Friday, 27 February 2015

I don't think they can handle this.....

Earworms of the Week

California Girls” / “Surfin’ USA” / “Barbara Ann” / “God Only Knows” – The Beach Boys

I’ve mostly been listening to the mp3 recordings of the bass part for the songs my choir are doing this season. The one that’s been most on my mind is the Beach Boys medley that we’re doing, that pulls all these songs together. The songs themselves are obviously classics, and as they’ve been written specifically for vocal harmony, they sound great sung with a choir. The problem, from my point of view, is that the bass entry for “God Only Knows” is extremely tricky to time, with my “dooty-do” coming at the end of a bar and with no really obvious cues. Well, that’s what the musical director is for, right? Learn the part and then watch for my cue…. Not a bad set of songs to have stuck in your head, incidentally. Perhaps let’s not mention that I’ve also had Gary Barlow’s “Let Me Go” stuck in there too, eh?

I Believe I Can Fly” – R. Kelly
No Diggity” – Blackstreet

I’m not generally a huge consumer of R&B, but sometimes you can’t argue with the sheer majestic brilliance of a song when it pops into your head for no reason at all. Oddly for me, I’m not talking about Mark Morrison here either. Of course, the real joy of having an R Kelly song in your head is that we’re only moments away from a mental segue into “My mind’s telling me no. But my body. MY BODDDAAAAY…..”. Sometimes I do that out loud. In the office. It’s all good.

Overkill” – Motorhead

Yes. Emphatically yes.

PDA” – Interpol

Wait, the guy who sings like an undertaker reading from a legal textbook is going out with Helena Christensen? Good for him. I love Interpol. There’s something endearingly awkward about them that really appeals to me. I’m not sure they’ve done anything better than their debut album, but they have been evolving as a band and their records are always an interesting listen, which is a lot more than you can say for lots of other bands.

Creep” - Radiohead

Apparently it’s twenty years since the release of “The Bends”, which remains my favourite Radiohead album. I remember buying it from a record shop in Coventry when I was an undergraduate just starting to revise for my Finals. If memory serves me correctly, I bought it at the same time as I bought “I Should Coco” by Supergrass, and I can remember distinctly sitting at my desk in my room one night listening to them both as Belinda Carlisle played a gig at the student union. Ah, those were the days. It was a good gig, I’m told.  And yes, I know this song isn't on that album.  You just try telling my brain which Radiohead song to earworm.  Try it.

Men in Black” – Will Smith

Difficult to hear this and not think of that scene in an Asda at the beginning of the second series of “Phoenix Nights”: come and get your black bin bags, on offer till December….”

Jesus Hates Faggots” – John Grant

I knew that “Pale Green Ghosts” was a good album, but then you hear “Queen of Denmark” and my goodness me. I’ve introduced the graduate who sits next to me at work to two new artists this week. I think it’s fair to say that she was rather more taken with John Grant than she was when I played her Frank Zappa’s “Bobby Brown”…..

Let It Grow” – Eric Clapton

I’m so old and out of touch that I haven’t seen “Frozen” and I basically don’t know any of the songs. You might say “Let It Go” to me, and rather than the song that everyone else seems to be singing, I tend to get either the Gary Barlow song “Let Me Go” that is part of the repertoire for choir this season or “Let It Grow” which is from the Eric Clapton classic “461 Ocean Boulevard”, which I loved when I was about 15 years old. The kids probably don’t know who Eric Clapton is, right? Hmm. Maybe that’s for the best, on balance. You’d lose “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room”, but on the other hand you would never have to hear atrocities like “Wonderful Tonight”.

Bootylicious” – Destiny’s Child

What’s with all the R&B this week? I reckon I could do a mean karaoke to this, including sexy dance moves. Who wouldn’t want to see that, eh?



Have a good weekend, kids.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

other people's lives....

