, Amex and nightclubs
Amex used have a Sports and Social club where the drinks were cheap and where younger members of staff got pissed and then got off with each other. In and out of love, young Tim used to be double parked with large whiskies and lager. Apparently doubles - downed in one - and in a manly fashion, allowed my 'funny' personality to take a walk.
One thing that annoys me is smug couples in their late 20's, early 30's playing at being mature and living their domestic existence. Earnest dinner parties are held, polite conversation dominates, babies are born and careers pursued. Received wisdom and cosy consensus are very much welcome. Craft beer is drunk sparingly and The Sunday Times Wine Club's box of mixed eagerly anticipated. Yes, I was that person. Once. My smugness has gone. Gone.
Cigarettes and alcohol. Sambuca, whiskey, wine at home, beer when out out.
And now (late 30's)
Wine. Mainly Cava. Large glasses of red. Interestingly enough, I was out with four girls a couple of weeks ago in Hove. Yeah, me and 4 girls. Sounds like the cue to a joke, right? Anyway, like a girl, I had a glass of wine. They all drank pints of lager. I'm going to have to road-test this new sophistication, try it on for size and see what it brings.
Anyway, I thought you might like to know.
(BTW I like my indulgences somewhat of the selfish variety).
(Self Indulgence Alert)
I have some dark moments from my past that play on my mind. Where I feel an apology is owed to those that I hurt.
Awful relationships? Cruel jibes? Insensitivity? Missed birthdays? Can I get an amen from all those who know me. But let's get specific and name where a sense of atonement is most needed.
I am truly sorry to those who suffered in the 90's listening to my various bands in the 90’s. Jesus! there were some bad gigs.
So - who gets the apology? Sadly few as my band didn't play Wembley that often. Well, not at all. We had a gig in Finchley once. Awful.
Tempting Alice, The Hare and Hounds, Brighton 1992
Tempting Alice was an indie, baggie type of band with decent musicians. I was the singer. At our penultimate gig, following my normal warm up of a few doubles, I decided to swing the mike around like Roger Daltery. Inevitably a fumble occurred resulting in some painful microphone to singer’s head action. End of Set 1 with singer on the floor. Set 2 opened with me now demanding I play guitar on one of my own songs. A sensitive folk ballad went down in flames in a hail of overwrought feedback as I pushed it all the way to 11. Overdoing Pete Townsend this time, my energetic wind-milling ending with the amp and myself falling off the stage. No one rushed to help.
The Pinter Boys, Amex Sports and Social Club, 1994
Two years later, I was leading a power trio. For this gig, I enlisted a Bez like tambourine player and my then girlfriend to sing harmonies. The Tambourine player had no rhythm and my girlfriend couldn’t sing. The bassist muttered darkly about Yoko Ono. Using a borrowed guitar that went out of tune on the first chord, I bludgeoned the audience by playing as loud as possible. The audience disappeared. The band played on. However, as I also edited the staff magazine, I gave the gig a glowing review.
Shambolic at the Norfolk, Brighton 1995
After some ‘musical’ disagreements, The Pinter Boys became Shambolic. Shambolic were my band and I was the lead singer and lead guitarist and Der Fuhrer. We deserved the – at first – disinterest of the sparse audience and then – after I broke not one, but two strings – their derision and boos. A real low in the history of live music. A truly shite gig. Captured on tape to my mortification.
Shambolic at Sussex University Free Festival, 1995
“Get off you wankers!” – an anonymous audience member.
How was this allowed to happen? How did those students so self-hate that they booked my band to play at their festival? Drinking my rider like a thirsty 70’s rock band, I took to the stage in what might be termed ‘high spirits’. At once abusing and pleading with the audience, I occasionally broke off my ranting to play a few songs. Mistake. Soloing on my knees at one point I managed to pull my guitar lead out to the biggest cheer of the set. The low light was an out of tune rock version of Kim Wilde’s Kids in America. The rape scene in Deliverance had more sensitivity.
Shambolic, New Cross, London 1995
Backing up a band of 17-year-old wannabes, this New Cross audience wasn’t really in the mood to listen to a band seemingly made up of Status Quo roadies. I managed six songs before breaking a string prompting the venue manager, with enthusiastic cheers from a partisan audience, to tell us to get off (he may have used another word). London's never been a great town for my band. Tough audience.
Shambolic at the Freebutt, Brighton 1995
Awful, shameful and embarrassing. Friends came, friends laughed, friends left. The highlight of the gig was someone from the audience standing behind me with a large sign saying ‘This Man Has No Penis’ as I soloed on oblivious. Briefly I thought I was bringing musical joy to the world. No, they’re just laughing at you Tim.
