All 9 entries tagged Hero Worship

Bow before your superiors

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January 23, 2007

Martin Rowson

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One World Week finally threw something up other than food under curtains in the Union (joke) – thank you, thank you, thank you to whoever was responsible for booking Guardian, Independent, etc etc cartoonist Dr Martin Rowson to give a talk on political cartoons and their history. It was probably the most fascinating talk I’ve heard in my time here. Sorry lecturers, but this was brilliant.

Dr Rowson has a ridiculous number of plaudits and honours to his name. He’s London’s official cartoonist. He’s won cartoon of the year. And judging from the talk today he is well informed on the history of cartoons, from Hogarth, Gillray and Low, to his contemporaries like Steve Bell.The talk could easily have been three or four times as long and (numb bum from sitting on the floor aside) it wouldn’t have made a difference. It was one of the most informative hours of my life. He presented us with his philosophy and his methodolgy, albeit not in an in depth, “I use these pencils” kind of way (I admit, I asked him about those details afterwards).

His philosophy was one which I felt was perfectly balanced. Whilst admitting there are contradictions to beware of, he articulated an idea (I’d hesitate to say doctrine though manifesto would fit) that in politics those who you are drawing are people who have enough presumption to want to rule our lives. Thus they are themselves legitimate targets to be satirised. Dr Rowson insisted he never picks on anyone less powerful than himself. This lead him to an interesting discussion of the Danish cartoons – he feels the cartoons themselves were wrong because they picked on people weaker than the cartoonists – poor Muslim immigrants in Denmark – but the over the top reaction distracted and derailed the debate. To his mind the protests almost justified the cartoons. Almost, but not quite. It is a fascinating perspective that many people in that debate never thought of. The position of the artist overlooked. Guess it takes an insider to see such things, and yet I was completely in agreement with him.

Martin Rowson on Bush in Iraq.

He covered a lot of topics – a brief history of cartooning which could have been longer, and which I think he would have made longer of he’d had more time, and which got me really thinking about my course (this happens to us historians). He went into the rivalries amongst cartoonists (they steal from each other all the time which was funny). He dealt with 9/11 and Blair and Iraq.

Hogarth’s ‘Gin Lane’, one of the most important cartoons of all time.

Cartoons are seen as things which are meant to be funny, something which both frees and limits them. The Guardian should continue its podcast obsession and get Dr Rowson to give his talk (or a version of, it was rather visual with lots of his art and the art of those who inspired him) in a form which can be downloaded and heard further afield.

I have a lot to think about now, which is nice.

February 28, 2006

Linda Smith

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I don't normally find myself that bothered when famous people die. I don't know them and they rarely mean a massive amount to me. But sometimes the person who has died is so unexpected or so young that it makes me stop for a moment.

It's worse when they're someone I've actually always admired and looked up to, both in their professional capacity and in their other pursuits. One of those people was Linda Smith who has died at the horribly young age of 48.

In 2002 she was voted the Wittiest Person In Britain by Radio 4. It was a well deserved title. Though not massively well known she was brilliant, absurdly clever and had an almost perfect comic delivery style. If I knew she was going to be on a radio show, or even a TV show though that was rarer, then I'd be there to listen. I liked her because she was never bitchy although she could be acerbic when she wanted, never moaned in her comedy, it was always pointing out the absurd but retrospectively obvious.

She also was the sort of celeb we could do with more of. Her age was pretty much a secret until the obituaries, unusual as these days we even know how much celebs have had to eat for lunch, the saturation of culture makes the more private ones more admirable and interesting. She was president of the Humanist Society, and often made statements on the subject.

She had principles. She had wit and intelligence. She was a real person. That's why I'm sad to hear she's gone. Linda Smith, you are a legend and I am happy to tag this entry as "Hero Worship". Today is a sad day for what we have lost but let's remember her for her devastating wit and one liners. If I ever come out with anything half as clever I'll be happy.

Linda Smith quotes.

Laughter is the best medicine, but that's not true if you've got facial injuries. Quite a nasty setback.
Anne Widdecombe's confused us all by going blonde. I was watching Question Time thinking, blimey, Sue Barker's slapped on a bit of weight
Ever since cloaks and top hats moved out of fashion, you hardly ever see young women tied to railway lines.

October 29, 2005

It's Not Just Us With The Ball In The Net

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Sometimes I get asked why we manage to rack up such large scores in our football matches. In future I will direct people to the result from Thursday night.

