Monday, January 31, 2005
1. The pact I made with the devil has paid off - it's been hot and sunny with nary a cloud in sight each and every single day I've been here. Now I finally understand the true meaning of the Great Kiwi Summer.
2. This rule even applies to Wellington. I lived there for four years and never did I see such gorgeous weather as I experienced on Sunday. The new Oriental Parade beach looked like the Riviera. If Welli was always like this, I swear I'd get back my old OP flat and relocate permanently. Tumeke Poneke!
3. Apart from the weather, Wellington hasn't changed a bit. The moment I stepped off the plane (after an only mildly turbulent landing), it was like putting on an well-worn favourite slipper - and I didn't want to take it off. I cried the whole flight back to Nelson.
4. Random things I did in my 24 hours in the capital:
* made like the LOTR cast and had a lovely coffee at the Chocolate Fish Cafe in Miramar
* enjoyed the craic (and all the free booze) at the Wellington Irish Society (culminating in accidentally up-ending a full pint of Guinness over poor Chuck Pettifogspot's lap)
* got told off for lighting up a fag by a sexy barman at Sandwiches (anyone notice that a lack of smoke in bars only serves to unmask the full horror of a thousand sweaty clubbers' body odour? Ick)
* shared a drink with Soane (although made a break for it before his set because of the dull deep house being played by the support DJ, who's obviously still stuck in 1998 - zzzzzzzzzzz)
* ate a great brunch on the waterfront (although the chef's decision to substitute bitter silver beet for spinach in my eggs Florentine was a mistake - it still dealt to the hangover though)
* battled valiantly with my ice cream as it melted while sunbathing on Oriental Parade beach
* attended a surprise 30th dinner party for someone I didn't know. It was great (once I recovered from the embarrassment suffered after witnessing the look of shock on the birthday boy's face - understandable really, it's not every day a complete stranger jumps out from behind your living room door, blowing a party horn and yelling "Surprise!". Er, quite)
5. I don't know whether I just surround myself with broad-minded, intelligent (cough ) people in London, whether it's a Nelson thing or what, but I've never encountered such overt racism as over the past couple of weeks down under. Even the woman in the supermarket dishing out the free wine samples told me, "Ooh, my daughter lives in South London, but she's too scared to go out at night because of all the darkies and Jamaicans." And let's not even start on the casual Asian-bashing. Christ on a fucking pushbike, people!
6. Mac's Gold still reigns supreme. The Monteith's lemon/lime one tastes like dishwashing liquid, the Summer Ale is too spicy for more than one bottle, and the Mac's Reserve too yeasty for these tastebuds.
That's all. Oh, and too much good food and good craic has had the usual holiday result, and my jeans ain't buttoning up again. Damn it. Auckland, I'll see you again on Wednesday.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
1. My god, New Zealand is a truly magnificent country. All those years I was driving round blind... I don't think I ever really twigged the South Island actually had mountains. Wow.
2. I still tan up like no one else - Melanomaville here I come. But at least I've lost that Whitehorse pallor. ;)
3. I've really, really missed my friends.
4. Former Bognor boy Johnson may just have the perfect life - surfing all day, working when he feels like it - out at Karekare beach. He doesn't know it yet but I might have to hide under his bed until after my return flight leaves...
5. NZ is expensive. Don't believe the hype.
6. Auckland seems really small. The buildings are really low. Ponsonby Road on Saturday night felt kinda like a ghost town. But it still rocked - even if I had to smoke my Dunhill Blues out in an alleyway. (I'm on holiday, the odd puff's allowed.)
7. It's impossible to find decent soy yoghurt or soy milk without added sugar and all manner of other wacky extras. Where are the hardcore hippies getting their gear?
8. There are worse things one can do than lie about in alpine thermal springs all day in the sunshine, getting the knots worked out of your spine by expert Japanese masseuses... [dodges brick]
9. Mac's Gold is still the best beer in the world. But then I haven't yet got my hands on a new Monteith's Summer Ale yet.
10. I may not come back.
Ooh, and a couple more things - hurrah for the Oscar nod to incredible Kiwi short film Two Cars, One Night, possibly the most touching 11 minutes of cinema I've seen in years, perhaps ever. And Brotown - how good?
And nice one Bez!!
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Yes, today, for the first time in five years, I'm off home. If anyone needs me, I'll be here (<--).
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Looking back at Kate's (very) enviable track record, however - Johnny, Pete, Jefferson Hack, Daniel Craig, half of Primrose Hill, anyone who's ever played at the Barfly - it would seem I should reassess my verdict of the supermodel as an effortlessly cool but essentially brainless bimbo. Perhaps there's the heart of a poet behind that vacant stare that's ensnaring all these high-calibre, intelligent men.