Shambolic at The Road House, Crawley, 1995
My, this was a lousy gig. In one sense, it was a success as we got out without being hit. I decided to play sober to up the musical quotient. And then I realised it wasn’t the drink that held me back; it was me. No one who was there – band, punters, staff – will ever look back on this night with pride. You should visit the Road House now to view the plaque put up after the gig which reads ‘Shambolic died here, on stage, 1995. Good’.
Shambolic at The Hare and Hounds, Brighton 1996
For the last ever Shambolic gig, I somehow got us booked to the scene of my downfall 4 years earlier. This time I made sure I was well and truly pissed before I plugged my Marshall in - provoking the inevitable ‘Can you turn it down mate’ from the barman. Off my tits, I missed out whole sections out of songs, fluffed every solo, sang out of tune, forgot the words and decided I was now more a ‘comic’ than a frontman. The gig ended with a ragged ‘Sweet Transvestite’ from the Rocky Horror Show before I sacked the other two members of the group live on stage. They didn’t look too upset.
My career in a rock band was now officially over. For those that saw these gigs, who suffered through that cacophony of dissonance and feedback I called music, I heartily apologise. They were shockers – drunken fiascos, self-indulgent and artistically redundant.
Sorry or not though, I miss those days.
Occasionally I break habits, turn things around and walk a different path. In these moments I have cider instead of wine, the pesto chicken instead of the steak, wear Oxblood shoes instead of my usual two tone brogues. But sometimes more than that; impulsively joining a gym, or booking a weekend away, quitting coffee (yes, I did the latter last week).
On Monday, I'm starting a night class in Richmond. Web Design.
Huh? How's that work Tim? You're writing this on a goddamn website already.
True, I am, but - like my chatting up skills - I can always get better. So after 10 weeks, expect new things, great things on this website! What? Who knows? All I do know is :-
1) It was a total bitch setting up this website with me falling down more blind alleys than a drunken gimp running wildly through a nighttime Souk.
2) There's loads of stuff I could be doing here that is just too much of a faff to work out myself. Most of the controls on this website I've no idea how to use. Who knows, the text could be dancing across the screen backwards in multi coloured letters as I charm and amuse. Or maybe I can work out how to link this website to Social Media.
3) Monetise my fanbase. Well obvs kids. Wait for timrobson.eu sponsored by Tom Ford or Waitrose Bavette Steaks or, indeed, Battersea Arts Centre. How much, I mean, how much, have I plugged this place in the last year? A shit load. I mean, getting 10% off my drinks - though my membership expired in April - doesn't nearly cover all the free advertising they get from this site. Nowhere near, at market rates.
4) The chicks. Computer classes are well known as pick up joints. We all know that. A smile, a sly wink followed with "You coming out for a cheeky drink, love?". We all know where it leads. As you were.
5) There is no five (Oh grow up Tim).
So what I'm saying is - quite literally - watch this space!
Tim Robson (Making Britain Great Again)
As you know, this website's URL is www.timrobson.eu.
The .eu suffix is, of course, amusing to me for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, timrobson.co.uk and timrobson.com were already taken. A little research has revealed that they've been taken by some goddamn tennis professional who doesn't seem to have used his website since about 1894. He was, apparently number 490 in the world in 1983. Who knew? Thing is, I was probably number 822 myself. Playing lefthand. Anyway, he's somewhat greedily grabbed my name on the internet. And not used it. Bastard.
And there's that other Tim Robson 'writer' out there who writes wanky business books about how to fellate the boss and achieve your goals by showing up, pulling off, or something. Haven't read it. Amusingly Amazon assigned his book to me for a while and my sales shot up by at least a couple of copies. Yeah, okay, so my figures doubled. Whatever. I'm sure management consultant Tim Robson is a nice bloke, and all, but he winds me up as he seems to be SEO'ing my ass into second place.
There's only on Tim Robson - writer. He's funny. Bald. A hit with da ladies.
But in some ways the other (lesser) Tim Robson - writer, helped to take out 'Pervert Tim Robson' from Google's Tim Robson first page search results. For some time - before I took up the internet burden of my name - some peado in Yorkshire was the man. The Tim Robson you were directed to. Now imagine all the dates, ex-friends and curious ex-girlfriends I missed out on during these years of internet quietude.
"Oo - I wonder what that sexpot Tim Robson is up to now?" Tap. Tap. Tap. "Pervert Tim Robson Jailed". Erm. maybe I won't get in touch.