England 13–0 Hungary

Kelly Smith you are an absolute legend… and everyone else clearly wasn't that bad either, hehehe.

October 04, 2005

Manic Street Preachers – Forever Delayed DVD

5 out of 5 stars

I've been ill on the sofa and decided to watch this DVD all the way through with the aim of recalling the old days when I didn't have the flu. It's not really worth even attempting to read all this unless you love the Manics as much as I do, it's bloody long. I think I'm just in a Manics mood.

I'm not one for reviews mainly because they aren't really read by anyone and there are few reviewers in general (not just on blogs) who are any good. Most of the ones in the national newspapers and music press aren't hugely inspiring. Even my staple, the NME, shouldn't really be exposed to people until they've learned how to read it (a hyped band will never get less than 7 or the NME loses face, therefore avoid any hype band who gets 7 and, even, be careful of 8s; Limp Bizkit/Linkin Park/any uncool nu metallers will get 3 maximum; etc).

But I really want to write about this DVD and I felt this review format needs testing out. And by "really want to write about this DVD" I mean I really really really want to write about it.

I'm crap with DVDs like this. I buy them, and then dip in and out, which I guess is the idea. But this time I watched it all the way through and it was amazing. Basically it is the evolution of the band from 1990 to 2003. 13 years will change anyone just on a physical level, but this had the added dimensions of the ten periods (six albums, plus four stand alone singles) of their career. And what a career! Never will there be a band as wonderfully clever and contradictory. Perfectly designed to piss off everyone and everything.

Motown Junk The first track is a stand alone single and ridiculously cheap. It's basically a badly mimed live performance which is so 'of its time' that you almost can't take it seriously. There are feckin' Madchester pudding bowl haircuts on display for crying out loud. The band look about 12 and have those wonderfully naive spray painted motto teeshirts. It smacks of the balls of total conviction and in it can be seen the reason they made it. Motown Junk is an ok punk song, but it wouldn't have made stars of most people. The stardom is there in the people playing the music. Pouting, eyeliner wearing kids. When all was Shaun Ryder and the lads of the Manc scene you can understand why this band meant something to those who didn't subscribe to the prevailing mood.

Generation Terrorists Seven videos from the debut they claimed would sell seventeen million and be their last. Didn't work out that well but I don't really think they ever meant that. It was hyperbole from a band who knew the value of getting their faces in the press, and did so with brilliant (albeit at times horrifying) effectiveness. In truth Generation Terrorists is six tracks too long and way too self important in parts. But this is the best way to experience it, in small doses of the good songs (of the good tracks on the album only 'Spectators Of Suicide' isn't here).

Ok there are two videos for 'You Love Us'. The first one is ok, low budget and less early 1990s than 'Motown Junk', but it pales so much compared to it's update. 'You Love Us (Sony Music Version)' is quite simply one of the best videos ever made. Pretty much everything of their rhetoric is in there, from their own self belief through to their assertion that "all rock and roll is homosexual". It is wonderfully self parodying and satirical at the same time. In an attempt to piss off as many people as possible they play all the cards certain to annoy the musos of the world – self love, a big arsed guitar solo and heaps upon heaps of homo-eroticism.

Richie and Nicky playing up to the cries of"faggots" that they (both straight) got for being so flamboyant, is a sight to behold. It's something that's repeated in the 'Love's Sweet Exile' video which goes even further with its androgenous duo getting even more suggestive. Both videos manage to escape that early 1990s feel by being something more than their time. Think of those videos you've seen recently. The ones which seem most 'now' will be the ones you will cringe at in ten years time.

The other Generation Terrorists videos aren't as good as this pair. 'Stay Beautiful' Is nicely shot pratting around with paint and a bloody stupid visual metaphor. It, curiously, is the video which is most visually resonant of the late 1970s punks whom the Manic loved. 'Slash And Burn' is typical of the lazy concert footage videos they too often go for. It's not bad for a fan to watch their heros in action, but a video should intrigue the outsider as well. 'Motorcycle Emptiness' skirts close to the unimaginative but it's a jaw droppingly good song (essentially their second best, even people who disagree strongly on the best will name this as the second best) and this rescues the slightly slow moving video. It's easier to appreciate the shots and vignettes when the backing is so awesome.

