Wouldn’t it be Lug-holey

Oh dear.  Judging by this, I wasn’t much of a royalist in 1981.

I’m not sure why, but a ‘My Fair Lady’ theme took hold when I drew this, which is why Charles is singing ‘Get me to the church on time’ and Diana is replying with an unfunny reference to lug-holes.

Neither am I sure why I gave Diana this odd shape of Barbie-like proportions, nor Charles these appalling teeth.

I’m mildly proud in hindsight that the drawings pre-date TFI Friday’s ‘Massive Heeds’ by at least 15 years, but I’m also pretty sure there’s actually no connection between former and latter.

With apologies to the subjects and to Alan Jay Lerner.

Time Machine

Adiemus Revisited

Having beaten myself up for my previous ‘translation’ of Adiemus being a little high-flown, I’ve created a more down-to-earth version, albeit no less dodgy than the last.

This one is more based on what the original lyrics suggested to me phonetically rather than linguistically, and has automatically set itself in a bus/rail terminus.  Enjoy!

Hurry up – give us a coffee!

Hurry up – give it us, yeah?

Hurry up, make a coffee.  Been a tough day.

The bus will take you away (x2)

The bus will take you away, you and your coffee.

Off my patch, chill – hey – our way!

Off my patch, chill – rah!

Off my patch, chill – a railway – hark, a lark! (x3)

Aye!  Do I heck?! (x2)

Aye!  (The idea started to break down somewhat at this point.)

I just need to explain the ‘Off my patch’ phrase; this came from the words ‘Ana-mana’ from the original lyrics.  ‘Ana’ (‘away from’ according to my Greek ‘O’ Level) and ‘mana’ as a homophone for ‘manor’, when glued together, equate to ‘Off my patch.’

They do, really.

Culture Bunker, Music, Word-hoard

Adiemus – An Imaginary Translation (with apologies to Karl Jenkins)

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’
(Lewis Carroll: Through The Looking Glass (And What Alice Found There)

Lyrics can be tough to memorise when you need to.  And that’s just when the lyrics have meaning in a language you understand.

But some songs have words that intentionally have no meaning.  Take Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus for example.  Lovely.  I’ve been learning it as part of a choir, and although there aren’t a lot of lyrics, I’ve been finding it harder than usual to get them lodged in my brain (and I keep having to look down at my songsheet).

I think part of the reason for this is, although the words are deliberately beautiful, because they don’t signify anything there’s no story for me to latch on to.

So I created one, with some dusty language ‘O’ Levels to (mis)guide me.

Sadly, if I typed the full lyrics to Adiemus here that would be naughty.  However, I can share some examples.  For instance, the first line:

Aria-di-amus la-te

suggested to me: “We’ve been given a song, in secret”, and a couple of lines on:

Aria-natus la-te a-dua

came out as: “For a song to be born in secret is jolly hard work.”

So here follows my totally spurious translation of Adiemus, with my apologies to its composer:

We’ve been given a song, in secret.
We have been given a song, oh yes.
For a song to be born in secret is jolly hard work.

To plant an altar, you go away. (x2)
To plant an altar, you go away.  Hide yourself.

Off my patch!  Chill, sun-god! (x2)
Off my patch!  Chill, sun-god!  Lone wolf? (x3)
(A sign of a dove, oh yes!)
Off my patch!  Chill, sun-god!  Lone wolf?
A sign – do, oh yes! (x2)

A sign of a dove, oh yes! (x9)

Which all makes about as much sense as most of the Eurovision lyrics last weekend (especially that one about the trumpet).

Daft as this sounds, having this internal dialogue going on has helped me to remember the words, which was, after all, the name of the game.  Hopefully I’ll be able to relinquish my pretend translation soon, and the syllables will become automatic to me.  Failing that, I could be thrown out for singing the words in my head and not the ones in front of me…

Dedicated to anyone who’s ever had to learn Adiemus 🙂

Culture Bunker, Music, Word-hoard

Underwater Earworms ooooooO

Bids for fitness have their price.