Images. Stealthily as my popularity grows (this month has already had the third largest traffic ever and we're, like, only half way through) - the more Tim Robson (me, the hunk, keep up!) pictures appear. Currently, two in first line of images thanks to my good friends at Almond Press.
So - what has this got to do with Mick Taylor? Fuck all. But as people seem to come from all quarters of the world to read my Mick Taylor articles, I thought I'd cheaply cash in on that. Yeah, I'm that sad and I'm that low.
But enjoy the Mick Taylor video below. A great, great version of 'You can't always get what you want' with a guitar solo so ridiculously good, it preaches the gospel. From about 3.10 MT kicks that proverbial ass.
“Since the baby, she never wants sex. I mean ever.”
“Define never,” I say, these things being somewhat subjective.
“Lucky if I get it on a Sunday morning. The brat always wakes up in the middle though. It’s like it has a sixth sense. I start pounding away and then it begins with the crying. Happens every time. I usually come with the sound of crying in my ears.”
“Hers I bet.”
Phil hasn’t heard. “It’s got to the stage where I literally cannot come now unless I can hear crying. If there’s no crying, I can’t come.”
Imagine a world where Branwell Bronte came home to the parsonage in Howarth one winter's night a bit pissed. His sisters and the good reverend have gone off to bed and the fire in the sitting room is almost out. Stumbling around, he finds a load of papers on the table and throws them on the fire. They burn brightly and Branwell falls into a drunken sleep as the only copy of Wuthering Heights goes up in smoke.
Or what about; it's summer 1965 and the Beatles, fresh from playing The Hollywood Bowl turn up at a pre-arranged meeting at Elvis Presley's Los Angeles pad. The Fab Four and The King chat and someone gets out instruments and one of the Memphis Mafia says, let's record this. But the guy with the tape machine puts the reel on badly and so nothing is recorded! (BTW - this didn't actually happen. Though they jammed a little, as far as I know there are no bootlegs of this famous summit meeting).
Or maybe in some early Christian Council following Nicaea in 325, a bunch of bishops are choosing which gospels to go in The Bible. Naturally they select the Gospels of Judas, Thomas, Philip and Mary. "Throw that nonsense written by those heretics Matthew, Mark, Luke and John into the city's dump" they might have shouted.
You get the picture.
Things of value hidden, lost, thrown away.
Well, it was nearly that way this week when I left my rucksack on a Thameslink train back to Sussex. Just got up off the train and forgot my bag. Which had all manner of electronic devices and personal stuff packed inside. Including this laptop. As I'm constantly working on articles, short stories, poems, history, the laptop has many irreplaceable words of wisdom, fun and import penned by me on the 19:23 from Clapham Junction after a couple of wines at Battersea Art Centre.
For example, the quote above, is included in my current story - The Decline of The Dinner Party. Image if it had been lost to the world? Luckily, a cleaner handed in my bag and the world need not mourn the loss of untold, incalculable but well-written Robson.
I'll leave you with another from the lost story that was found again:-
"It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
Whoops, that's Luke 15 but here's some real wisdom:-
“I work in fracking. You know, extracting gas from rocks by high pressure water techniques.”
“You’re joking!” she says as though I’ve admitted to a liking for casual racism.“No, it’s an interesting job and it’s well paid and I love the moral dimension.”
“What the fuck is the moral dimension?”
“Well, as I’m sure you know, cheap energy means cheap fuel, which means that pensioners and poor people don’t die in winter. Cheaper energy lowers industry’s costs, makes them more efficient and provides job opportunities for millions of people. This reduces welfare and increase taxes to pay for good things like doctors, nurses and schools. Julie, it’s a moral mission to get that gas!”
The world has been saved these words and wit. Rejoice at that news!
Wandsworth Council quite clearly have so much money they can just piss it up against the wall.
There's an interesting example of digging holes and then filling them in again happening on Lavender Hill. An act of such pointlessness it would be funny if it wasn't for the fact the taxpayers are taking a beating again.
Lavender Hill had pavements in red brick. Bricks tend not to break and fracture like concrete slabs. The pavement is therefore in pretty good condition (excepting the non brick, stone slabs outside Battersea Arts Centre).
So what are the Council doing? Digging up and skipping a perfectly good pavement and then putting down another.
As an act of pointless waste of tax payers' money this is quite high. I literally cannot understand what the hell they are doing. Maybe, they signed some bullshit deal with a contractor that means they have to rip up the pavements every X number of years. Irregardless of condition.
Wandsworth is a Tory Majority run council. You can't trust the Tories when it comes to money. I suppose they had to justify their 3.99% council tax increase in 2017/18 somehow.
