Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Poor Man's Moody Blues

It's weird; while one writes a blog in the hope that people will read it (I think), when people start reading it you suddenly become acutely aware of quality control (or, at least I do). Suddenly things I'd normally waffle on about seem self-indulgent, pointless and irrelevant...

Anyhow, moving on with a bucket load of odds and sods...

Someone asked me last week why my last entry was called 'Von', which led them to asking me why my blog entries all have completely unrelated titles? Actually, it's pretty much straightforward - the title of the blog is determined by the record I'm playing when I start to write it. Sometimes, a song will inspire me to write something that could be construed as just a clever play on words; but on the whole it is just the song title I'm listening to. The main exception being 'The Passion of Lovers', which is a song title, by a band I only give house room because the wife is a fan, that fits perfectly (I think) with my semi-regular blatherings about football.

A Poor Man's Moody Blues is a song by Barclay James Harvest from their most successful album Gone to Earth. Now, this is an album with a strange history for me. It came out in 1977 and had the single Hymn on it, which both my dad and I thought was really good. However, I come from a decidedly agnostic/atheist family and Hymn sounded just like a hymn, therefore it was one of those records that I hid under a bushel. I mean, you didn't just broadcast you liked a God squad record if you wanted to pull, did you?

The religious connection seemed to continue. I bought my dad the album and when I left home I decided that I wanted a copy of it; so, back in cassette tape days, I did a copy and kept it at the back of my tape drawer. In the early 1980s, I met this guy called Daniel; he was only on our scene for a very short amount of time, but he introduced us all to some new music. One particular album he liked was called Are You Free on Saturday by some bloke called Alan Ross. I borrowed the album, decided I wanted a copy, found I had no blank tapes, only one blank side, the other side of the BJH album. It would have to do.

Several listenings of Are you Free on Saturday? and I was convinced that it was a God squad album. There were some strange references in it, culminating in a song called The Man in the White Glove that I was convinced was a song about Jesus. It appeared that I'd correctly placed this album with the only other God album in my collection. In an embarrassing way, this was a result...

About three years ago, I had the chance of buying the vinyl album of Alan Ross's album and at a snip of £5. If there hadn't been other stuff I'd wanted, I would have resisted the urge. You see, the God tape had mysteriously got chewed to buggery in an old tape deck and no longer was any good - I just kept it to remind myself that it would be ... nice... to have a copy again one day. It turned up, I listened to it, I was still convinced that it was a religion fuelled album. Then, because of the fantastic thing called the Internet, I did a search and found out shed loads about Alan Ross and about this and another album he'd made. Alan Ross was a bit of a hippy, but there was nothing to suggest he was a BAC. Then I found a forum that had discussed Are you Free on Saturday? and it seemed that the song I felt was the main culprit was actually about a drug dealer and the power that he wielded over his customers - white glove being a metaphor for heroin.


Anyhow, this morning, I'm sitting in my office farting about with my latest Facebook addiction - Social City - and I thought, "I think I'll listen to something other than Ulrich Schnauss today." So grabbed my disc case of MP3 compilations and took pot luck. Hence why I was listening to Barclay James Harvest and what inspired me to write this opening sequence. The first track to come on was Hymn and it really is a lovely song that is often mistaken to be a Christmas record. I thought, "Is this a God record; some of the lyrics are a bit ambiguous?" So I went in search of BJH on wiki and to discover the truth about Hymn.

Oh dear. Remember recently I said I'm not really a lyrics person? Well, um... I'm really not a lyrics person. Considering my supposed literary abilities, it appears my ability to interpret lyrics is pretty much as good as my joke telling abilities. Hymn is, I quote, "... actually a song against the dangers of drug use and dedicated to musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Paul Kossoff and Janis Joplin..." So really there's only one thing I can say...

My names Phil. There's this song by Barclay James Harvest, it's called Hymn. It might sound like a religious record (and if you think it is and still like it that's okay), but it isn't and it's really good. I've owned the single since 1977.


I had this mental list of bollocks I was going to waffle on about today, but it all sort of got pushed out of my short term memory by all the other stuff that's going through it; so if I recover any of those memories in the next ½ hour, you'll be the first to know about it. But first, it's time for me to go AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

I'm using up the last of my annual leave next week. Having to use nearly 3 weeks up in 3 months is actually pretty hard, especially as I've been really enjoying my project at work. But I've had a bunch of Mondays and Fridays off for the last 3 months and because of the totally fabulous winter we've had, the few times I've ventured out on these days off, I've resembled Scott of the Antarctic and subsequently with the last couple of weeks showing some signs of spring, I figured that I'd use the last of my holiday on having the few days up to Easter off. It's the end of March, how bad could the weather possibly get?

The weather nerd in me has three weather sites bookmarked. All three - the relatively accurate BBC, the better than average and the anything but Accuweather site. All three of them are in total agreement. There's going to be a bitter blast from the East on Tuesday and most places will see some snow on Wednesday; the rest of the week and Easter is going to be cold and below seasonal averages.

Last week, the press was awash with 2010 being the best summer since 1976. It's guaranteed guys; some people who can't even get next week's weather right, reckon this summer is going to be so hot you'll be able to boil eggs in your underpants/knickers! One weather forecaster on Radio5 even said he'd come back on the show in September to either say 'I told you so' or worm his way out by making feeble excuses.

This sort of sits with my 'It'll be a nice summer because we deserve one' theory that I hear every so often and makes as much sense as Katie Price's popularity. The forecasters say they are basing their claims on weather trends and how the weather in other parts of the year tends to affect us. The last time El Nino got as far north as Canada we had one of the wettest and coolest summers in years and at the time forecasters were all saying it was because of the southern Pacific's own version of the gulf stream. So, how come we've just had the greenest and warmest Winter Olympics in Vancouver; all thanks to El Nino; and forecasters are confidently claiming we're in for 100+ degrees?

It's certainly had people talking about it. Being positive about the coming months is always good, especially for a faltering economy, on the verge of a general election and with the effects of the recession still biting. The last thing anyone needs is to be told that after the coldest winter in nearly 50 years, that we're in for a really crappy summer; is it?

If it snows on Wednesday I think I might cry...


Never really got on well with cider, so the rise in the price doesn't bother me. Those people who are discerning cider drinkers will probably feel hard done by, but for the rest of us who see the human wreckage that Diamond White and its ilk have left will think its a sensible idea - just so long as they leave real ale alone.


Football is about as exciting as it could possibly be at the moment. Who would have thought it?


I had to write a press release last week. It was quite strange really, after years of interpreting press releases, I've never really had to write one. Yeah, I knocked them together for Borderline, but that was easy really. I just took the template of comicbook press releases and followed that. This was a proper press release, has to go through the right channels and be approved by all and sunder. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.


There might be a second part to this over the next few days; if I can remember what the other things I was going to waffle about were...

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