I've mentioned before how I've met some amazing people since I joined my running club and started to parkrun regularly.  I've met tireless fundraisers like the lady who raised over £50,000 last year for bowel cancer research or the guy who ran 5km every single day for a whole year to raise money for a local hospice.  I've also met people who are incredibly generous with their time and, often good runners themselves, selflessly give up their own runs to help other people reach their goals and to encourage them along the way.  Running with other people has transformed my own running, but meeting some of these other runners along the way has been inspiring and regularly tops up my faith in humanity.  In a small way, it's people like these that have inspired me to do more to help out myself.  Helping a blind runner enjoy a parkrun every once in a while isn't that much of a hardship, to be honest - I enjoy spending time with Terry - but I suppose it's giving something back to a community that's been so good to me.

Lisa, one of the regular runners at my club approached me this week.  She's another fundraiser and is raising money for a local shelter to help women and their children escape from domestic violence.  It's a charity that's very close to her heart - a member of her immediate family was killed by an abusive partner - and as she got into the London Marathon at the sixth time of trying, she's got a site up and is raising money.  Naturally, I made a donation.  It's a small thing to do, right?

Although I'm fundraising myself, and although Lisa specifically asked me for the link to my page, I made the donation with no thought to getting one back for myself.  That's not really what this sort of thing should be about.  My donation had no strings attached.

Anyway.  Lisa came up to me at running club on Monday to tell me that she'd had a chat with her partner and felt that neither of them could afford to make a donation to us anywhere near the size of the one that I'd made to her the other week.  Well, of course that's completely fine..... but what she said next really floored me:

"I've got a day off on 13th April.  As it's a running club night, are you alright if I arrange a cake sale here and give all the money we make to your charity?"

Bear in mind that this lady is chasing her own fundraising target for her own intensely personal charity, and here she is offering to give up her time and energy to raising money for me.  I didn't really know what to say, but while I was rendered temporarily speechless, she went ahead and checked with the venue where we meet that it would be okay and gave me the thumbs up to say we're definitely on.

Lisa comes from a totally different background to me and clearly has a completely different set of challenges and priorities in her life.  She's nothing like me and probably isn't the sort of person I would meet in the normal walk of life.  In fact, if I saw her in the street or in a pub or something, I'd probably make some rather hasty assumptions about the kind of person that she seems to be.

But you know what?  Those assumptions would be completely wrong.

How can you not be humbled by someone like that?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

you can sail the seven seas....

I got into work on Monday to find one of those weekly newsletters from a company that at some point gave you some training.  I unsubscribe from most of these at the first opportunity as I have a very low patience threshold for that sort of nonsense.  I tolerate one or two, however, and it was in one of these that I found the following story:

Not long ago, there were two junior officers in the Dutch Navy who made a pact. They decided that when they were at the various navy social functions, they would go out of their way to tell people what a great guy the other guy was. They’d appear at cocktail parties or dances and say, “What an unbelievable person Charlie is. He’s the best man in the Navy.” Or, “Did you hear about the brilliant idea Dave had?”
They revealed this pact to the public the day they were both made admirals – the two youngest admirals ever appointed in the Dutch Navy.”

This is apparently called "The Dutch Admiral Principle" (it's a "Paradigm" if you're particularly pretentious) and was apparently first told in a book called "Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life" by Terrence E. Deal and Allan A. Kennedy.  A quick google reveals that this is a thing.  People really like this and it's one of those stories that gets used as an example of the power of networking.  There's a closed group on LinkedIn and everything, which I can only assume must have members drawn only from the top drawer of the world's business elite, and doesn't just accept any old Herbert...

It's a nice neat little story, isn't it?

It's also obviously bullshit.  It's wonderfully non-specific, isn't it?  No dates, no names (I'm assuming that there haven't been all that many Dutch admirals called Dave and Charlie). How young were they when they were appointed?  Were they both exactly the same age? How much younger than the next youngest admiral were they? Is this something they keep records on in the Dutch navy?  Is promotion in the Dutch navy based mainly upon networking - at cocktail parties and dances, no less -  and someone talking you up rather than any kind of solid achievement?

