They make you go through the electronic application process, which is just diabolical. I want to scrawl all over it "I've been *doing* most of the effing job for three years, what more do you people want?" However, that might be seen as career seppuku. I've already been stupidly lairy on the staff questionnaire this week then had serious second thoughts of the "what if they know who filled this in" kind.
Sarcasm is no good to your employers, only to your colleagues. I never learn.
So, because I am a very good daughter (not to mention a
It was in a tiny space, only slightly more than a studio, with the front row comprised of tables and chairs as though you really were in a slightly down-at-heel nightclub. I was worried that it might shade into the camp panto arena and turn into a festival of cheesy nods and winks to the audience but it was actually more mildly filthy than camp. It was also one of the tenderest portrayals of a long-term relationship I've ever seen. They had six dancers, five of whom were among the most beautiful men I have ever seen. There's something tremendously erotic about beautiful men, moving beautifully) in make-up and tutus.
(Oh all right, it's just me then. I don't care. I'll be the one in the corner of the pub, enticing the slightly pervy dandyish men with the promise that they can have a borrow of my massacre and eyeliner.)
Anyway, the point of this is that I bought ma dinner at the Chocolate Factory and then we had to wait in the bar for the doors to open. There's a scrum in there and I look over to my left, and about three feet away, there's a small figure dressed in black with a bloody stupid black hat on. Indoors. "Look at that silly bugger with a hat on indoors," I think to myself. Then something goes ::ping:: in my head and I look away sharpish.
I went all 1930s spy and whispered in my mum's ear through gritted teeth: "Eight o'clock from you, there's Helen Mirren".
"Who?" she delicately shrieks.
"Helen Mirren" I say, not moving my mouth like some kind of mad ventriloquist, trying to give off 'under no circumstances should you turn around and stare, then say something very loud' vibes
Mum looks around in a way which is the opposite of subtle and says: "It never is"
So I am all googly eyed at mum, doing the mime version of "Sssssh, be cool!"
"It bloody *is* Helen Mirren," I say
My mum looks around *again* and says "Nah, she's too young"
May I remind you, Helen Mirren is within touching distance at that point but was probably quite pleased to find out that a Yorkshirewoman thinks she's too young to be herself. And it was Helen Mirren. She's shorter than I had thought and very beautiful but in an ordinary sort of way. It's the camera that makes her look exceptional I think. She looks about 40ish. And keeps her hat on until the lights go down but who can blame her? She was on her own. There were also a couple of actresses from the telly but I don't know what they're called except one of them played Connie on Spooks last season.
The run of the musical is sold out but if anyone offers you tickets, go. It's tremendous. It could have been horrible but it avoids all the pitfalls.
* * *
I've been listening to a lot of King Creosote lately, which is the name of a Fife fellow who is a bit like Badly Drawn Boy, only better IMO. You can listen to a podcast of him here, if you can bear the other yattering.
He compares being part of a well-functioning band to conjuring a patronus! I draw wee sparkly hearts around his name!
Anyway, I've only got two of his zillions of albums but I do love them. This is my favourite track of his, a poem set as a lament: The Racket They Made
And your words chased round and round in my head
They chased their own tales
And your words jigged round my mind all night
To look at me now, I’m quiet as sand
And the tide shrinks back into its womb
And I hope the empty shells and bones of your stories
Will litter and clutter the shores
And I hope that when I find them
I’ll remember how they danced
And the racket they made
When they were alive
Bloody gorgeous And because one King Creosote track is not enough:
Jump At The Cats About the joys of leaping naked at domestic pets.
You've No Clue Do You An angry rocker
Admiral An extended sea-faring metaphor but in a good way
If you get the chance, buy some of his stuff, please. He's glorious and obscure and probably needs the money.
* * *
I didn't really want to talk about Ashes to Ashes the first few episodes. Part of it was because I wasn't too sure it was wise to try to continue the Life on Mars conceit and partly because I didn't much like it.
I've seen Keeley Hawes in other things, notably "Spooks" but it was hard to shake off the sense that she was the Poundstretcher Keira Knightley in the first few, exposition-heavy episodes. They gave her such a huge freight of backstory to carry that she staggered under the weight of it. In contrast, John Simm, whose Sam Tyler was initially an everyman, was an run of the mill, slightly stuffed shirt copper, brought up by his mum after his dad ran off. All very ordinary.
Alex Drake is not just an ordinary copper: she's a forensic psychologist; she's a single mother; her parents were murdered when she was at school, in the year she has ended up in; she was shot; she knows about Gene Hunt from interviewing Sam (let's leave aside the question of what a Met plod was doing interviewing Greater Manchester's finest). She's got layers and layers of story gubbins, and meta gubbins and a tough act to follow in John Simm. It's all too much to pile onto one actor and expect her to carry it with total success.
When you add in the fact that very few Britons my age +/– 10 years have much affection for the Thatcher-blighted, greed-is-good, "loadsamoney" 80s and it's an unappealing package. There's not the distance nor so much of the Kia-Ora hued glow of nostalgia that attends the 70s. In fact the 70s were just as shite, it's just that we don't remember it so well. Instead of being an expose of 70s sexism, racism and homophobia that allows you to retain affection for the central figures, it's more about the horrible sexism, racism and homophobia and the way that the police were turned into the instruments of state brutality that I remember from my early-mid teens. It's hard to feel affection for police officers in that period. There's a bitterness for me about the 80s that there isn't when it's about the 70s. It also sometimes feels like they're enjoying writing the monsters too much.