'Little Baby Nothing' finishes the Generation Terrorist era with a typically Manics move – the 'just the right side of bludgening obvious video'. It's a song about women being mistreated in porn so guess what? It's full of empowered women! Let's face it 90% of bands would make it heavy handed but it's not as bad as that by some distance. Ironically the only heavy handed gesture is a bloody unsubtle reference to the hammer and sickle which is lofted by the least convincing female communist I have ever seen (and you'd be surprised how many I've seen).

So they were young, they had something to say, and they damn well said it. The 'You Love Us' and 'Love's Sweet Exile' should be shown to everyone because I bet they'd still shock even today. And that was certainly the point.

Suicide Is Painless Another stand alone single and frankly a weak performance video. Performance videos have to be something special to be memorable and… well to be honest I've had to put the DVD on to remind myself what happens. Not a good sign.

Gold Against The Soul More mature, less controversy baiting. They look older, James Dean Bradfield actually looking like a rock star and not a hyperactive teenager like in the earliest videos. The first single 'From Despair To Where' tries to replicate the 'Motorcycle Emptiness' formula of visually well shot but not hugely narrative video but the, though good, the song just isn't 'Motorcycle Emptiness'. 'La Tristesse Durera' works better, it's brutal contrast of the old and young giving it something. The removal of the old from the frame of young people's music videos is so all encompassing that to witness their existance in the media is to cause to viewer to consciously step back and note the oddness of it. Now this is not the place for a debate on the way youth culture rejects the old so completely, but it does demonstrate the fact that so few bands are willing to drag it into view. Makes you wonder if maybe Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' video shouldn't be mandatory viewing…

Anyway, the other two videos from Gold Against The Soul again fail to ignite the imagination. 'Roses In The Hospital' is set in… a fucked up hospital. Whilst not as hideously embarassing as most pop videos (where a lyrical mention of, say, a phone, will elicit the appearance of a phone, or possiby some dancers dressed as phones) it's still no classic compared to what surrounds it. As for 'Life Becoming A Landslide', well you know it's the fourth single, you can practically guess before seeing it that it will be a performance montage. Again, something for fans, though it is the first time, in the choreograohed world of videos, that you can see that all is not well with Richie, he's slightly too skinny, slightly too worn.

The Holy Bible Just three videos, who knows what would have been in the video for the unreleased single 'Yes'. Personally I'd have liked to have seen that, the song is so viscerally brilliant that I honestly believe it could have matched 'You Love Us'. Plus the track uses the word cunt in the first few lines which is so daring as to be admired. With every rapper and his dog shouting as many fucks as they can, there are still some words which retain the (frankly ridiculous) power to offend in themselves, not their context. It takes some bravery to even consider a track containing it to be single worthy.

'Faster' is a simple video which combines two formats which should irritate – performance on white background and flashed messages. But it's shot in an almost painfully bright white studio, and shot so as to aid the music. Like a turbo charged 'Motorcycle Emptiness' video? Yes. By contrast 'Revol' is a mess, but it always was their worst single. It looks like it was shot on a disused Bond set then editted on my laptop which explains why it keeps stopping for no apparent reason. I hate my laptop. The CD player has stopped working.

'She Is Suffering' is weird. It looks like they've wandered onto a set designed for some OTT goth poppers (The Rasmus possibly) and decided to embue it with some genuine menace rather than hoody wearing 14 years olds with 'issues'. Everything is slightly wrong. The puppet is the scariest one I've ever seen, complete with scary kid manipulating it. This time the implied homo-eroticism is very very ambiguous (and doesn't involve the band themselves) and slightly disturbing. The only one of the two we can see doesn't look like she's necessarily enjoying the experience. But then no one does in this video. Richie looks really ill and not surprisingly. He disappeared within months.

So all subsequent videos walk in the light of being the work of a three piece, not a four piece. Here they changed, stopped being the idealists who thought they could change the world and became three men trying to make sense of a world they couldn't change, one which they couldn't even affect in a small way, like keeping a friend. In such light, shines…

EVerything Must Go Ok, I think 'Design For Life' is the best song ever. No question. None. And the video is perfect. It is perfectly shot, beautifully dirty in its presentation of everything they stand for being attacked. False optimism in the form of 1950s images of happy families. The truth of the collapse of the leftist project in the 1980s. And the band looking so different yet so much the same. They don't wear the makeup and fur of their youth but they do wear the looks of determination. It's a truth we need to know. We do change as we age, outwardly in the main. But it doesn't have to change who we are and what we believe.