Plodding (‘ploughing’ seemed too athletic) up and down the local pool, I find I’m either at the mercy of my own thoughts, or an earworm pops up to fill the considerable space.

It’s always been this way.

When I was primary school age (and did a lot of swim training) I don’t believe the phenomenon had been christened ‘earworm’, but I had them just the same.  Then, my underwater earworms tended to be taken from something conspicuously successful and receiving wall-to-wall airplay such as ABBA, Boney M or something from Grease.  Alternatively, and rather oddly, the earworm would be some of the rather repetitive piano music from my ballet lessons.

The latter have long since been given up.  I was never cut out to give Darcey Bussell a run for her money.

But the swimming and the earworms continue, and I think if you’re going to host earworms they could at least be hip ones.  Sadly, this rarely happens, which is where I now have to admit that currently… Engelbert is my earworm!

I’m trying to justify this by telling myself our bodies are naturally attuned to a 3/4 rhythm, and that anyway one day soon I will banish my earworms using an extreme blend of technology and sheer mental discipline.  But I would feel uncomfortable bribing the pool staff to allow me to use a waterproof mp3 player, and earworms seem to triumph over any attempt to suppress them.

So I’m left contemplating turning this negative into a positive, opening the world’s first underwater earworm farm, and hiring the little darlings out to fellow swimmers for entertainment.  Cheaper than an iPod.

Happy Eurovision, Everyone!

1970s, Culture Bunker, Music

Top of the Pops – once seen…

Certain characters that found their way into our living room have lodged themselves in my brain and won’t depart.  If you’re reading this and are young enough not to have seen any of the following, I urge you to look them up on YouTube.

It is to these unique individuals that I dedicate this Top 5, in time-honoured reverse order.  Gentlemen, we salute you.

5.  Rob Davis of Mud

That’s right (that’s right, that’s right, that’s right – oh, stop it), the one who often wore long dresses paired with huge earrings and looked like your auntie dolled up for a Christmas party.  Spookily, as I’m writing, Groovejet by Spiller/Sophie Ellis-Bextor has started playing on the radio, which is one of the songs Davis went on to have success with as a songwriter, along with Can’t Get You Out of My Head for Kylie.  Respect.  But not forgiven for those dresses.

4.  Den Hegarty of Darts

Darts were flipping brilliant on TOTP if you were a kid in the late 70s, because they were fun, colourful, and did jolly doo-wop songs that you could sing along and jig about to.  In the middle of all this was Den Hegarty singing the bass line, gurning into the camera like a loon, moving like a maniac and sporting some of the loudest (and yet coolest) suits on the planet.  Genius.

3.   Dave Hill of Slade

Slade reliably belted out great songs, but I always found my eye drawn to Dave and his ‘look’ du jour.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  To my mind, only Peter Gabriel (in tonsure mode) and possibly Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls (back in the day) ever sported odder interpretations of the word ‘fringe’.  He often wore costumes that looked like bits of sci-fi movie sets glued together and platform boots that would probably be banned now due to ‘elf and safety’.

2.  Zal Cleminson of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

With his pierrot make-up, and dressed like a stripy version of a harlequin, he would tilt his head towards the camera with strange mixture of sweetness and menace.  Once seen, never forgotten.

1.  Ron Mael of Sparks

Had to be.  I was seven when This Town Ain’t Big Enough… was in the Top 10 and so Mr Mael and his brother were on TOTP rather a lot, so lots of scope for inducing nightmares amongst the nation’s children.  Solitary, sinister, sedentary and strange, you couldn’t help but watch him.  His stare alone would have been disturbing enough, without the Hitler-esque moustache.

Despite all this, in later life I have learned to appreciate Sparks for their brilliant songs and humour, for the fact that they wrote a song about owning the BBC and that the news section of their website is called ‘The Daily Mael.’