It's a nonsense.  It's also exactly the kind of neat story that people who work in business and fancy themselves as quite the thing like to tell to each other as though there's some kind of deep and signifiant meaning to it.  At no point has anyone stopped to wonder if it's actually true or indeed holds any kind of wisdom at all.  If it's not true, then what's the value of it?  Why re-tell it?  Is it actually good advice and a way to move your career forwards, or has someone just made up a good story?  Do you read Tolkien for advice on the best way of destroying a magic ring of power? (well, probably not, because I'm not sure that Gandalf was all that great a programme manager, truth be told.  Way too hands on with little in the way of real delegation and a habit of reacting to events rather than demonstrating any real planning or risk management.  But I digress....)

There's another reason to dislike this story too: my wife and I made a very similar pact back when we first got together in 1999.  I can't help but read this story and wonder if she's been holding up her end of the bargain.....

Monday, 23 February 2015

we'll run till we drop, baby we'll never go back...

It's the shortest month of the year.  There are five days of it left, and already I have overhauled my "distance covered in a month" record, with probably another twenty miles or so to add before March rolls around.

What can I learn from these stats?

That this month I have run about the distance between London and Nottingham.
That I have spent nearly an entire day running in February.
That I have burned the equivalent of 66 Mars Bars or 85 pints of beer
...although only 26 Burger King Whoppers (ugh!)

There was an article in the Guardian the other day that saw a lot of debate in the comments about how "most people" only exercised for the sake of their own personal vanity - how they looked - or to live longer.  Apparently, exercise will help you live for longer, but extra time you gain will not exceed the amount of time you spend exercising.  I'm not quite sure how you measure and quantify something like that, but in the comments section, it was the cue for much self-congratulatory chatter from people saying that their time on the couch watching TV was time better invested.  The idea that people might exercise for the sheer joy of it simply doesn't seem to come into it.

I run for lots of reasons, and nowadays I'm driven by a compulsion that I don't really understand, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't find it fulfilling.  Perhaps if you're not a runner, "joy" might sound a bit strong, and I'm not going to try to tell you that every run is a delight from start to finish, but there's something elemental about the pleasure you get from working your body like this; from disciplining your mind just as much as you are training your body.

My training programme for this marathon has been weighing heavily on my mind recently and my days seem to be dominated by the thought of the runs to come (6.34 miles tonight, but I'm running to and from work on Wednesday and it's already in my thoughts).  You know what though?  The runs themselves have been great.  They really have.  They are sucking up increasingly large amounts of my time and leave me good for nothing much more than an early night... but they've been a joy.

Friday, 20 February 2015

milk blood to keep from running out...

Earworms of the week

Madness” – Muse

I suppose this is a fairly atypical Muse tune in the sense that it is dominated by that bass line and not by a ludicrous guitar solo (compare and contrast with “Knights of Cydonia”, for example). On the whole, I prefer the guitar solos, but this song is so naggingly bloody catchy that it’s proving very difficult to shift. The album (“The Third Law”) is just like all their other albums in the sense that, although it’s pretty good, I like more Muse songs than I like Muse albums, if that makes sense. They’re brilliant live, obviously.

In the Ghetto” – Elvis Presley

Until fairly recently, I wasn’t much bothered by Elvis Presley. In fact, the first time I heard this song was as part of the KLF record “Chill Out”, when it drifts ambiently in and out of hearing, as though blown in by a passing breeze. It’s one of the King’s best, actually. Social commentary, innit? He’s come quite a long way from itching like a man on a fuzzy tree by this point in his career. Have I ever mentioned that I have a friend who does an uncanny Elvis impersonation. He brought the house down with a rendition of “Suspicious Minds” at his own wedding. You might question the choice of song for a wedding, but you certainly can’t argue with the man’s performance…

Call Me” - Blondie

Whoever chooses the music that is piped through our reception has got pretty reasonable taste. I was walking past this morning to be greeted by a distinctly invigorating blast of Blondie. Perhaps they choose songs based on their cost, but there’s been more than a few times when I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the music we play to those people nervously waiting to be brought through the barriers for an interview or whatever.

Trouble” / “Don’t Panic” – Coldplay

As I’ve said many times before, I know they’re scorned by many serious (*strokes beard*) music fans, but I will admit to quite liking Coldplay. I’ve tuned out of their last couple of albums, but the first three are all pretty good. I put “Parachutes” on the other day and was very pleased to remember a time when the music was a little bit sparser and Chris Martin’s lyrical and emotional generalisations weren’t quite so grating. I’m in the “Fix You” video, you know.

