Sunday, 23 December 2012

BOUND FOR "THE ARSE-END OF THE WORLD"


Farewell to Old England forever
Farewell to my old pals as well
Farewell to the well known Old Bailee
Where I once used to be such a swell
Where I once used to be such a swell.
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.
There's the captain as is our commandeer,
There's bo'sun and all the ship's crew
There's first and the second class passengers,
Knows what we poor convicts goes through
Knows what we poor convicts goes through.
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.
'Taint leaving Old England we cares about,
'Taint 'cos we mispells wot we knows
But becos all we light finger'd gentry
Hop's around with a log on our toes.
Hop's around with a log on our toes.
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.
Oh had I the wings of a turtle-dove,
I'd soar on my pinions so high,
Slap bang to the arms of my Polly love,
And in her sweet presence I'd die
And in her sweet presence I'd die.
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.
Now all my young Dookies and Duchesses,
Take warning from what I've to say,
Mind all is your own as you touch-es-es,
Or you'll find us in Botany Bay,
Or you'll find us in Botany Bay.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

POLPO..SOHO...UH HUH...OH YEAH

 
A time honoured, old faithful London wheeze has always been to Wander Down Olde Soho Towne on a weeknight and get metaphorically battered (...and on this night...literally) with your supercool mates. Theres always a white haawwt no-reservation speakeasy or charcuterie bar just opened, more than likely rocking a postindustrialvintagehipsterchic vibe and the ubiquitous moody lighting.
 
I love the Venetian bacaro Polpo on Beak St, tucked away in the same rickety building in which Venetian painter Canaletto used to reside. Get in! It ain't no Colony Club but its the next best thing.
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

COCAINE KATE

Hot Dang!!! Got about a hundred posts to catch up on before my imminent departure from this green and pleasant land. Lets start with Miss Moss...disdainfully referred to as Kate Moist by the Highgate intelligentsia who suspect she lowers the tone - having the gall to impose her sordid rock n roll presence on one Samuel Taylor Coleridge's rickety old mansion.

I was first seduced by Miss Moss's entrancing features via Corinne Day's low-fi fashion photography in a 1990 issue of seminal style publication The Face. The cut glass cheekbones, dreamy wide-set eyes, pneumatic poutastic lips exposing a wonky vampire grin and heroin chic styling were a revelation after the boring glamorous razzamattazz perfection of the '80s. 

Corinne Day's photographic style helped put La Moss on the map and signalled the beginnings of what would evolve into the riotous epoch known as Cool Britannia, soundtracked by Britpop, diseased by Tony Blair. These images appeared last year in a small show at Mayfair's Gimpel Fils Gallery celebrating Day's iconic and innovative photographic style. Day sadly died of a brain tumour aged 48.

 
 
The later images of old Mossy were honest and brave, graphically depicting a real woman looking every one of her 38 years. These enormous close-up shots were especially notable in our image-obsessed world, increasingly relying on the artificiality of Photoshop to make YOU feel insecure so you will BUY MORE SHIT. Don't believe the bullshit peeps. Even Kate Moist has crows feet. And don't they look charming.  
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

OXFORD

Montague Withnail: Laissez-moi respirer longtemps, longtemps, l'odeur de tes cheveux!
Ahhh, Baudelaire. Brings back such memories of Oxford! Ooohh, Oxford!!

I: [Voice-over] Followed by yet another anecdote about his sensitive crimes in a punt with a chap called Norman, who had red hair and a book of poetry stained with the butter drips from crumpets.


So much mythology surrounds Oxford, from the whimsical mutterings of Montague Withnail to Evelyn Waugh's glorious betwixt-the-wars tome Brideshead Revisited. Battling my way this summer through the multitude of international students and goggle-eyed tourists, I was lucky enough to spend one (admittedly draughty) night in the halls of the impressive Magdalen College (above).