1970s, Culture Bunker, Music, Time Machine

Involuntary Mashed-Up Karaoke Reflex!

I’m proposing that the above is a very real affliction, perhaps some kind of mild compulsive disorder.

Backtrack.  I used to help run a pub quiz (wistful sigh – two favourite things in combo).  Our final round of choice was the ‘Next Twenty Words Round’; we would play a fairly well-known track and stop it at a certain point.  The teams would then, you’ve guessed it, have to write down the next twenty lyrics of the song, each correct word in sequence earning a point.

In theory, a great tiebreaker.  In practice, could punters resist singing along, and continuing to sing once the music had stopped?  Of course not.  This seemed to be due to an involuntary ‘karaoke moment’, even when this could result in giving their opponents a helping hand.  (Irate teammates could always be heard ‘ssshhhhing’.)

Flash forward, and I find I’m now suffering from a ‘mashed-up’ version of the above.  It’s when there’s something about the song on the radio that leads you irresistibly into singing a different song over the top of it.

Intros are frequent culprits.  To give an example featuring two obvious bedfellows, if the intro to The Jean Genie were on, I would have to be restrained in order to stop singing the start of Blockbuster over the top of it, annoying myself and anyone around.  You can’t hurry love, Maneater and Are you gonna be my girl also suffer from being swapped about.

Some songs ask for it due to a certain pattern of notes in the melody;  for instance, in my house Oasis invariably become mashed with Manfred Mann, resulting in “So, Sally can wait – Pretty flamingo.”   The Divine Comedy also get an unlikely encounter with Anita Dobson, leaving us with “Everybody knows that I love you – that’s the easy part, you must keep it going.”  See what I mean?

So is this reflex something to be embraced, or resisted?  If the latter, what tactics could be used to sort it out?  Forced singing of the song that’s actually playing might make things worse.  And how irritating would it be if my mashed-up versions started becoming ‘earworms’?

Suggestions for suitable therapy welcome.  Failing that, are there any fellow-sufferers?

Dedicated to Fred the Lard!

Culture Bunker, Music, Time Machine

How to Survive the Eurovision Song Contest 2012

It’s coming.  Every year you say you won’t do it.  You’ll be strong and focused.  You’ll spend the evening doing something worthy, improving and time-consuming, such as reading War and Peace, qualifying as a vet, or redecorating the house.

But you know in your heart that come 8pm on a given Saturday in May, you’ll be in front of Beeb One.  Worse, in a development of recent years, by that stage you may already have sat through the semis.  You may even hate yourself a tiny bit for it.

So, for kindness’ sake, here are my suggestions to add value to an evening that is already, let’s face it, a write-off.

  1. Google Eddie Izzard’s different takes on Engelbert’s name and try to say them aloud with a straight face.  Works well on your own, or prize for the winner if you have company.  Makes children laugh.
  2. If you can, hit the red button for sing-a-long lyrics and translations, share texted wit and wisdom and some backstage shenanigans.
  3. Do something with your hands.  Create a set of matching Jedward pincushions or dartboards.  There are plenty of craft sites out there – what’s the matter with you?
  4. Fancy yourself as a pundit?  Download the scorecards (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070hvg/features/party) and award marks.  Whoever’s selections most closely match the actual result wins the creative efforts from point 3 above.
  5. Have a flutter: http://www.eurovisionodds.co.uk/
  6. Do the nice thing and throw a Eurovision Party.  Decorate the living room http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070hvg/features/party if you feel like spending ink.
  7. Serve Euro-inspired party food: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/collections/eurovision_party_ideas  Warning.  Be selective based on your digestive capacity;  baba ganoush followed by chocolate profiteroles, washed down with home-made Irish cream liqueur might look good on paper, but not on the floor.
  8. Google some Eurovision drinking game rules (they are legion), read, share and apply liberally.  Even more fun to develop your own.
  9. Don’t get mad over the voting.  Brainstorm a ‘Top Ten Pairs of Countries Least Likely to Vote for Each Other.’   Update annually.
  10. As the evening is also often one of nostalgia, draw up a shortlist of most epic Eurovision moments.  Could be of epic success or epic failure.  For example, I’ll give you the majesty of Finland’s 2006 win by Lordi for starters.

