Friday, 7 December 2018
I was very saddened to hear last night of the passing of Pete Shelley, the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of Buzzcocks. Shelley was one of the great pop songwriters of his time - the urgent, scratchy, punky sound of Buzzcocks never overshadowing his alternately heartfelt and ironic songs of teenage love and angst.
I only saw the band play live three times over the years but each gig was memorable and a lot of fun. I first saw them when they'd only recently reformed back in 1993 at the long-gone Northwick Theatre in Worcester, then at the Stroud Subscription Rooms in 2016 ( above ) and at Bath's Komedia earlier this year.
Each gig demonstrated Buzzcocks' mastery of deceptively simple, catchy, joyous pop-punk anthems, crafted with love, anger and often just a little knowing campness. At the heart of this was Pete Shelley, a pop poet with a wry take on love, life and relationships. There really aren't many like him left...
RIP Pete and thanks for all the wonderful songs
Peter Campbell McNeish ( aka Pete Shelley ) 17th April 1955 - 6th December 2018
Monday, 19 November 2018
Back to my favourite music venue for the first time in far too long to experience the dance / rock loopiness of Black Grape. I'd never seen the boys from the Grape before but had hugely enjoyed seeing Shaun Ryder's "other" band, The Happy Mondays, a couple of years ago. My good friend Glenn ( Borrowed Time superstar ) kindly gave me a lift into G-Town ( as I believe the youngsters call it ) and we found ourselves in a strangely half-empty Guildhall. The underwhelming support set by a clearly phoning-it-in DJ didn't help.
About ten minutes before the band were due to come on there was a last minute surge and the hall became about 3/4 full. Shaun, Kermit and the band ambled out onto the stage and the party started with In The Name Of The Father ( "and the Holy f###ing Spirit, amen" ) and a couple of new songs from their recent album, Pop Voodoo. Shaun wasn't quite sure where he was at the start: there was some debate as to whether Gloucester was in the North ( er, no... ) or the West. They decided we were honourary Northerners and played ( of course ) A Big Day In The North. Kermit then went on to chat about what he called the "noble art of shop-lifting" and to bemoan the fact that not enough people do that any more...
Kermit and Shaun are a great double-act, constantly taking the piss out of each other and generally acting like a couple of naughty, overgrown schoolboys. Many songs were preceded by autobiographical facts such as "We wrote this song while smoking crack in a cupboard in LA" and debates about whether Shaun should take off his puffer-jacket or not. ( I was melting from the heat in my T-shirt so God only knows how he felt! ) Luckily, the music was as as hot as the atmosphere - the new songs went down well and the crowd went mad ( well, mad for a Gloucester audience ) to such groovy classics as Reverend Black Grape, Tramazi Parti and the peerless Kelly's Heroes. Glenn and I had a pretty good spot down the front so had a great view of the action and had our ears blasted by the sound - I think the ringing has just stopped after about three days!
Finishing with a funktastic Shake Well Before Opening and a titanic encore of Little Bob ( "Boooom! Bang!" ), the two front-men left the stage, whilst the band played some outrageously over the top heavy rock, with the guitarist hanging over the crowd-barrier, much to the disgust of the glaring security men.
A fun gig then, although I'd like to see them with a slightly more engaged audience. Black Grape are touring well into next year so we may do it all again somewhere else...
Monday, 12 November 2018
As you probably know, Stan "The Man" Lee, aka Stanley Martin Lieber, has sadly passed away at the great age of 95. Stan was of course the prime mover behind the Marvel Age of Comics and had a huge impact on my life ( and millions of others ) with his story-telling, editing and publishing skills.
I really need to get my head around this before I can write a proper post but, for now, let me just say:
"Thank you Stan for all the years of wonderful stories and characters. Excelsior!"
( to be continued... )
Stanley Martin Lieber, 28th December 1922 - 12th November 2018
Sunday, 11 November 2018
Today was, of course, Armistice Day - the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, and also a time to remember all wars and conflicts, and the men and women ( and animals ) who served... those who came back and those who didn't.
This morning Sarah, James and I went to a service at Gloucester's war memorial, where hundreds turned out to mark this solemn and momentous occasion. Although the weather was showery it managed to stay dry for the service and the sun even shone while the Lord's Prayer was being read and the two minute's silence was observed. After the service the assembled service men and women marched through the centre of the City...
Although I don't have any direct connection with the forces, I was thinking today of my grandfather, Private Harry Reginald Barton, who fought in the First World War. Harry was a farmer's boy who joined the Gloucester Regiment ( the "Glorious Glosters" ) at the age of 19 ( James' age! ) and was wounded in the leg while in service. I never knew him - he died in 1960, six years before I was born - and know very little of his time during the War, but I often think of what it must have been like for such a young man in that terrible, terrible conflict. Today we can only imagine the horrors those ( mostly ) young people suffered... but we must always remember...
In the early evening we went to the nearby village of Slimbridge to see a remarkable art installation by local sculptor, Jackie Lantelli. She's fashioned life-size figures of soldiers out of wire and placed them in Slimbridge churchyard. Each of these "ghost soldiers" stands before a gravestone or plaque remembering those of the parish who gave their lives in conflicts, most in WWI.
This was a beautiful tribute to the fallen and was incredibly moving.
"Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."