Magdalen remains one of the wealthiest and most traditional of Oxford colleges, where black tie is still worn in the great hall for dinner and each student retains the services of their own personal tutor for the duration of their scholarship. Alumni includes the likes of Oscar Wilde and Louis Theroux as well as the doppelganger of *a certain notorious child killer who shall remain namelss for fear of a defamation suit* (just Google it, he looks exactly like him) and equally evil current Tory Chancellor George Osborne. Just jokes Georgie, old chap. No need to sue, I'm afraid I've not got thruppence to spare what with all your austerity measures, you privileged ponce.

George....love's young dream?


The perfectly manicured quadrangles of Magdalen college were spectacular, as was the ancient stone architecture punctuated by medieval gargoyles and decaying golden archways (below). The easel randomly perched among the shadows seemed to just appear oasis-like in the middle of a production designer's wet dream. Whatsmore, the fine high-ceilinged room I kipped in (where students of Osborne and Wilde's ilk presumably 'slummed it') was at least four times the square footage of my entire London flat. Oh George! Why has thou forsaken me?




The infamous open-topped tourist buses pootle about Oxford's impressive town centre, the great unwashed masses admiring all the history, tradition and privilege they could never experience on a ticket they can barely afford. Not that we're bitter George.

The sweetest irony of all had to be seeing these right-on political posters (below) once so integral to the student experience in that antiquated pre-social networking fairytale world of yore. Presumably its all Tory Totty facebook groups these days, along with Spencer and Charles' real-time mad ketamine bender tweets. I mean...Marxism 2012!! George must really be tittering about that one.       






Wednesday, 26 September 2012

THERES NAE ROLLS...IN BURNISTOUN

Th' final series ay hysterics-inducin' buckin' stoat Glaswegian comedy program Burnistoun cam tae a sad end lest week. Th' genius 'at is th' Rabbie Florence an' Iain Connell partnership has gain it oan a high, thes bein' th' final series ay th' shaw. Fin' a mucker whose willing tae nip one  aff fur ye an' watch these clips!



Saturday, 22 September 2012

PETER GABRIEL

 
 
 'So' is still a great album. I love these pictures from his tender misspent youth. He originally wanted Dolly Parton to do vocals on Don't Give Up. Luckily he wasn't famous enough for her to agree. If he wasn't such a well behaved public school boy to leave Genesis to look after his wife and baby we would never have heard the genius that is baldie tax exile power drummer Phil Collins rockin' the mic. You can't hurry love Phil. But you can fax the divorce papers.

Monday, 27 August 2012

FELL ASLEEP ON THE TRAIN, WOUND UP IN BLOODY NEASDEN


 
Being a certified (and certifiable) anglophile, Pete Townshend's magnum opus Quadrophenia is one of my favourite films. I was excited to discover the actual greasy spoon featured in the film where mod anti-hero Jimmy eats with his rockabilly nemesis played by the one and only Ray Winstone was only a short walk across Murder Park from my 'big, brilliantly candyass' west London office.
 
So I retired to A. Cooke's famous Pie n Mash Caff on the Goldhawk Road in Shepherd's Bush one rainy afternoon with my assistant (he of the 'Buff Ting' fame) to sample their wares and lounge resplendent in some proper filmic history. Check out my homeboy posing below. I made him do it. You can tell by his pathetically insincere smile.
 
 
Anyway, said assistant (lets call him Virgil) and I sampled the classic English fayre of pie'n'mash, not a world away from that other classic English standby and my personal meal of choice, meat'n'two veg.  
 
 
Said fayre was common or garden variety caff style...a greasy, meaty confection with a perfect sphere of delicious creamy mash all drowned in watery mint sauce and accompanied by a serving a thick mushy peas. You wouldn't want to eat it every day but its just the ticket on a rainy afternoon in Shepherds Bush as you debate the pros and cons of TOWIE vs Made In Chelsea.
 
The groovy old timer sitting behind Virgil was typical of the proper salt of the earth English regulars in for their midweek scran, and the dinner ladies brooked no nonsense whatsoever at the order counter let me tell you. The cafe recently successfully fought a compulsory purchase planning application to have the premises destroyed as part of a proposed 200-flat development. Suck on that, The Man! Read more about A Cooke's noble fight against the nasty slumlords here
 
 
 
 
Just look at Virgil wishing he was anywhere but here, being made to pose like a tit under threat of imminent sacking. Nice oilskin jacket Virgil, ebay's finest, natch. 
 