The Hallelujah Chorus” – George Frederick Handel

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! I used to sing this at school back in the day and it’s a cracking little number. Perhaps Leonard Cohen’s lyrics to his similarly named song have a little bit more world-weary depth, but you have to take your hat off to Handel for this effort. Who says I don’t like classical music? I’m a huge fan of the Beatles. Etc.

All My Life” – Foo Fighters

Friday night headliners at Glastonbury? Oh, go on then. He’s a born entertainer. Like Muse, I’m not sure if the Foo Fighters have ever done a great album, but they’ve certainly done some great songs and they put on a brilliant live show, so I’ll be standing down by the Pyramid that night. The rumour has always been that AC/DC would headline the Saturday night, but after Metallica last year, would Michael Eavis really go quite so ROCK this year? I’d be all over it, for sure, but I can hear the hippies complaining already. Spare a thought too for those poor Foo Fighters fans on social media this week who were so excited about this announcement that they started looking into how they could get tickets for this year’s Glastonbury….

Blood Sugar Sex Magik” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Damn but I love this album. It’s not the most sophisticated album the band ever recorded (I think “By the Way” is their high water mark”), but for me this album is inextricably bound up in memories of a very formative time of my life. There’s a VHS home video of me from around 1991 where I’m singing a snatch of this song at some party somewhere. As I recall, about halfway through, I realised that I didn’t know the lyrics half as well as I thought that I did, so I ended up mostly singing gibberish. With the hair and glasses I had back then, it’s probably for the best that the tape is lost in the mists of time, eh? I

Good Vibrations” / “California Girls” / “God Only Knows” – The Beach Boys

Because harmonies. Beautiful, beautiful harmonies from a more innocent time.

The Needle and the Damage Done” – Neil Young

Neil Young! Again! Well, he’s been hovering around and about my internal jukebox for weeks, and I eventually gave up and gave the old man a listen. Such a subtle songwriter, but also capable of some stunningly thunderous guitar work. This song is at the more sensitive end of the spectrum, of course…. And it’s beautiful. The sense of sadness and loss is tangible. Which, of course, makes it all the more ironic that Kurt Cobain quoted another Neil Young lyric in his suicide note: It’s better to burn out than to fade away. My, my. Hey, hey. Into the blue, indeed.

See you next week, true believers.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

slave to the grind....

I seem to have reached a point in my marathon training where I’m always tired. I’m running more miles per week than I ever have and my life seems to consist mostly of working, running and sleeping. I know I’m not as young as I used to be, but napping on the sofa is becoming a way of life for me now. As the mileage on my training programme climbs remorselessly higher every week, I’m having to think harder and harder about how I’m going to fit all of the miles in. I’ve started trying to run to work (a round trip of 7.2 miles) at least once a week simply because it’s such a time efficient way of getting the miles under my belt. It doesn’t actually take that much longer than my normal bike ride, but the day I’ve chosen to do it – Wednesday – is the day after my weekly injection, when I’m usually feeling physically flat at the best of times and it feels a bit of a struggle.

My body seems to be holding up reasonably well, all things considered. Most of the areas I was worried about have been very well-behaved, and the only thing on my weaker left side that’s been causing me any bother is my hip on longer runs. Given that I was struggling to run much over six miles at a time for most of the last two years, I consider that to be something of a success, even if it has meant an increasing amount of time spent doing tedious stretching exercises. I’ve even been persuaded of the benefits of a dynamic warm-up, even if I keep forgetting to do the corresponding cool-down when I get back in.

Other things have been bothering me, though. My back is protesting: perhaps at the increased mileage, but more likely because I’ve basically stopped swimming to squeeze in a few extra miles. It’s funny how a simple half hour of sploshing up and down the pool really eases out the muscles in my back. I really need to work that back into my routine, but I’m reluctant to give up my increasingly precious rest days. I’ve also been suffering from deep-set muscle pain in my thighs. This is easy enough to explain, and I’m told that training on tired legs really helps the muscle development, but there are some days when every single step of a run prompts an internal monologue of “Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch….”.