Of course, Labour / Lib Dem / Green would just hose the money into the Thames so it's a choice between a kick in the goolies or being shot.
--- --- --- -- --- ---- ---
So here I am. Worrying about the state of the pavements in Wandsworth. I think - girls - I should start re-engaging with you. But, once you turn on that switch, there's no turning it off. You have been warned...
A packed commuter train at East Croydon on the 7:52 to London Victoria.
The train is about to leave the station.
Some tourist with the world’s biggest back-pack forces himself onto the train just as the doors are closing. There’s no room but he somehow manages to leverage himself into the carriage. And his bag.
We all shuffle up and the train slowly starts off.
Two minutes later - as we pass Selhurst - the tourist starts to look agitated.
“Gatwick! Does this train go to Gatwick?”
For a while no-one answers.
“No, it’s going to London Victoria,” says a kind soul.
The tourist looks mortified. Visions of missed planes flash in front of his eyes.
“But I have to go to Gatwick!”
There is an embarrassed silence as everyone looks the other way. Then a voice pipes up from somewhere down the carriage.
“Well you’re going to London now, mate!”
Pause. General laughter.
And lo! My bitching and moaning got my wifi sorted.
8:30am Saturday morning a good BT engineer turned up. Often they are shit and uninterested. You're just a number. Not a name. They turn up, fiddle about and then leg it knowing the thing ain't gonna work and that some bitch in customer service is going to get a thrashing.
I can't help feeling my thermo-nuclear eruption on Thursday had something to do with my resolution in record time (still late, of course). My non sweary rant had me 'personally' go for the customer service rep. I alluded to the fact that Sky tape their calls and hoped her manager would be playing this back to them soon. And how it should be used in their annual appraisal to determine her annual pay rise. I made my formal complaint against both Sky and the customer service rep. Unfair perhaps? Random - certainly. Cruel? NMFP.* Effective. Yes.
By the way the rep was confrontational, incompetent and insensitive.
All my years in customer service has proved to me one thing; he who shouts loudest gets their complaints dealt with soonest. It shouldn't be that way but nine times out of ten it is.
It's only when people are personally engaged that you get great customer service. From a company stand point that means allowing the front line to override policy if they deem it necessary. To reward regularly and comprehensively incentivise the front line. From a customer point of view you need to get names, set deadlines, invoke complaints policy, make it personal. Only then will you be taken seriously.
I'm basically on a one man altruistic mission to improve Britain's utilities. Eliminate errors, drive down costs, improve efficiencies, cut down-time; compete globally, bring wealth to the country, bolster tax revenue and simultaneously reduce tax rates whilst increasing spend on social necessities.
The parable of the talents is one of the strangest biblical parables. It seems Jesus is a Gordon Gekko capitalist - 'Greed is good, greed works, greed clarifies!' A little bit like the Samaritan quote that got Thatcher in so much trouble in the 80's (wrongly).
Driving costs down is a moral mission, brothers and sisters.
No, I'm not pissed.**
* NMFP - One of my favourite Malcolm Tucker-isms - Not My Fucking Problem
*** The Visible Slap - The Invisible Hand!!! Geddit? I do stand up too.
Over the course of my working life I've had many jobs. Let me list a few:-
- Corporate Real Estate Portfolio Manager
- Boss's bitch
- Paper Boy
- Customer Service Rep
- Parliamentary aide
One of those may be made up...
But customer service rep... Customer is always right. You never win an argument with a customer. You love a complaint as it allows you to turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer. Blah. Blah. Been there, got the T-Shirt. I remember manning the phones for American Express in my early 20's on a Sunday Morning with a proper hangover getting chewed out by Mr Angry demanding to speak to the CEO. "Come off it, big boy; it's just you and me. What do you want, and do you mind if I put you on hold whilst I throw up?"
Anyway, I've had the unlovely pleasure of moving recently. That entails getting wi-fi transferred. As it happens, one of my earliest blogs on this site (Jan 2015) compared the wi-fi / BT Open Reach / Sky 'not me gov' fuck up approach to Britain in the 1970's and - specifically - nationalised industries. Well - do I ever learn?
BT. Sky. Yeah, guys, between you, you fucked it up royally - again! The surprise is, er, no surprise. Four weeks notice? Days off work? Unhappy children? Missed appointments? Useless engineers? Snide customer service reps talking bollocks.? Yes, let's tick the box on all of these. Oh - and can we welcome into the building that feeling you get where the customer is just the bitch in some gay porn shower scene? I guess I dropped the soap by moving...