 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

BATTLE



The final destination in my triumvirate of delightful East Sussexness was the quaint village of Battle, hometown of my longtime musical love Keane. Fans will of course recognise the above lanes name checked on Strangeland, the album Mr Tim Rice-Oxley titled after reading Tracey Emin's biography of the same name detailing her formative years growing up in the decaying seaside town of Margate. Word around the campfire suggests Mr Rice-Oxley senior was the local doctor in the village of Battle, now retired and no doubt living in English countryside splendour.
 
Battle itself was a stereotypically lovely English village, lined with pretty shops, friendly local people and idiosyncratic little scarecrow-installations celebrating British Olympic pride along the high street (below). When the sunny days seem to last forever in the summertime, a place like Battle, surrounded by incredible ancient architecture and the beautiful rolling hills of the South Downs really is one of the most idyllic places on earth. Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling and Jane Austen to name a few have all resided in or written of the area's intoxicating ambience.
 
 
 
 
 
The main attraction in Battle and the village's namesake is of course it's famous 1066 battle grounds. Duke William of Normandy came, saw and conquered King Harold's English army on 14th October 1066 on these grounds, the Anglo-Saxons already spent, though victorious after defeating the Norwegian Viking invaders oop north near York.
 
Wandering the fertile green battle fields, soundtracked by an audio guide I would normally forego, I became utterly entranced by the emotive tales of the gargantuan clash between the Norman and Anglo Saxon armies. After several hours of intensive battle axe, crossbow, chainmail and shield combat in which Harold's army had initially maintained the upper hand with their shield wall, William eventually emerged the victor, Harold reputedly being felled by an arrow to the eye. What truly struck me as amazing was the fact that the actual sovereigns themselves were on the ground fighting - engaged in a physical battle which could only end in the actual death of both themselves and their empires. Call me historically naive but I can't imagine Prince Charles doing the same.  
 
 
 
The wonderful Battle Abbey (below) dominates the village, built by William of Normandy as penance for the wanton destruction his army waged on the battlefield. Its ancient relics have historically constituted both monastic buildings and private residences and Keane played a few of their nostalgic East Sussex tunes from Strangeland in the abbey which you can see here.
 
 
 
 
No jaunt to a village like Battle would be complete without a visit to the local tea rooms and The Pilgrim's Rest opposite the Abbey did not disappoint. Housed in a Grade II listed building, the restaurant encapsulated the typical English tea room experience, with ancient, rural timber architecture, an enormous central fireplace and beautiful historic fittings and furniture. The bespoke ice cream parlour in a rickety back room proved a real treat in the languid afternoon haze, as did the atmospheric front garden, overflowing with fragrant English roses and large succulent bumble bees. As the saying goes with heroin, if the lord made anything greater, he kept it for himself.  
 



Tuesday, 24 July 2012

BEAUTIFUL, BORING BEXHILL


Just west from Hastings, past verdant, rolling farm land and pastel beach huts along pebbled English Channel shores lies the sleepy seaside resort of Bexhill. It ain't half sleepy Mum, to say the least. Positively geriatric to be honest, but I mean that in the nicest possible way...in fact the town is renowned as a lovely place in which our unappreciated forebears can see out their autumn years in peace.


There was something almost creepy in the air down in Bexhill, no doubt encouraged by the bruised skies littered with menacing clouds. It is a lovely, lovely place to photograph however, its desolate stillness an art director's dream.

I can't deny my pilgrimage to Bexhill was in part based on seeking out the dreamy East Sussex places mythologised on Keane's Strangeland album. The 1935 De La Warr Pavilion (above) features in the record's art work, and the Sovereign Light Cafe, pictured below is the title of the album's lead single. Incredible how a number 1 album can be inspired from such seemingly dreary landscapes. Steven Patrick Morrissey said it best when it comes to evoking the essential Britishness of these desolate seafront views. Everyday is like Sunday. Everyday is silent and grey...sing it!