Perhaps most worrying is my motivation. Don’t misunderstand me: my iron will is intact and there is pretty much nothing that’s going to come between me and my training schedule… it’s just that I’m finding that, as the runs get longer, the more they dominate my day. The long run on a Sunday I can take, it’s ever since the midweek runs crept beyond my usual 4 or 5 miles that they really started to become mentally tougher to manage. Tonight’s a good example, with a normal day in the office topped off by an 8 mile run as soon as I got home and put away my bike. As soon as I got in from running home last night, tonight’s run was on my mind and loomed throughout the rest of my day. Funnily enough, I don’t actually mind the running itself, and tonight's run was pretty nice even though it was raining.  It’s just the mental bit that I’m finding unexpectedly difficult. Perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m not all that keen to fill a run-less day on Friday with a swim. I just want to park my arse in a chair and rest. I’d think about giving up my cycle to work, but I don’t really count that as exercise and I think sitting in the traffic would be even more stressful.

Sixty-five days to go to the London Marathon, and the best part is that my longest training run to date hasn’t even broken the halfway point

Pfff. I’ve got this.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

(mr lonely)

I’m a fairly resilient individual, I think.

When I was first sent away to boarding school, I was seven years old. That’s pretty young to be sent away from your parents, but I can never remember being homesick.  Plenty of other people were, and I often thought that I should, but I never did. Maybe I was too young to really know what has happening. Maybe I was emotionally crippled *before* the English Public School system got to me. Who knows? What I do know is that I largely took this rather dramatic change in my circumstances in my stride.

It’s been much the same ever since.  Not only am I not terribly emotionally demonstrative, but I also generally seem to have a fairly even temperament. I’m stoical; phlegmatic; self-possessed. Stiff-upper lip? Naturally, old boy. I am the master of my fate; the captain of my soul; I can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run. I am a man, my son!

Overstating my case? Well, perhaps a little…. But the point is that I’m not one of life’s screamers and shouters and I generally keep an even emotional keel. My wife is away quite a lot during the week, and although I’d obviously prefer to spend more time with her, the truth is that I’m quite good at filling that time with other things, even if those things are nothing more than finding a good, comfortable chair by a radiator and reading until I go to bed. Actually, it’s often harder to do those sorts of things when someone else is around…I like being around other people, but they tend to make demands of your time, and as an introvert, I certainly don’t mind spending time on my own . I do talk to my cat a lot, but, to be fair, I do that when other people are around too. Besides, she talks back.

Just occasionally though, an actual emotion will work its way through my defences and refuses to be rationalised away. This happened to me yesterday. I’ve spent most of the week in glorious isolation: it’s half-term, and lots of people are on holiday including both the guys in my immediate team as well as my boss. I’ve had a few meetings, but largely I’ve been able to put my headphones on and just get on with things. It was Shrove Tuesday, and I decided I would get myself a pancake from the canteen once I’d finished my sandwich. I don’t usually make a point of having a pancake on Pancake Day, but yesterday I decided that I would. I took it back to my desk to eat and was suddenly hit by a distinct sensation of loneliness. It didn’t last for long, and I don’t know whether it was caused by a flashback to childhood, my wife being away or what… but there it was. An actual emotion.

I do experience them after all.  Why is this water leaking from my eyes? Why?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

reflect what you are, in case you don't know....

Apparently, I look like Steve Jobs.

On Friday, I went out for a drink with a couple of colleagues. It was a pleasant affair, made all the more pleasant when we were joined by our respective partners. My wife managed to make room in her busy schedule between her pole fitness class and her evening of fencing to swing by for a quick drink. I was wearing a black long-sleeved t-shirt, and this seemed to hasten the comparison with Jobs. One of my colleagues remarked that, when he first joined the company a year ago, I came to do a presentation to him and to the other new starters. All, I’m told, were beside themselves from the moment I walked into the room by my similarity to the late co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple.

This comparison had never occurred to my wife, who now looked across the table at me with an appraising eye:

“He does! “ [googles a picture of Steve Jobs on her phone and holds it up to my face for comparison] “He really does! If he still wore glasses, he’d look even more like him too…”

OK. Bald, bearded, greying and wearing a black t-shirt. That’s all it takes for you people? Or did you factor in my obvious charisma and far-sighted genius?