Why not send me your survival tips.  Please.

Culture Bunker, Music


Clutter.  We all have it, some of us more than others.

I’m not just talking about that box of DVDs or (ahem) ‘vintage’ clothes that never made it onto eBay.  Some Feng Shui practitioners are now specialising in advice to help us declutter electronically; just because we can’t always see the information that’s stored on our various devices doesn’t mean it isn’t still sitting there.  Unless we’re ruthless, it just accumulates.  Unless we’re super-organised, we risk losing track of the important bits.

Wasn’t all this supposed to be empowering rather than energy-sapping?

Now add the rapid growth of social media into the mix.  Just keeping on top of your Facebook presence, tweets (however brief and crisp), or LinkedIn profile takes a certain amount of thought, effort and discipline.

Perhaps we find comfort in the clutter.  Sometimes we might find ourselves adding to it merrily and copiously, almost unconsciously.  Let’s face it, to use social media concisely and purposefully while staying true to oneself is a skill many of us are still working on.

While this may be true on a personal level, according to ‘Channel Vision’, a study published by Catalogues 4 Business in March 2012, many UK companies and brand owners also have their work cut out in this department.

The research questioned 123 UK companies of varying size, from a range of sectors, about their marketing plans.  It found, perhaps not surprisingly, that over 50% of them were currently using social media as a marketing tool.  Of the remainder, the majority were planning to start using social media within the next 12 months.

However, what may come as a surprise is that the answers from the businesses already using social media also showed that, although they clearly recognized the importance of their own online presence, over half of them were using social media in an unfocused way, lacking any clear strategy or set of goals.

For example, many companies had gone to the trouble to set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other networks, but with a rather ‘scattergun’ approach.  They had not put clear ideas in place as to how they would use any of these as tools to interact meaningfully with their ‘friends’ or followers, to raise awareness of their brand or demonstrate thought leadership.  In turn, they were failing to use social media to direct more traffic to their websites, generate leads or improve their customer service.

Also missing was a firm sense of what would, for them, constitute successful use of social media, and how this would be measured and reported.

A missed opportunity, you might say.  Worse than that, an unloved, untended online profile could become positively toxic, leaving the owner open to negative (and unanswered) comments on their page for all the world to see.

Social media clearly continues to create an enormous potential market, unhampered by physical boundaries.  For businesses and brand owners to harness the power of this fully, they need a well thought-out and consistently-applied social media strategy, and a clearly defined picture of what success would look like.

Otherwise, their message may never make it through our own jungle of clutter to reach us.

Dig-it-all, Word-hoard

Unique Spelling Point

My first ‘proper’ job was at a shipping company (we’d probably say ‘logistics’ these days), and one of my responsibilities was to produce and send out a monthly mailshot.  One day, to my horror, I let a spelling mistake through which meant that across a thousand page headers, freshly returned from our printers, our company referred to itself as an ‘angency’ (which sounds like it should be a business offering specialised medical services for heart patients).

A thousand stickers (and several extra hours’ work) later, I had learnt my lesson, but the episode still comes back to haunt me.

So when I saw what appeared to be one typo and one misused apostrophe in M&S this morning it brought it all back.  Worse, they were in brightly coloured text, several centimetres high, facing customers as they queued at the tills.  The promotional messages were assuring us that the Wiltshire ham was made with “a process that usese no added water”, and that the Cornish Cheddar had won a gold medal at the 2010 International Cheese Awards, “among it’s many awards.”

My twenty-something self, knee deep in stickers, might have sympathised…

Spellbound, Word-hoard

Jones Redux

I’ve dredged up some thoughts on Jones of the Stones and updated my original post about it.

Culture Bunker, Music, Time Machine