I foolishly invoked Sky's Customer complaints procedure today... Asked for a manager. Told them I was making a formal complaint and that they had 24 hours to respond and give up on their 'an engineer will turn up in three weeks' bullshit. And do you know what? They showed as much respect to me as the hillbilly in Deliverance shouting 'squeal piggie' whilst analising Ned Beatty. No - you can't speak to the manager. Of course not! He's too important and too busy counting his bonus. We'll respond in 56 days. Which is about the same time as it takes to get wi-fi in this country moved from one address to another. With Sky.
Why didn't the EU ever do something useful like KILL BT, for example? Open up the market and get wi-fi transferred quickly? Bring in the free market? I might have voted for them if they did (well - not really). But you know what I mean. Being without wi-fi in 2017 is like fighting the invading - and gun toting - Spaniards in South America with spears. You lose, you get humiliated.
So - Sky's customer service policy:-
"Bend over, spread yourself; its gonna hurt and you're gonna pay for it too!"
Where's the free market in all of this?
I love trolling. What's trolling? Basically the deliberate act of winding people up online via newspaper website comments boards. Getting some tedious 'the science is settled' lefty impotently raging gives me the horn.
So how does one do this successfully?
1) Pick your battle ground. Obviously The Guardian website is the gold standard of trolling. It's where virtue signalling lefties come to feel good about themselves. My role is to make them leave a little less smug, a bit more angry.
2) Never read the article you're commenting on. Let's face it, The Guardian is just rag a for journos who never grew out of sixth form 'it's not fair' agitprop. I can guess their viewpoints by the headline. The only originality is how ridiculously leftwing and authoritarian they can get. Blah blah blah. Ignore. Just fight the fanboys underneath.
3) If you have good arguments, use them. Show off. Pull apart threadbare assertions, expose ignorance, exploit contradictions. Make your arguments short, pithy and - most important - deliberately provocative. Earnest discussions are for bores. Take your point and simplify whilst amplifying. This acts like catnip to lefties; they can't resist piling onto a forbidden viewpoint. A full throated support of Trump usually works.
4) More fun - play the man, not the ball. It's so unfair and exasperating but it's guaranteed to get your target hopping mad as they fall off their high horse and scrabble around in the dirt with you.
5) Use humour. Lefties hate humour. They have this smug, condescending de haute en bas kind of sneer which - on the BBC and Channel 4 - passes as humour. Not to be mistaken for real humour. Doesn't work with a hostile audience. Drag your target from the comfort of a Radio 4 panel show circle jerk to a working men's club in Sunderland and 'did you spill my pint, mate?'
6) Create straw men and a fictitious mythology about your target. I owned one self-righteous lefty by constantly suggesting he used to work for Stephen Byers - the dreadful ex-Blairite cabinet minister (nothing more insulting to a Wurzel follower). They tried ignoring me, laughing it off, attacking me, using appeals to authority and then just outright fury. I win. You lose. Loser.
I call this strategy the 'Shakey' strategy. One ex-colleague made the mistake - just once - of coming to work wearing double denim. I made up this whole back story about how he was Shaking Stevens' biggest fan. It used to wind him up but he thought that by playing along with it, or laughing it off or ignoring it, I'd stop. Yeah, right. I'd be on a call and say "Sorry, I can't hear you as XXX is playing fucking Green Door at top blast again." From then on he was known as the Shakey guy by all. He left. We don't keep in touch.
7) Dicking about with people's online moniker's is always fun. If you can twist it to something obscene - great! If not change it to something funny. Or juvenile. Diminish your target by making them ridiculous. Although everyone pretends to be high-minded and want to follow a debate, if you change someone's moniker from 'love_Corbyn' to 'love_farmanimals' no one will take them seriously again. I win. You lose.
8) If all else fails, just go for straight out abuse. Something like 'I can hear the rustle of tin foil', 'did mummy let you use the computer again?', 'Isn't it time for your meds?', 'Shouldn't you be at school', 'Does it hurt not having a girlfriend?'... Low but effective.
9) Parroting. Just copy and paste your target's contribution but change a couple of words so the meaning is the opposite of that intended. Then end it with a jaunty - 'fixed it for you!' Keep doing it and ask them how long they've been a member of UKIP posting such right wing tosh.
10) For people who write pages of tedious shit bloviating about a subject in some lawyerly or condescending manner, just attach a comment at the bottom - like a teacher - 'Too long. Learn to be more succinct and people might read your stuff'. For the serious minded this triggers them like nothing else. You can then move to employ mockery or straw man whilst changing their moniker to something stupid or rude.