Personally, I’ve always seen myself as more of a Steve Wozniak kind of a guy….


Also, who does that thing with their thumb on their chin?

What is that?


In the course of researching this post*, I discovered that Steve Jobs was 1m 88cm tall.  For some reason, I imagined him to be a lot shorter than that.  He was shorter than me by a good 10cm, but that's still pretty tall by almost anyone's standards.  Also, poor Woz: destined to always be the Josh Gad to Jobs' Ashton Kutcher.

* Yes, I research posts.  Laugh it up!

Monday, 16 February 2015


Today, a friend of mine shared this post from “Positive Living with MS” on her Facebook feed  It talks about how, sometimes, the most difficult question in the world to answer is “Are you feeling better?”

I don’t know if people realize how difficult being asked such a question is for someone living with a chronic illness. Am I feeling better than what? How I was feeling yesterday? Last year? Five minutes ago? It’s not like I have the flu or a broken arm. Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic progressive disease which means it doesn’t go away just because I went to bed early, had a ten minute break at work, or took two aspirin this morning.I am sick with a disease that has no known cure. My immune system is rebelling and causing chaos in my Central Nervous System. It is attacking the nerves throughout my brain and spine and eating them like they are hot wings at a tailgate party. It affects my entire body from my eyes down to my toes.”

Some of this rings true for me, but because my MS remains largely invisible to all but the keenest observer, I don’t generally have to do battle with people’s preconceptions of the disease. I certainly don’t keep my condition a secret and I do occasionally have to deal with the odd person asking if I’ve thought about some amazing alternative therapy or other that they have heard about in passing and feel they should pass on to me… but they’re generally well-intentioned when they do offer up these little gems, even if I am perhaps a touch insulted that these people think I have done so little research into my own condition and just like to do nothing but lie back and suffer.

Whilst I can understand the frustration in that post, it seems to me to be rather ironically lacking empathy. It’s all very well accusing other people of not being sensitive enough towards a complex and unpredictable neurological condition, but perhaps we should be more understanding ourselves towards people who are only reaching out in the best way they know how. Maybe they’re being clumsy and insensitive and perhaps downright ignorant, but they’re basically expressing concern, aren’t they? I’m not sure that warrants such a (passive-)aggressive response.

She goes on:

But regardless of everything I am facing…no matter what happens or how down I may feel…I am a fighter. Each morning I wake up to a battle. Not one of my choosing, but I wake up swinging with all the strength that I have. Sometimes I am weak and MS wins. But even on my worst days, I am not a quitter. I may never “feel better” but this battle isn’t over and neither is my life. I am simply living it differently than you.”

Again, I kind of know what the author means here, and perhaps I’m being overly-sensitive, but that reads to me as a little bit “victim-y”. It’s wallowing, even if only a little bit, in the condition and the sense of being the victim of a remorseless enemy.

 I don’t buy that. MS isn’t personal; it hasn’t chosen me any more than it's chosen anyone else; it isn't evil or malevolent. Living with MS isn’t a battle and there are no winners or losers. We may have a chronic, incurable neurological condition, but in a very real way, we’re no different to anyone else. Life’s a death sentence for everyone. All we have, all any of us really have, is to choose how we live with whatever cards we've been dealt.  Good or bad. You might wish this had never happened to you, but so do all who live to see such times. But it is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

Wait… that last bit might not be all that original and I think it could have been Yoda who said that first  Or Confucius.  Or maybe Gandhi.  Well, anyway, it's good advice.

Get busy living, or get busy dying, as Gandalf used to say to Frodo.

That too.

Friday, 13 February 2015

And now you wonder but you can't look away….

Earworms of the Week

Forever Autumn” – Justin Hayward

I’ve never actually seen or listened to “The War of the Worlds”, if you can imagine that. I was dimly aware of the song, but if I’m completely honest, was basically introduced to it when it was part of the Spring season at choir. I actually prefer the choral version to Hayward’s too. Sorry if that makes me seem like an ignoramus, but there you go.