Wednesday, 7 November 2018
...or Ten Years On The Blog...
Holy Guacamole! It's hard to believe I've been ( sort of ) working on this 'ere blog for a whole ten years. Well, I say "hard to believe" but when I actually look back at my various, random drivellings over the years, it does kind of hit me how long it's been since that first rookie post...
At the start I wasn't quite sure what I was doing ( as in life, so in blogging ), treating the blog as a kind of journal and even worrying when I wasn't posting regularly. Imagine that! Over the years my output here has sloooooowed down to a kind of backwards crawl but I still enjoy doing it when the mood takes me. I did say to James the other day that maybe I should call a halt to TGW-S after this 10th anniversary post but he convinced me to keep on keepin' on. If anything, it's a good exercise in keeping the old grey matter ticking over, probably needed more than ever now I'm in my fifties - I was only 41 when I started the blog! A spring chicken! A youngster...
Although not as young as in the photo above. This is me and my much-missed dog Buxton ( aka Buck, aka Bucko, aka "where's that bloody dog gone this time" etc. ), some time in the late 1980s. I know you're more used to cat photos here, Dear Hypothetical Reader, but as I'm getting all nostalgic today I thought it would be good to give a canine the spotlight for a change.
( I am kind of hopping around from one subject to another here, but stick with it, I'll only have this tenth anniversary the one time. Can't imagine I'll be doing this in another 10 years. Or will I?... )
Anyway, back to the history of the blog ( Don't you find it fascinating? Hello? Anyone? ) - I began to suss out the things I enjoyed writing about - movies, music, Doctor Who, comics, all that stuff, with the occasional post about things my family and I were up to in the real world. I particularly enjoyed writing some semi-regular series of posts like Favourite Gig Fridays and Steranko Saturdays which gave the blog some kind of structure and also gave me deadlines, without which I'm pretty useless.
Of course, one of the greatest joys of blogging has been talking to fellow, like-minded ( or not ) bloggers, reading their often far superior posts and generally feeling like part of a community. That feeling has sadly waned over the years as so many blogs and bloggers have fallen by the wayside. Some retired from the scene and happily gave their friends and Followers a chance to say au revoir, some just disappeared from the Blogosphere without warning. I have to admit I really miss some of those guys... so, if any of the following are still out there, why not leave a comment?
Mickey Glitter, Wiec?, The Igloo Keeper, Momo, Richard Bensam, Mandra - it would be great to hear from you.
Luckily, there are still the faithful few ( and I do mean "few"! ) who still drop by, so here's a big TGW-S THANK YOU to anyone who finds themselves reading this drivel when they should really be doing something less boring instead. You know who you are...
( No, not those two, obviously... but some lovely people who are almost as cool... )
Oh, you want me to name names? Alrighty then. Many thanks to these wonderful folks for supporting this 'ere blog over the years: Tom Wiggins, Joe Bloke, Pete Doree, Steve W, Kid Robson, MD Jackson, Karen 'n' Doug, The Groovy Agent, John Pitt, Joanne Casey, Paul McScotty, Matthew Killorin...
and, of course, my Canadian brother from another mother, the mighty Calvin Heighton!
Aaand that's enough back-slapping for now. I wouldn't want anyone to get big-headed. So, while I start to think about what the hell I'm going to do with this blog after this millstone ( er, "milestone" ) ( answers on a postcard? ) I'll leave you with some random pics from the Visual Vaults of The Glass Walking-Stick.
Peace and Love - cerebus660 ( Simon )
Tuesday, 6 November 2018
As is often the case, I've lagged behind in my Doctor Who reviews ( and the series has only been on for 5 weeks! Must try harder ) so here are some brief thoughts on the last three episodes...
An emotionally involving and beautifully shot, if somewhat preachy, episode, dealing with Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Vinette Robinson is outstanding as Rosa, all dignity and quiet courage, while the regulars have some lovely character moments, with Bradley Walsh as the grieving widower forced into an uncomfortable role in American history, and Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole playing two modern young people seeing how hard life was under segregation for those affected. The biggest downfall is the vanilla villain, a Joey Essex-lookalike racist from the future, whose evil scheme involving bus timetables may be appropriately tasteful for the subject matter but is often quite dull.
Three And A Half Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Crumpled Bus Tickets )
A fun, monster-filled episode which will probably be as well-remembered by today's kids ( The One With The Giant Spiders ) as a certain Pertwee story is with my generation ( The One With The Giant Maggots ). Not breaking any new ground but a definite watch-through-the fingers story for arachnophobes with some great effects / model work, sly digs at modern US politics and, yes,
( finally! ) some back story for Yaz. ( And I didn't even do the "anoraknophobia" joke! )
Four Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Giant, Human-sized Cocoons )
The Tsuranga Conundrum
Not an easy title to pronounce, not an easy episode to love. The Doctor and her friends find themselves close to death but rescued by friendly aliens ( yep, we've already seen this in The Ghost Monument ) and then the story becomes a very flat, exposition-stuffed hybrid of Alien / Gremlins / Holby City. The guest cast are mostly uninteresting although we're clearly supposed to Care Deeply for them, while the cute little
I'll have to re-watch this episode to see how it stands up but, after one viewing, I'll give this story:
A disappointing Two Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers or... sorry, I've got nothing here...