However, Ashes to Ashes is starting to grow on me. The love-hate chemistry between Hunt and Drake that made me sigh when I read about it in the papers does actually work. The fabulous title sequence is ripped off wholesale from that of Cat's Eyes, if memory serves. The 80s jokes are excellent, such as the visit to Blitz in 1981 in which Steve Strange was an extra and Alex left her coat with Boy George. Gene Hunt seems wearier but funnier -- and as others have noted, he's appearing in scenes independently of Alex, so either (a) there's some reason behind that, maybe this is Gene's brain or (b) they're not as smart as they were in Life On Mars.
Also, I've read one too many protesting review which sounded too much like "Ugh, Keeley Hawes is getting her terrible *girl parts* into my slashy, slashy show", which made me think right then, I am going to watch this bloody thing even if it sucks just out of solidarity with the producers for putting a woman at the centre of the show.
I am going to write Gene Hunt/Alex Drake PWP and post it in the LJs of anyone who posts the merest hint of "ugh, girls are ruining my show" and then I am going to laugh and dance around my room in the all together, save for a few strategically placed slices of tomato, playing the spoons!
Or something (not much) like that anyway.
As expected, the soundtrack is completely fabulous. Very reliant on Roxy Music so far. One choice was genius, they played out the end of the first episode, as comment on the main characters' feelings, on the start of the new series, on the time period and on a meta level.
It's The Same Old Scene, by Roxy Music, which I have provided for your aural delectation. Reasons it is brilliant, aside from purely musical ones:
(a) Lyrically, it's a message to watchers, just as much as the testcard girl in LoM "Nothing lasts forever/of that I am sure ... Maybe you should try the same old scene" It's the makers saying "the old days are gone, here's something new but old"
(b) It's from 1980 but it harks back to the 1970s, as well as presaging what would come in 1982-83. Roxy Music were of course big in the early 70s but this song is clearly heavily disco influenced, with that Chic-like bassline and the shimmering strings and chittering guitar. In the next couple of years Duran Duran are going to be using the same template to create their best music -- Chic bassline, extravagant yet synth-laden production, rather louche lyrics (when they were comprehensible, that is; I haven't forgotten "Union of The Snake", Mr Le Bon)
(c) It makes sense for the characters, back in the wine bar at the end of the case, lines of truce temporarily drawn.
God, I love this song
* * *
This is a live cover of Snow Patrol's Run, done by Leona Lewis, who won The X Factor by dint of actual talent rather than a cute bottom and a cheeky chappy smile. I tend to think it exposes the limitations of Gary Lightbody's songwriting rather more than makes me happy. Cunning production and lots of guitars usually hides that pretty well (see also Chasing Cars, which only has four bloody notes in it).
Even if you never listen to it again, it's worth sticking it on and listening until 3:48 when she goes all proper diva over the chorus. That bit made the hairs on my arms stand up the first time I heard it.
* * *
My favourite album of last year I heard by accident. Soulwax's remixes album is terrific, and among its best tracks is this one, a six-minute version of Gravity's Rainbow by Klaxons.
The original is horrible, messy, clanky, pretentious, wikipedia-driven bollocks and if you can explain to me how Klaxons won the Mercury music prize I will buy you a pint because they are hideous indiekid emperor's new clothes shite. Why this is not shite:
(a) No song which begins with electronic cowbells is shite. Fact.
(b) Listen to that inexorable beat, and then it gets better with that twangy topline that comes in at 0:44 which is so artificial it is MADE OF E NUMBERS. MIGHTY AND AWESOME E NUMBERS
(c) Then at one minute in, they introduce the synth figure from the original song
(d) FALSETTO VOCALS!
(e) At 1:40 a brief snatch of the low duhrduhduhr sound -- beloved of early 90s Belgian rave, of which I am a sort-of fan -- this will be important later. Just enough to make you smell the Vicks and want to give a complete stranger a hug.
(f) 2:40 -- second iteration of the chorus which has that terrific slamming bassline that's so reminiscent of Higher State of Consciousness by Josh Wink
(g) WE REACH AWESOMENESS CENTRAL RIGHT AT 3:30 - the duhrduduhr synth sound mentioned above slides out of sync with the drums and then SLIDES BACK INTO SYNC in a way which is wondrous and it heralds a moment of SHEER MAGNIFICENCE at 4:04 where it just goes SWOOOOOSH! and you're back into the driving dance track, all euphoric
(h) and then, when you think it cannot get any better, when it has reached the apogee of awesome, the zenith of fabulousness, AT 4.20, IT GETS BETTER. THEY DO THE PRETENDY CAR-ZOOMING-BY THING. AND IT IS NOT CHEESY!
(i) Then, just to put the cherries on top of the ravey ravey gateau, THE COWBELL IS BACK.
(j) At 5.20, fresh awesomesauce, when they introduce a lovely plinky-plonky chittering synth figure, along with a Close Encounters style six-note figure, and then repeat the words of the chorus (which are not that good to be honest but they work with this track)
If it does not make you want to dance, you are probably clinically dead. (Or, you know, not a fan of European dance music. We all have our blind spots)
And finally, for cazling, if she doesn't have it already, an excellent version of Hot Chip's Ready for the Floor (Soulwax remix) From the same completely fan-tas-tic album.