This may seem pathetic, girlfriend displacement activity but those cultural wars need to be fought. Mad ideas need to be challenged by all means necessary. Ridicule and mockery are actually serious weapons. All dictatorships hate humour. For in humour we find truth and the truth is often not spoken about whereas false narratives (like the emperor's new clothes) abound. Banned. No platformed. Fight. Fight the power.
When I pick up my guitar my fingers form themselves around the same old familiar chords and runs as I tend to return to a short list of songs time after time. I've tried over the last few years to remember new songs but I forget them after a couple of plays. Drink I guess. Age. Befuddlement. Whatever.
So what would you hear, listening in at my kitchen door?
It's Too Late - Carole King / Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell / Walk on By - Dionne Warwick /
Me & the Devil / Hoochie Coochie Man / I'm a Man
Honky Tonk Women / Country Honk / Brown Sugar / Love in Vain / Satisfaction
Proud Mary - Various / I Get A Kick out of You - Frank Sinatra / Return to Sender - Elvis Presley / Run to Him - Bobby Vee
Wake me up before you Go-go - Wham / Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi / Say Hello, Wave Goodbye - Soft Cell
As a special treat I recorded especially for this article - for you - this video of four of these songs.
So I'll start with sport because that was really important to me but it's now less significant than a trip to the barbers with a picture of paul mccartney in my hand asking if I can look like this and coming out looking like a fuzzy egg instead. sport was really big with me in the 70's and the 80's when it all seemed to matter and things and life were more real and went onto to become memories and not regrets or worse nothing. i supported liverpool from bob paisley's time - keegan, clemence, case, hughes, heighway - you'll never walk alone - but had a season ticket at man city in the year they bought Trevor Francis for over a million, you know a couple of years after cloughie paid a million and forest went onto win the European cup. euro success was sort of relay race in those days as Liverpool forest villa swapped who was the boss club which reminds me that Liverpool won the European cup in rome in '77 against Borussia Mönchengladbach with nine english players, one irish, one welsh. the players in those days came from the cities around the ground and cared about the club weren't removed in big houses in cheshire with agents and hangers on and wags and spit roasts but seemed decent blokes you'd meet down the pub and watch a game with*. rip brian greenhoff. yes I used to care but now i don't. and then ovett coe and then ovett coe and cram and don't forget peter elliott tough of the track yorkshire man who made it hurt for the others and had more balls than any runner i've ever known except kris akabusi who went toe to toe with the american individual gold medal holder on the last leg of the 400m and beat him. kinda did that phil brown thing and BTW there's a phil brown road around here in an estate off wandsworth road. but ovett and coe were the class in a glass trading world records and gold medals other countries' runners were just filling up the quotas in their races. but that's all gone now and i hate athletics as all doped up cheats and i hate football as all overpaid mercenaries falling in the penalty area and what would tommy smith or ian gow have made of these ballet dancers - ripped them off at the knees and taken the red like a man throwing their shirt on the pitch in disgust and served their three match ban like men whilst worshipped by the terraces and winked at by the manager who probably graduated through the ranks themselves. yes terraces all gone now after bradford after hesel not the fault of the fans the fault of the greedy clubs who take the money and despise the fans the passion the loyalty. doesn't matter now all about tv revenues and far east shirt sales and marketing rights and buying players abroad rather than give kids here a chance and nurture talent. greedy bastards. so i no longer care about sport not about football not about cricket hate rugby athletics golf and in fact any fucking sport sorry sorry but i find it all rather pointless and contrived. i'm aware that somewhere something is missing and that some moments stick in my head that make me cry and make me yearn for those days when the cop ruled and when we had the best runners but do you know what i don't miss sport i don't have the time for sport and i don't have the energy for sport and so sport would be the first thing i no longer give a fuck about...
But if I ever met Steve Ovett. Or Seb Coe. Or Steve Heighway. Kevin Keegan. Ray Kennedy. Iain Rush. Phil Neal.
Brian Greenhoff used to drink in the bar where I worked. Always down to earth, good to chat with never gave it the I'm a star treatment. He was a man who liked his drink, his fags and had some good stories to tell. RIP Brian - there's some great Youtube moments out there.
One of my date destroying, oh is that the time, passions is urban architecture and how cities change over time.
Take a large corporate plc with many employees. Staff come and staff go. There is no such thing as ‘the staff’ over any period of time. There can only ever be a snapshot of employees at any given moment.
As Pocahontas said – I paraphrase – you never can put your hand in the same river, it is always flowing, always different. *
It is the same with urban architecture. Cities constantly change and the only thing that tricks us into thinking they do not is that bricks and mortar typically change more slowly than humans (or rivers) and so we don’t see it.