The other videos off this album get contrasting treatments. 'Australia' smacks of last single symdrome, it looks good but doesn't really do the band justice. 'Everything Must Go' and 'Kevin Carter' are both good though. 'Everything Must Go' looks beautiful, all billowing blossom and adventurous camerawork. It plays more cinematically than anything before or since. 'Kevin Carter' by contrast manages to make the song's theme more obvious without overdoing it (no phones when the lyrics mention phones… metaphorcally of course, no phones were mentioned in the course of this song). The tyranny of the photograph rarely looks so potent. It also marks the move towards more slick videos is almost complete. Not that they make it easy, the flashing lights could give some people handaches. Typical really, even when bordering on conventional they don't quite make it.

This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours And so the cinematic thing continued. 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next' is another advance on 'Everything Must Go'. The people with no faces, the blood all over the white scenery, the harshness of the white. This isn't the work of someone who wants you be comfortable with your viewing. It's up with the best I've ever seen just because it's so disconcerting and yet reassuring at the same time. There's nothing scary, only the unfamiliar. Why fear that?

'The Everlasting' isn't great, it's a nice shot (James bursting into flames in time with the music) which isn't really given much room to expand into somehting more exciting. 'You Stole The Sun From My Heart' is rescued from being jsut another performance video by being well shot though th animated bluebirds are just fucking stupid. 'Tsunami' belongs to the 'Suicide Is Painless' school of not memorable despite being stylisticially very similar to 'Faster' (performance + slogans). It is a sign of just how much more vital a song 'Faster' actually is.

The Masses Against The Classes An impassioned live performance but I don't buy live DVDs for the simple reason that even films of gigs I've been to just don't engage me. You have to be there. Seriously.

Know Your Enemy The crap album but the videos do drag the notable songs (minus 'The Convalescent') into a better light. 'Found That Soul' makes more sense with its claustrophobic video, even if the reading list supplied halfway through is probably the most heavy handed thing they've ever done. It's not a bad thing (we should read more) but the shots of books thoughout the video show it can be done more subtley than focussing on a pile of books laid out to inform us of what book group manic will be discussing next week. Maybe I'm just annoyed because I feel that I've invested enough in a difficult band to be given some credit for my intelligence. God, I'm getting fussy.

'So Why So Sad' is darkly funny. Uber cinematic, the sight of a beach beauty waving sweetly as soldiers go flying in every direction behind her is pure genius. It's a message, and not a subtle one, but it's entertaining depicted and is probably more effective than Green Day's similar 'Wake Me When September Ends' because it has a sense of humour. The humour of this band has often been lost in everything else but they are clever enough to realise that sometimes the best way to get something across is to be funny.

By contrast 'Ocean Spray' is the opposite, perfectly acted by a man not acting, it rests entirely on James. Bringing out emotion over a backing track when you're not an actor is bloody hard. Any number of melodramatic videos featuring overemoting eyebrows and exaggerated lip movemnts can be found on every music channel. This is the real deal. He's singing about his mother dying and the simple direction, the contrast between internal pain and the rest of the world continuing as usual is almost painful to watch. It works better than the other honest-but-simple video for 'Let Robeson Sing' which fails to get a good visual hook to utilise in its, no doubt, depiction of young American blacks getting on in the arts.

There By The Grace Of God And then the last video. In a Manics-y move the people in the street here are doing their own thing and being ignored. No conversion a la Radiohead's 'Just'. Just people doing their thing regardless of the rest of the world. Remind anyone of any bands?

August 14, 2005

Gold Medal For Paula

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Fucking yeah!

[insert another monologue about the general greatness of Paula Radcliffe]

This year I am definitely getting myself into a race of some description, there's no point having a hero and not even trying to emulate them in some way.

Holly's running – 14/08/05

Currently capable of doing about 3 miles in 30 minutes without completely knackering self. Good but has been standard for about 6 months now.

Plan by December Either be doing do 3 miles consistently in 24 minutes or doing 4 miles in 38 minutes. Tough task…

June 20, 2005

Euro 2005

Well I enjoyed it…

Seriously, I am delighted that the Euro 2005 football championships have gone so well. Ok, so we didn't win, but it was heartening to see it on TV, see it get coverage and spectators, read about it in the papers. Women's football finally getting the press it actually deserves.

