You sexy little swine…

fishingWhilst I was in London in 2010 I worked with a fantastic group of people. Sadly we were mismanaged by a selfish, chauvinistic, egotistical gobbler. Here was a man of 50, perving and passing comments on my friends, wearing Lyle and Scott polos, humming Rhi Rhi (his reference not mine) with the nerve to placate others on their appearance! Oh won’t someone think of the children.

The irony defaming someone on a blog is not lost on me. Especially since I sincerely believe his behaviour was the dividend from a rich portfolio of insecurities. As I have joined the ranks of the “keyboard warriors” I will satisfy my appetite and indulge, don’t like it? As you were.

I enjoy razzing. Like most I enjoy the cut and thrust of getting a rise out of someone – simply for kicks…my mum used to say when I was a kid:

‘you give it you have to be able to take it.’ This was generally her retort when someone had trumped me in a tussle of the tongues or United had been beaten, thankfully when I was growing up this wasn’t very often.

Back in the office I remember saying to Clive;

“You taking that inflatable FA Cup down seen as though you were the FA Cup holders in 2010 Clive?” “No” “Only as good as your last game, good manager Moyes”

Chelski had just been beaten 1-0 at Goodison in 2011. This predates Moyes at the helm of the Titanic, Christ that would have been a bloodbath had I still worked with him.

I know, you couldn’t write it could you. A Chelsea fan, give him his dues he was far from plastic. Once reminiscing over lunch, he had my ears bleeding with a story of him as a runner back in the 70s with his Uncle.

For those of you unfamiliar with a ‘runner’. A runner is the bait at pre-arranged fights between ‘firms’. Present tense you will notice, this still happens sadly, thankfully less so these days. A firm consists of impressionable attention seeking dickheads that tarnish the beautiful game through promoting and engaging in violence. I nearly wrote the ‘H’ word . I refuse to award them their coveted badge of honour, mugs.

Clive was the lead of our team at Lloyds and we were made well aware we worked for him . We took our medicine a lot; nothing says bend over and touch your toes like the corporate world does it. Not being arsed I remember thinking. I’ll pay lip service that is all Christophe.

Chris my Manager was writing one of my performance objectives “create and expand relationship with Clive”. The fucking bastard. I would not tolerate him anywhere but the office, okay at a push on a work night out, for one pint nothing more. I would pretend as needs must but did not have the appetite or bottle at this point to do the right thing and call him out. Every day was like selling Lucifer another slither.

One hazy Tuesday I walked into the office late as per, having spent the weekend in Germany with some pals, we had been to the Hurricane Festival. The Arctic Monkeys were headlining so it was nailed on my mate was working in Hamburg at the time. As our friends in Trumpland say, no brainer.

As I approached my desk half wondering if it was the onset of tinnitus and jaundice, I overheard Clive peacocking – this time on the subject of music.  “Now, my favourite of all time…it’s tough but I would have to say U2” Makes sense I thought to myself. He supports a plastic football team listens to a plastic front man. What U2 did for Sarajevo I will always respect but favourite of all time, you pulling my plonker Clive? Come on at least try you prick.

I opened my laptop and started to line up my glasses of water for the day, I had more important things to think about here like lunch. He went on…

“You know what I never got, all the hype with the Arctic Monkeys, who the fuck were they anyway?” Touche Clive, touche old boy. I looked up at Chris, he widened his eyes instantly conveying ‘Oi you little shit, you hold your tongue he pays for us.’  Lucifer this thick slice is on the house.

Neck recoiled eyes down. Chris interjected sensing the golden opportunity to cast the line out, “I think David might have something to say about that Clive…”, smiling like a cat with all the cream. “Oh David are you are a fan? Well maybe you could educate me  one day, I doubt it though…”, he smiled deliberately, don’t bite… “I will send you some songs one time Clive no problem and a few explanations if you want, I grew up listening to them”, I smiled back, my hangover retreating as my adrenaline levels charged.

I sat at my laptop for the next few days on his time and wrote my explanation complete with a very extensive rather boring account of stories from my not so fluorescent adolescence, to give him some context. It was for no other reason when I look back than to make myself feel better. As we came to the end of our contract I asked Clive for his personal email to keep in touch for football purposes. If he was ever at Old Trafford for a game obviously. I would rather chop my cock off.  I wanted to send him what I had written and it was not really a great idea to send it to his work email as my beer money was at risk. I sent it to his personal email address on my last day. As I walked past him fantasising about smashing his head through the Chelsea team on his wall. I relaxed and wrapped myself in the warm fuzzy cloak of one up-man-ship.

Similar to the one you get when you see some dickhead undertake you on the motorway at 120. Only to pass him OR HER parked 2 miles down the road on the hard shoulder. Not in their car now but the back of an unmarked Volvo V70 as you sail past pipping your horn putting your foot down. Below is the email I sent to Clive.

About 13 years ago a group of young lads in Sheffield decided to get their hands on some musical instruments. Typical items for a group of young men with creative flare and interest in music. At the same time in a different part of South Yorkshire I was starting to take an interest in the dancing dots myself.

You may or may not have ever felt the desire for an instrument Clive. Chances are though at some point in your youth you wanted something to express your personality or to pass the time. You may have considered yourself a budding sportsman, maybe you still do? You may have asked your parents for a violin, a pair of footy boots, the latest edition of vogue or some dancing shoes you sexy little swine. My first request was a dishevelled box of wood that barely held a note, a gift that made my Christmas back in 1997.