When I was eleven, I used to walk through a housing estate on my way to school. Every day I would pass a house - a house where a rather large extension was being built. Day after day, I would trudge past with my briefcase and French horn and for a few months, this state of incompleteness was my experience of this house and this journey. Now, of course, the extension has been built for thirty odd years and has taken on a look of permanence. But I remember a time when it wasn’t there and a time when it was incomplete. My ‘snapshot’ is different to most.
Stuff in transition is more interesting than in a resting state.
Old pictures of Rochdale, Brighton or London, for example, excite my interest. I found a picture once of the Houses of Parliament being built in the 1850’s with Big Ben only partially constructed. How the Londoners must have marvelled and how that incomplete tower must have been their reality for months, if not years. History literally in the making.
So urban architecture in transition is always of interest to me and if I see something being built or changed I try to snap a picture and record that moment of transition between one solid state and another. Capture the ephemeral nature of the built environment.
Unsurprisingly given the above, I did a master’s degree in portfolio management in the 90’s and, as part of it, authored many theoretical projects to develop the South London and Brighton built environment. This was an interesting period – right after the property crash of the early 90’s – and there were many underused or derelict sites lying undeveloped, in places we would now see as property hotspots.
I especially remember the site at the bottom of Edward Street opposite The Royal Pavilion in Brighton. It had been a derelict shell for years and was being used as a temporary car park. My limited proposal was to build a hall of residence for the polytechnic (Brighton University now) as you couldn’t give away flats or office space in those days. But what’s most interesting now to remember, is that this site – right in the heart of historic Brighton – lay abandoned for years. It’s hard to imagine now, but cities ebb and flow with the years; we, who live in them, just don’t recognise this.
An interesting aside to this period in my life was that I was in charge of real estate for American Express Corporate Travel - the division with the largest portfolio of space in the UK. When the lease of the HQ building in the Haymarket ran out, I was tasked with acquiring the replacement. I found it the time-honoured way by walking around the then unfashionable district of Southwark - south of Blackfriars Bridge. This was the real old London experience where you could still imagine the Ripper stalking through the narrow streets of tall warehouses, wielding his knife on unsuspecting late night revellers.
I acquired a building on Blackfriars Road that was – in Amex terms – incredibly cheap. At that point the Jubilee Line extension hadn’t been completed and Southwark tube station – just yards from my building – wasn’t yet complete, let alone open. Today the area, with great tube links, is a thriving commercial part of London but when I was in the market, it was a backwater, and - as some eminent real estate professor at my university told me - like the perennial late night black cab driver - no-one wants to go South of the River!
Walking past ‘my’ building these days, I experience several emotions. Firstly, pride in my accomplishment, of course. Then, reflections about how this decision influenced hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. People met people, people left people, new jobs, new connections. Oh, the power! Yes, the beginnings of my nascent God complex…
But what strikes me now - as I walk around - is the contrast with my first impressions of this central London area, next to the Thames, that – 20 years ago - had no tube, no intrusive glass towers and no high rise and unoccupied apartment blocks. No wanky baristas in small batch coffee shops. Back then, the area was covered with post-war Corbusier-inspired brutalism, but also, some rather marvellous backstreet pubs filled with growling cockneys and cigarette smoke. All gone now.
It’s not just buildings that change the character of cities!
In that period – mid 90’s - I couldn’t give away office space in Argyll Street or New Bond Street. Can you imagine that? I’d go up from Brighton to meet the agents – in Brook Street no doubt - who’d tell me how my space, right opposite the Argyll Theatre, amongst all the high-end fashion shops, was difficult to shift.*** That I’d have to lower the price and give rent free periods. Them was different days! This was before the internet really got going and everyone became their own start-up.
Property – in particular commercial property – exists in periods of feast or famine. Under supply and over demand lead to oversupply and under demand. And the cycle repeats itself. It’s like some visible manifestation of capitalism.
Here in Clapham I walk the same route up and down Lavender Hill / Wandsworth Road twice a day. I get to see the urban environment incrementally change. Scaffolding erected, demolitions, gangs of labourers, white vans. For instance, the nearly complete new Premier Inn off Cedars Road. The whole of the last year this old temple / church has been patiently restored and extended. Even the derelict Victoria pub next door has been spruced up for a new leasee. It looks good. **
And the point? For me, it’s stories, it’s backdrop. Someone once said that it’s almost impossible to write a history of an event because history is not neatly divided. There’s always a back story and there’s always consequences afterwards. The same applies with the built environment. And so it reveals to me stories. Streets challenge complacency, they show progress (or regression). But the urban environment is never still, never complete.