I wasn't entirely sure what was going to happen when I heard Euro 2005 was coming to the north west of England. Now coming from there I know the place is full of genuine football fans, many of whom I was sure would give the thing a chance, even if only for the first England game in the, nice and posh, City Of Manchester stadium. However I was also worried that that would be it. One game, a small TV audience, and resounding indifference for the rest.

Granted the tournament has hardly been a huge talking point. But it has definitely gone beyond the pessimistic predictions of some who felt it was not going to penetrate a nation with more pressing matters like Big Brother and the leadership of the Conservative Party (boring). Record women's football TV figures of 2.9 million for the Finland match. Record attendences at the games. And I felt it was entertaining.

Ok ok, so the women are not as skilfull as their male counterparts. But they are, in England in particular, part timers. It's possible to get very good if you are earning millions a year for just practising and playing football, but the England ladies all have to have proper jobs on the side as well. Most male footballers drop out of school when they hit the big time. Eniola Aluko was sitting her A Levels (including History, sensible striker) during the tournament. That's the sort of dedication and non-H*rry K*w*ll style behavious that I like to see. These girls care for the game, not the big money lifestyle.

And how was it that different from the men's game anyway? Germany won. England lost when they really should have done better. A team who were not expected to do well, Finland, did well.

And there was some proper drama and excitement. How about a 17-year-old wonderkid appearing to score a last minute winner? Karen Carney must be the breakthrough of the tournament (though Aluko was promising as well) and to see her reaction to scoring that vital goal was brilliant.

And then there was England's big name, Kelly Smith. Despite having suffered injuries too numerous to mention, she came to the tournament determined to play on. Even a nasty clattering at the hands (feet?) of Denmark was not enough to stop her. What was best about her though was that she is passionate. Whether it's the slightly-more-crunching than the average female player tackles, or the wonderfully funny incident when she cheekily pulled the ponytail of an opponent who had been annoying her, Kelly was one of the most up for it players I saw in the tournament. And anyone who saw the infinite replays of the amazing goal she scored against the Czech Republic (some of whose players I am fairly sure I played against when we went on tour at Easter and played Sparta Prague).

Of course, being a proper football fan (one who spent the entirety of the 2002 men's World Cup sat on the sofa watching it during her As Level study leave (it was raining outside)) I was a bit miffed that the BBC wasn't too arsed about showing the non-England games, especially the semi-finals which I would quite like to have seen more of than some scattered highlights. But I guess a step at a time is the best plan, though I feel that many of the doubters might have had second thoughts about criticising the women's lack of skill after seeing the Germans who defied their male equivilants' general boringness to be quite exciting. Birgit Prinz may have been the archetypal huge name (best player in the world, apparently) who didn't quite spark as bright as she should have, but she was still bloody brilliant. Another player who shone was Finland's keeper Kunnas who was great against pretty much everyone expect England and Germany in the first 15 minutes of that game. As for the other picture below... well I didn't enjoy watching Denmark pull two goals back as England demonstrated that wasting 1-0 leads is a national trait that transcends gender, but I do like this celebration pic and look forward to landing on my own team mates if when we score next year.

In general though I was impressed by the way the media handled it. The BBC and Guardian in particular were very indepth, although the BBC's message boards were host to more than a few derogatory threads by men who were obviously terrified of the thought of women playing their sport. Boys boys boys, we play football and have for years. Deal with it. Naturally it doesn't help when you have Sepp Blatter and Lennart Johansen blathering crap on the sport, though Johansen seems to have been pillioried for being naive in his phrasing rather than a berk like Blatter. Mr Blatter, if I was to play football in mid January in the Midlands wearing the sort of bikini crap you suggested I would in all likelihood be a bit dead by the end. I've already nearly frozen to death whilst wearing trousers, three tops and gloves so I speak from experience. God only knows how the Scottish and Scandanavians would cope.


The BBC did do a good job, but then they usually do. In this house we became particular fans of the pundit Sue Smith for

  1. Being a damn sight more insightful and interesting than 90% of male pundits (yes, I am looking at you, Mr Alan 'zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz' Shearer).
  2. Getting progressively Scouse-er throughout the tournament till I was sure she was going to refer to Gavin 'look at my facial hair' Peacock as "Gaz-man" before nicking his hubcaps and running through Manchester screaming "how many European Cups did you win this year?" Sound.
  3. Being nice about Rachel Yankey and Karen Carney even though they kept her out of the England squad (she's a winger for Leeds Utd).
  4. Having the best hair.