Though it could simply be the fact she's drop-dead gorgeous - and no stranger to drugs and orgies... ;)
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Anyway, the wedding is this Saturday, to which I shall stagger after flying into Auckland airport at 5.30am that day. It's an 800-people Hindu spectacular, which sounds fabulous but leaves me with the fear it might be a dry occasion. While this is all good for the detox, after a 28-hour flight too damn right I'm gonna need a drink. Would I look like the ultimate London lush if I sneaked in a hip flask?
On the NZ tip, feel free to send me all your recommendations for all the new and exciting things I absolutely must see and do in Auckland and Wellington during my travels (bearing in mind I plan to do nothing but shop, eat, drink and sunbathe).
[PS: Today's title reminds me of the funniest typo I've ever seen, courtesy of the Nelson Evening Mail c. 1982, where, listing the top 20, they wrote 'Billy Idol, While Weeding'. They were also responsible for listing Diesel's Tip Of My Tongue as 'Tip On Dent Aongue', a misprint that became a family joke my sister continues to wet herself over to this day...]
> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Will Never Marry, Morrissey
Monday, January 17, 2005
Just then, my phone rang. It was Life Of Reilly, who'd been round ours for a cuppa the other day. He had bad news. "I'm on my way to hospital," he gasped. "I've got shingles."
"Oh, you poor thing," I said, remembering just how ghastly shingles can be from when my father had it years ago.
"Yeah, it's pretty bad, but I thought I'd better tell you in case I've infected you or Ms G, what with you going back to New Zealand and all."
My blood ran cold. "Oh god. Oh shit. Oh fuck fuck fuck." All feelings of sympathy evaporated as I contemplated the prospect of returning to the motherland for the first time in five years carrying the plague. "If you've infected me, Reilly, I'm going to whup your poxy ass, very possibly kill you horribly... Er, sorry, did I say that out loud? God, you must feel sick as a dog. What are the symptoms?"
"Um, itching, a rash, a sore back..."
Suddenly I became aware of the fact I was itching all over. Was it just my woollen jumper or...? And actually, my back had been aching all day. I thought I'd just slept funny in my two-glass drunken stupor, but now the reason was painfully obvious.
The next three hours were spent shopping aimlessly in Soho, unable to concentrate on the task at hand due to the dread that gripped my skull with icy fingers. Working out a reasonable incubation time, I figured I would probably succumb to the disease somewhere over the Atlantic, infect the whole plane and stumble out at the other end an inflamed mess of rash and scar tissue. My holiday would not involve long, luxuriant afternoons in vineyards, dozing lazily on beaches or eating fresh seafood in swanky restaurants. Instead, I'd be confined to a humid, stinking bedroom, scratching scabs.
It could have been so good. Truly I was the living embodiment of Murphy's Law, snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory every time...
Until I got home and looked up shingles on the net to discover it's not contagious.
> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Still Ill, The Smiths
Friday, January 14, 2005
• 60 hours spent in mid-air, bored senseless in a cramped, stuffy aircraft with only four Temazepam to my name
• 3 weeks lying on a beach/touring wineries/eating seafood in the sunshine
Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to suggest the perfect track and reading matter for each situation in the comments box below. Go wild. (Or not.) x
Doesn't Bez look great these days? Aside from a slight crop of spots which I'll put down to the usual excuse of "a change in the water supply", this man looks amazing considering not only is he 40-something, he's also pummelled his body with more Class-A drugs than have been through the Century toilets in a year. As Ms G commented, "See? Partying keeps you young" (although I'm sure Keith Richards and David Johanssen would beg to differ, not to mention poor old Shaun Ryder).
So yes, VOTE BEZ. Here's to the googly-eyed maniac - the headlights may still be on full-beam with nobody home, but hell, it's the original Freaky Dancer innit? Bless 'im.
> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: 24-Hour Party People, Happy Mondays
Thursday, January 13, 2005
"J____! Hello mate!" He turned around. One of the men came up to him and shook his hand. "Hey guys, this is J____, I've played pool with him down at the pub, he's cool."
To J____, "Sorry mate, we was gonna mug you. Well, you gotta get by, innit?"
And with that, the four jumped back into their BMW and sped off in to the night. Thank the lord for honest criminals.
> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Shopping For Blood, Franz Ferdinand
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
So, like the good prefect I once was, I said it, explaining not only were the objects taonga, but as they're the sacred remains of Maori ancestors, it's probably not a great idea to use them as a doorstop, much as one shouldn't use Queen Victoria's skull as a football.