Vienna” – Ultravox

Pretentious, but also strangely catchy. An inevitable earworm, probably. I’ve probably done well to hold it off until now, to be honest. Quite how the Viennese manage to function with this existing, I can’t imagine. There are probably whole radio stations that broadcast nothing else, and others that broadcast nothing but this and “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco. There’s no other music that Vienna is famous for, right?

Woman” – Wolfmother
Get Free” – The Vines

It was Wolfmother that popped up on my iPod this week, but for some reason (probably because they’re both Australian bands) this song is paired in my head with “Get Free” by the Vines. The latter is comfortably the better song, I think… but it’s hard to ignore the simple pleasures of that incredibly dumb riff. Well-chosen for Guitar Hero, that one. I remember that a young Viennese boy of my acquaintance who had grown up with a family steeped in classical music, was particularly taken with this and with “Strutter” by Kiss. My work there was done.

Theme to “Knight Rider

They’re turning one of the wine gardens near our Viennese friends into a Californian themed restaurant called “Melrose”. It won’t be finished for a few more months yet, but it’s already looking distinctly promising because there’s always a black Trans-Am parked right outside made up to be exactly like KITT from Knight Rider, right down to the red light on the front, the crappy 70s buttons on the console and that absurd steering wheel. Given we all thought that car (KARR?) was the bees knees back in the day, it actually looks surprisingly rubbish. I’m hoping they can book Hasslehoff for the grand opening and have him drive around in the car with this theme tune pumping out at full volume. Who wouldn’t want to eat at the place after that? Apparently, in the German version, KITT didn’t have a ridiculously camp voice. Well, I think that’s their loss. I don’t think the programme would be quite the same if the voice of the car had been done by someone like Orson Welles, Richard Burton or Morgan Freeman. Do you?

Bullet in the Head” – Rage Against the Machine

Most righteously angry band ever? Discuss.

Painkiller” – Turin Brakes

I read an interview the other day where someone (and I not-terribly-helpfully can’t remember who it was) talked about how they were friends with one of the guys from Turin Brakes… cue this earworm, almost immediately. This is a great song, sounding as fresh today as it did when I first heard it in 2002. I prefer their first album, mind. Are they still a going concern? [googles]. Why, yes they are and have apparently released several albums since I tuned out in, erm… about 2003. I perhaps could have worked harder to keep up with them, eh? Apparently, according to the Daily Mail in 2014, they’re back with their sixth studio album and their biggest tour in 10 years (they played the Rescue Rooms in November)! They recorded a version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Breaking the Girl” for Dermot O’Leary’s Radio 2 show… proving again that I’m old and in a demographic I never imagined I would join. That was careless of me.

Orpheus” – Ash

Worth it for the rush of the first fifteen seconds of the song, if for nothing else. “Meltdown” is a perfectly respectable album, but it’s hard to escape from the impression that the album peaks with the opening track. I sort of keep meaning to download the album Ash did where they released a single every week for a year. For such a strong singles band, that has to be worth a listen, right?

After the Goldrush” / “Harvest Moon” – Neil Young

Given that I haven’t actually listened to any Neil Young for a while, he seems to be very much on my mind, with an entry last week and two this week. “After the Goldrush” is just a beautiful record and is always welcome to play on the internal jukebox (particularly if it’s replacing the Knight Rider theme). The version of “Harvest Moon” that I’m earworming is very specifically the one from the MTV Unplugged album, where Neil has a guy playing the broom in the background. That always struck me as marvellous. I reckon even I might be able to play the broom.

You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man” – The Beards

One of my friends started growing a beard for Decembeard and has extended the project, with the blessings of his wife, to extend to a whole year to raise money for Bowel Cancer research, in memory of his father. It’s a worthy cause, and is increasingly becoming an excellent beard too, with some very distinguished grey streaks. Hipsters might be worried about the fact that we have apparently reached peak beard, but those of us in the know understand that fashion is temporary and class is permanent. Right-thinking ladies understand the power of the beard, too……..

Have a good weekend, y’all. Running, sleeping and rugby for me again this week. Good times.