So there it was. I was gutted that my arse of an exam timtable meant I couldn't go to a single England game. But I really think it's been great, and England's team, being ridiculously young should be up for the world cup in two years, though as it's in China getting to the games might be a bit of a problem. At least I know how to get to Warrington on the cheap.

One last photo. The fact this is of the women's game is irrelevant. It's just a picture which I really liked and which completely resonates with anyone who has ever dared to be a keeper and suffered that horrible moment of a goal that should not have been crossing the line, doing so. Ouch.

Oh, and this is funny.

April 17, 2005

How Cool Is This Woman?

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Ok let's get this straight.

  • Paula Radcliffe suffers nasty Olympics but instead of wobbling away and never touching a marathon ever again she goes straight back to running every marathon under the sun.

  • Paula then wins the New York marathon 11 weeks later.

  • Then just to add a touch of genius to the situation, today she wins the London marathon in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 41 seconds (five minutes ahead of second place) despite having to stop halfway for a wee.

  • Paula Radcliffe used her amazing running powers to run away from the town of her birth- Northwich. If you have ever been to, lived in or had to go to school in Northwich you will understand.

That is all.

December 18, 2004

Design For Life

"If you're not to keen on going out but you do anyway, those are the best nights out ever" Spanky, 2004

I have an infection which manifested it self as a medium sized and painful to touch lump. Fine, except it popped up in my armpit. When you have a family history of breast cancer this is possibly the least amusing place to find a painful lump at 2am on a Wednesday morning. No sleep then, and straight to the doctor's at 8am to get told it was an infection and I needed more powerful drugs. I got a HC2 form last December. It's a little beauty which entitles its student holder to free perscriptions (as well as dental treatments and eye tests). Get one. I'd be broke now if I hadn't had mine.

Anyway, the drugs are giving me awful indigestion. I mean really really bad. So, unable to move without burping and unable to burp without feeling sick, I didn't really want to go out tonight. But I was even mmore unwilling to waste £26 which I had spent on a ticket… to see the Manic Street Preachers. Now I always see the Manics, every year, and I am not missing them for anything as lame as some side effects.

Now at risk of dribbling on like a teenage girl at a Busted concert, they were absolutelyfuckingunbelievablyamazinglygreat! Support act Razorlight were good value, even if their singer had to run off stage at one point to "cough up blood", and this got me going. Forgetting the desire to burp/vomit wasn't easy (especially as I'd had to dose myself up again on the train on the way there) but I did.

The MEN Arena is not a great venue. It's a big soulless barn which hosts England international netball matches and Ronan Keating concerts. I am indisposed towards it and have been since I was forced to sit through a set by Toploader there once against my will (the price I paid for wanting to see Idlewild and Catatonia). It's cold and you wouldn't want to be sitting as the seating is miles from the stage. We were standing. Phew.