To Phil & Phil's credit, they apologised profusely on air, explaining they hadn't been aware of the cultural and spiritual significance, etc. So good on them. (Plus, emailing them from the Southsidesoul address also got us national exposure - result!) And aside from feeling vaguely like a smug goody-two-shoes, perhaps I've played the tiniest part in furthering global understanding. Which is kinda cool.
Monday, January 10, 2005
• End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones - this year's must-see music doco. Dee-Deelightful
• Su at Urban for the best haircut ever (those unkind people who have dubbed me "Hitler and Gary Numan's bastard child" or "the missing member of Kraftwerk" know what they can do - it rocks)
• The Man Who Fell Asleep
• Fantasy radio stations
• Tree People, SJD
• LATE ADDITION: Morrissey predicting Princess Di's death - arf! (thanks Jimmy James)
• Garden State (NOT a smart, modern comedy, but a pile of ill-conceived, immature 20-something drivel. And you'll want to garrotte Natalie Portman)
> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Natural's Not In It, Gang Of Four (compare and contrast with The Futureheads. Correct answer: there is no contrast)
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Luckily, I found a (yet another) diversion in Damian's excellent 95bFM show (Sundays from 10am NZT). As I'm journeying back to the motherland in two weeks, Dazza, among others, has kindly agreed to help bring me up to speed on Kiwi music by flooding my Gmail with specially selected nuggets of Nu Zild's finest, many of which I heard on today's show - and which only served me to make me extraordinarily homesick, wishing I was sitting in an Auckland park in the sunshine, kicking back watching bands, a Mac's Gold in hand, enjoying some of that downhome Kiwi green. Yeah, thanks mate. ;)
One of the reasons I left New Zealand all those years ago was that I found it unbearably parochial and insular - but now I think I finally understand. Why shouldn't it celebrate its own, goddammit? And from the stuff I've been hearing lately, its own are still well worth celebrating, especially the god-like Dallas Tamaira, aka Joe Dukie. (I remember having a monster-sized crush on Dallas even before I left NZ, when he was first starting to make waves, so lord only knows what I'd do if I happened to cross his path on my return this time. He makes me feel funny in my tummy, you know.)
You can check out Dallas's golden tonsils on these wee gems - enjoy:
Long White Cloud, Shapeshifter
Hope, Fat Freddys Drop
Sweet Division, Del Rey System
BTW, London-based kids should bookmark Friday 18th February, when the mighty Southsidesoul returns for an almighty great birthday mash-up at the Whitehorse in association with the even mightier Reverberations - look out for Dr Rubberfunk, Asad Rizvi, Ravi McArthur and Tom Gillieron among the ship o' fools on decks. And Smacked Face making the very most of the last night of her 20s...
Friday, January 07, 2005
I'll start the ball rolling with:
• I Can't Kick This Feeling When It Hits, Moodymann (dark room, boosted bass, perfect)
• anything off Ulrich Schnauss's A Strangely Isolated Place (ditto)
• Marquee Moon, Television
• Rotation, Herb Alpert
• Atmosphere Strut, Cloud One
• Make It Last Forever, Inner Life (better than Barry)
• Trippin' Out, Curtis Mayfield
• Rock "N' Roll Suicide, David Bowie/I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday, Morrissey
• Rock Cottage, Ten Benson (for some dirty bump'n'grind)
• Think Twice, Detroit Experiment
• Stagger Lee, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
• Sweetest Pain, Dexter Wansel...
(Blasting Black Betty at 3am is not sexy, as Ms G and Welshboy will attest to.)
You'll either be stroking your chin (hopefully not anything else) and nodding your head at these, or thinking, "Thank Christ this is hypothetical - the prospect of being seduced by Smacked Face sounds positively ghastly." But so certain am I of the sheer sex of these songs, I'll even burn up a disc and offer it with a no-fail money-back guarantee.
On another note entirely, anyone who feels like sponsoring me for the Velvet Revolver/Datsuns gig at Hammersmith Apollo this Sunday/Monday, please feel free...
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Last night entailed a trip daaahn the local to farewell the Frenchman, who is trading managing a little Sarf London bar for managing one of Glasgow's biggest music venues. Good work fella! (He's breaking up his journey northward to pop into Gretna Green and marry his lover of six weeks, which is either the craziest thing I've ever heard or the most crazily romantic thing ever, bless him.)
Unusually, I was forced to retire early from play - my determination to stick to my New Year's resolutions of not drinking or smoking meant I felt unbearably like a fish out of water. What, pray tell, does one do in a pub except drink and smoke? "Why not try talking to people?" you smarmily reply, but a dose of slight deafness courtesy of my blocked sinuses, combined with the roaring in my ears from the overwhelming desire to have a cigarette, soon put paid to that idea.