By this time, my date has left and I’m left with the bottle and the sock. T’was ever thus.
* The wisdom of Disney. I use the best and I use the rest.
Close your eyes. Picture this…
Tim arrives for a date. (Girls; linger on this image for a while. Take your time. Go on - indulge yourselves. You’re worth it!)
So, I’m showered and smelling of - I dunno - David Beckham deodorant and Obsession. Wearing jeans and jacket. Smart shoes. You lucky girl whoever you are! We do the get-a-drink thing and sit down. We talk about our day, how we got here, some random observations about the bar we're in (for it will be a bar). And then. And then.
Well apparently, there's websites out there that supply approved first date questions. If you run dry of conversation, you're supposed to throw one of these into your date to get things going. For example: -
· Who is the biggest influence on your life?
· What was your favourite movie / song of all time?
· Who is your best friend and why?
· What were you like growing up?
· What's your goal in life right now?*
· What's your bucket list of places to go to?
· Blah - fucking - blah
It's rehearsed spontaneity, the wisdom of a parrot, the 'I'm mad me' humour of the unfunny. In other words, nothing - nothing would turn me off more than some lady asking me to discuss the greatest influence on my life. **
Of course, I accept that someone who reeled off some bollox question has probably put some thought into our date which in itself is charming. Or an indication that she goes on a lot of dates and is on auto-pilot. Or boring.
The point stands for blokes though too. Boring bastards with no wit but tall enough to get some girl to agree to a date. If you then rely on pre-scripted bon mots, well I’d have to put you to the sword like Stilicho in Ravenna. No mercy ladies.
This somewhat reminds me of the ‘Chechnya’ scene in Brigitte Jones where Brigitte – in order to impress upon Hugh Grant her seriousness – intones ‘But what about Chechnya’ and he responds ‘I couldn’t give a fuck’ and asks her to talk about her lesbian experiences (or just make shit up).
And the purpose of this curmudgeonly ramble? Advice to a perspective girlfriend? Advice to nervous dates that they just be themselves and let the god of wine be your guide? Perhaps, snidey bitching from life’s sidelines? Yeah, that’ll be it.
So, let me leave you with some real advice:-
No-one regrets what they did. They regret what they didn’t.
*Seriously – what’s my goal right now? On a date? Er, let’s think… Ooh, it’s on the tip of my tongue (like you will be in half an hour).
Was that crude? I apologise. But weakly.
** The greatest influence on my life? I would, of course, answer ‘drink’. I mean, like, doh! Exit pursued by a bear.
*** The Monday night find a husband / running club is humongous tonight. Lots of ladies. They completely outnumber the nerds trying to (get laid) get fit. If I wasn’t double their age, I’d seriously consider donning the lycra myself.
And Theodosius II? Well, he was ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire in the early 5th Century. When asked about what qualities he wanted in his future wife, he replied, "Well as long as she's good to look at." And so, that's what he got, a good-looking wife. A simple story but effectively rendered, I feel.
Are there more lesbians these days or is it just my fevered imagination?
Maybe it's where I go (Brighton / Battersea). Or maybe it's my rugged good looks attracting the waverers. Or maybe it's more socially acceptable in 2017. Who knows.
But this march of the sisters doesn't upset me. Well, apart from one thing...
Three times in the last month, sat at my table, tapping away, looking both authorial and yet approachable, I've been smiled at by single attractive women. Now, being eyed up by women is pretty usual for me - I am a basic pleasure model after all - but even-so, their interest tweaked my own. Maybe, smile back? Offer a drink? I'm a machine; turn me on and I deliver results.*
And then. And then their girlfriend turns up and they start to kiss. And not in a peck on the cheek kinda way. Tongues involved. One particularly attractive couple of ladies next to me on the train a couple of months ago were snogging and feeling each other up all the way from East Croydon to Burgess Hill. It was like I'd stepped into some porno movie. But with no part for me. I mulled about this - overly long - when I got home. Too long.
Okay, so maybe I view all of human life through the lens of my own single status (why not?) but it's a cruel trick ladies. A cruel trick I fall for time and again. Which means I'm increasingly getting paranoid, afraid of hitting on a lesbian by mistake. I respect people's lifestyle. So now, I don't do anything. I look away when a single, attractive girl smiles at me. Read more Roman history.
Yeah. That would it Tim. Lesbians. Why you're single. Yeah.
* The bullshit is strong in this one tonight.