Lights up, an intro track starts. The big, impressive visuals kick off. And then they're there. James looks like James as ever. Sean looks like the lead singer of Embrace. Nicky's wearing tight trousers and a big leopard print fur coat. Mmm, nice…
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next Argh, I love this one. It soudsn huge which in a barn like the MEN takes some doing. But the sound is nice and clear. Ok, I'll give the MEN that. The screen shows those disturbing people with no faces from the song's video. Weird.
Faster Wooooooo! Loud and angry. Spirit of '94. The moshpit is bouncing but I still don't feel up to it yet.
1985 New one. Kyle turns to me and says "you were born in 1985". I was born in 1984. He should know this as he's my brother. Awesome visuals including big scary Margerat Thatcher shot. Traumatised.
No Surface All Feeling James fluffs the intro. Twice, once verbally and once on the guitar riff. Sounds really massive though. Finally a song fills the MEN.
You Love Us Cocky buggers but they are right. I attempt some minor boucing and don't burp my brains out. Promising.
Cardiff Afterlife Very poignant and obvious track about Richey. Audience subdues as it is throughout some of the new stuff.
Yes Dedicated to Razorlight. Copious swearing and a big sing–along. Nice.
Kevin Carter Kyle's favourite song. I talk him out of lobbing his packet of crisps across the crowd. Not sure why as he was planning to throw them unopened. Kyle debates whether he should ring his mate Carter, but decides not to. Mild dancing. I feel fine.
The Love Of Richard Nixon A popular new one. Sounds very good live. Nice bassline but the MEN's big problem is the bass can only be heard not felt. I want to feel the bass. That's why I learned to play it myself.
La Tristesse Durera Strangely subdued, I've heard this one done better.
Die In The Summertime Very loud. Kyle is impressed, he doesn't know this one and quizzes me about it. Conclusion: heavy=good. He's such a bloke.
Solitude Sometime Is One of my least favourite tracks off the new album. Sounds better live but I don't know the words so big sing–along Holly is not in evidence.
Australia This is more like it. Jumping around now, no problems. Drugs and side effects completely forgotten.
Archives Of Pain (acoustic) Probably one of the least likely songs to play acoustic ever. No one's entirely sure what to make of it but we like it.
Small Back Flowers That Grow In The Sky (acoustic) I agree with the girls stood behind us who were gazing into space, arms around each other. This was haunting stuff. Truly great and even those people who obviously only knew the singles (and were a bit scared by Die In The Summertime and Yes) were captivated.
You Stole The Sun From My Heart Proper jumping around now. Nicky had by now changed into something more comfortable, a plain white top and a pink, fluffy miniskirt. He showed this sartorial masterpiece off by high kicking his way across a speaker stack. Nice underpants, Nicky. Considered calling Housemate:Els during this song as she once sent me a very bizarre text incorporating lyrics from this song but I forget cos I'm having too much fun.
This Is Yesterday A nice slow one but we want to be jumping round now.
Empty Souls Gorgeous new single rendered strangely flat. The first time the MEN effect kicks in and neither subtlety nor volume can be discerned. Disappointed as I like this one.
Tsunami Woooooooo! Rock on! I unleash the Holly dancing. This is basically just me jerking round like an idiot and jumping occasionally. I once pulled a muscle doing this at Top Banana and suffered for a week through football matches and training without admitting why I was hurt.
I Live To Fall Asleep After teasing with a snatch of Sleepflower they play this instead. The audience noticably would have preferred Sleepflower but this will do.
Motorcycle Emptiness Now here's a song which can't go wrong. Brilliant and thay play the long version which is still not long enough. Everyone's bellowing along now. And why not, this is their second best song and let's face it, their best song is my favourite song ever and, oh look, here it is…
Design For Life Call Niamh and leave this on her answerphone. Awesome. Completely brilliant. Singing along, jumping like a loon. I would sit through Toploader and Ronan Keating to hear this live. Go home completely ecstatic. Rock on.

Marks? Seems a bit, y'know, pointless and… 10/10


August 23, 2004

Paula Radcliffe

Actually y'know what, my previous entry led me off on a mental tangent. No, no, don't worry this isn't train related. It's Radcliffe related. And I'm still gutted even today.

Paula Radcliffe is one of my heroes. Most long distance runners are heroes to me and for generally good reasons. And as the greatest female long distance runner of all time, Paula is top of the pile. Don't judge her on this Athens race. I've seen her run races that would make most others runners gasp.

So why long distance runners? Well take a look at the spinters. Muscle bound, hulking super humans with biceps that would make melons look puny in comparison. Both genders. They accelerate and BANG! They're gone, you could never hope to catch them. They're fast and exciting and they take drugs (except the ones that don't… legal arse covering). But isn't that just a little, I don't know, detached?

This is why football is more popular than polo. It's easier to be like Rooney then like some polo player (Prince Charles). And I prefer long distance runner cos it's easier to be one than a sprinter, at least for me it is. Where else am I going to find women in athletics who are physically like me? Tall, skinny, muscle free, flat chested and looking like they are in absolute agony with every step they take. I like Paula cos she looks like she's struggling and human and that's why what happened in Athens only makes me like her more. She's one of us. Steroids and other nasty drugs ruining the sprints don't work on long distance runners (although EPO does).

Anyone can run 100m but those charity fundraising runs are they over 100m? Nope. They are over long distances 5km, 10km or marathon length. It's in the world of long distance that an unknown like my dad can even consider running the big events, in his case the London marathon, as a competitor. For the record my dad never qualified as fast enough to run the competitive London marathon but he came close. When I run 100m in 22 seconds (my personal best which nearly killed me), ie in over twice the time of a proper athlete, it still feels like a disheartening failure. But to run a marathon in the same proportion (about 5hrs) would be amazing and an achievement to me. It may even be possible.

So there you are. I like long distance runners. Maybe you don't. Maybe you like sprinters. Or long jumpers. Or hurdlers. Or hammer throwers… does anyone like hammer throwers?

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