Mercy. What's a girl to do?
> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Cigarettes & Alcohol, Rod Stewart
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
THE U2 IPOD
The faint suspicion that Apple's mugger magnet was becoming the new Rubik's Cube or deely bopper was only confirmed by the involvement of U2. Truly: never was the bandwagon built that at some point didn't have Bono hurtling sanctimoniously after it. And that advert? It just makes you think: "I don't care if you like the Pope. Your song sounds like Jesus Jones."
While I agree wholeheartedly with the Bono/U2 stuff - their track does sound horribly like Jesus Jones (who, by the way, are still around and available for 'weddings, bar mitzvahs and, if you're the Sultan of Brunei, pretty much anything') - I'm getting a little sick of all this iPod dissing, which strikes me as unnecessarily Luddite.
Sure, there's nothing nicer than slipping a brand new shiny 12" gently out of its sleeve, giving it a quick wipe and a caress, and easing it on to a turntable... but try doing that on the no 159 at rush hour. Likewise, when I'm striding down Brixton Hill of a morning I prefer not to hear, "You'll find it in the matinée, the dark of the mat-mat-mat-mat-mat-mat-mat-mat-mat-mat-mat..." stutter from my CD player whenever I get a bit excited and indulge in a little Jagger-like strutting.
I've been in possession of an iPod before, but now is the first time the much-coveted item has been 100% mine, meaning I no longer have to suffer the random shuffle-mode selection of some steaming turd chosen by an ex. The playlist is all mine and it's all good, damn it.
Now playing: the Doves' new single (out early Feb), Black And White Town. It's got the same driving beat as 2002's fantastic Pounding, but with an almost Alan Braxe Rubicon-esque chord structure and Layo & Buckwacka Love Story feel... It's gorgeous. And it sounds great through an iPod. So there. ;)
PS: The comments box below reminds me of the time the Donkey left his satchel (containing his iPod) at esteemed freehouse the George & Dragon in Hackney Road. Two days later (now sober and having finally dismissed all the other options), he realised its whereabouts and went back downstairs to collect it. The bar staff gave him a shifty look and murmured between themselves before returning shamefaced from upstairs. "Here's your bag, mate," they said, "but, erm, could you give us 10 minutes for the iPod to finish downloading?" Cheeky monkeys - but hey, when opportunity knocks...
> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Black And White Town, Doves
Monday, January 03, 2005
As anticipated, Optimo was amazing. Musical highlights were far too many to mention, or indeed to remember, but thanks to a handy text I sent to myself and a selection of shaky lo-fi videos, I can reveal the following things blew my mind (how did they know to play all my favourite tunes?):
• Sparks' Beat The Clock at five minutes to midnight
• seeing in the new year to Black On White Affair's soul-funk version of Auld Lang Syne (off one of my favourite compilations of 2004, Wheedle's Groove)
• ...followed by what I'm presuming may have been an Optimo re-edit of Rocker by Alter Ego [cheers for the memory nudge, Disco Dave Koresh], with the melody line replaced by bagpipes - spine-tingling
• Iggy's I Wanna Be Your Dog
• an incredible live set by Sons & Daughters
• freaking out when a stranger came up and asked, "Are you Smacked Face?", having recognised the venerable Ms G from the photo galleries, then partying with her until dawn (hi Ursula)
• hearing Teenage Kicks (hurrah!) in the downstairs room and getting all emotional
• the rest of the Optimo boys' fabulously all-encompassing set - a whole heap of electro-disco, Liquid Liquid's Optimo (of course), Funkytown, Blue Monday, Take Me Out (hurrah!), the Duelling Banjos theme from Deliverance...
• and probably my favourite moment, Wouldn't It Be Nice by the Beach Boys - cue mass hugging, smiling and a floor-wide singalong. Ahhh.
Madness with a capital M, and definitely my best NYE for a while. (Until the after-parties, which were so incredibly seedy they've resulted in putting me off partying forever. I haven't touched a drop of liquor since, and promptly gave away all of my cigarettes to friends on New Year's Day. I'd go into details, but even thinking about the pasty teen drug monkeys and ageing crack whores out in force makes me shudder. The final straw came when some snaggletoothed gremlin leapt in front of me at daft o'clock, gasping "Garjfdljflkdflskfoskgsdlkfdlk!", like a hideous Glaswegian ned version of Smeagol. Eeek. It was time to call it a night.)
Big thanks to Twitch and Wilkes for a superb evening, and to the Weegies for their hospitality as always - hopefully they've finally got to bed. xxx