I practiced my piano enough when football and the Holy Grail weren’t on the agenda. At points I used to consider myself half decent but in all honesty my heart was never really in it. What I didn’t like about the Piano was in order to learn  in my small town; I had to take direction from an out of hour’s music teacher. She was as inspirational as a cloudy day. In it for all the wrong reasons. One lesson with my piano teacher I did manage to take away some wisdom. I learned to be a good musician above all else you needed to discover and develop a unique style and sound. Once you have this you could then compliment it by an infinite range of scales, in my case simplified versions of Beethoven’s Concertos if you wanted or vice versa. Finally as I left my last lesson the penny dropped, don’t get taught teach yourself. People don’t do psychology for kicks do they?

Learn the instrument, yours and its capabilities, the nuts and bolts to the theory then progress. I never did. What I was never able to do was produce anything that I could call my own. I eventually tired of imitation and found a good substitute for my musical interest – heading out and listening to bands touring the North. Off I’d trot with my merry men to The Lead Mill in Sheffield, The Cock Pit in Leeds, occasionally frequenting the Apollo in Manchester and very rarely paying a visit to Nottingham’s Rock City. This overshadowed regurgitating the Moonlight Sonata seventeen times a week. I listened to anything and everything my Mini Disc would serve up to me on the school bus, slowly the piano became a graveyard for family photos and my ambition faded as the dust thickened.

The Vines, Hot Hot Heat, The Strokes, The White Stripes all favourites of ours. At a time when others my age were listening to the morsels being produced by the recording studios of the rich and famous. My mates and I were hot on the heels of anything our generation was producing that wasn’t mainstream echo. I was 17 and the bands I was interested in were that little bit older but I enjoyed their offerings and I knew at least in part, where they were coming from.

I fell in love with the Libertines. The Man Who Would Be King is a corker.  I can still jump myself into frenzy, sing my heart out and be 17 again for 4 minutes . This song was the song that connected the tall lad I’d seen on telly wearing a trilby and myself. The guy stood on stage bleeding charisma, singing lyrics that I thought possibly I understood?

 

Jack drinks and smokes his cares away

His heart is in a lonely way

Living in the ruins

Of a castle built on sand

 

I didn’t understand. For all I knew Pete Doherty if the tabloids were to be believed was a crack addict with a mere drinking problem, his logic and mine probably differed somewhat…what did I care? He could sing and play with his mate Carl and write songs for a generation.

For me ‘The Man Would Be King’ is a song about the actions of a ‘Jack the Lad’. A drinker, a smoker, a charmer, a self-pleaser in life preferred to the alternative. Eventually unchallenged Jack will pay the consequences but the risky house on sand has always been more fun than the predictable one built on rock. He will live with his decision. Don’t toe the line snort it.

From my friend introducing me to the Libertines, they have always been a band I have listened to and followed. I met Pete Doherty in the street one time when I was studying at Newcastle and he was a friendly unassuming guy, willing to have a photo with me (which I subsequently lost). This was at a time when revelations on his private life were painting the front pages of the tabloids. Other bands who I called my own were Queens of The Stone Age, The Cribs and The Stills.

Music I grew up with, music that means a lot to me, music that provided a soundtrack to my youth. The Libertines were four top lads, pouring their heart and soul into every song, every performance and every line. They would sing about their shortcomings, their experiences, their opinions, their girls, their mates. Doing what they wanted following their heart – sometimes this was not always obvious however, it was the music.

At the time the Libertines started making bigger waves I had turned 18, I had just finished school and I had one aim in the summer to watch them play live for the first time. I remember jumping the train to London four beers in tow with one of my closest friends John. A friend of ours once overheard his dad rechristen John ‘The Prince of Fools’ at an early age, to this day he still lives up to his noble title somehow managing to have a respectable and so far successful career.

On the way to the Libertine’s gig in London back in 2003, John and I sat between the carriages in first class, I was without ticket and fortunately managed to get to London with the fare still in my pocket. ‘Forgive me you wouldn’t believe me if I told you I can’t find my ticket’ you’ve heard it all before; the usual persistent patter.

Our motivation for the journey was earlier in the week we had heard on the grape vine that there was a secret Libertines gig being played somewhere in the sprawling concrete jungle that is London. Wow. Our arrival into the capital only came about thanks to a frightening Glaswegian Train Guard who took pity on us; I think he knew we were in for a shock once we alighted. I hope he took pleasure in forgetting to explain to us that Doncaster was simply a small mining town in South Yorkshire. A rather amusing show was performed by John once we had negotiated the fare. Having only recently returned from Thailand he had a screwed up pair of Thai Boxing Shorts in his bag. He handed me his can “off for a piss”. A few moments later as I looked down the train from between two carriages, there he was in all his glory shadow boxing down the aisle in just the shorts.  

Later in the day we found the venue after sampling a few watering holes en route. With a few quid between us in loose change secure in our spray on jeans, it was time for operation doorman. Like the recurring monotony of Countryfile on a Sunday evening the thick set cockney threw 6 darts in our direction, collectively they made up a sentence we had been getting familiar with in recent months.

“Your names not down, fuck off.”

Shit. We very quickly used every weapon in our limited armoury convincing bouncers in Donny we were 18; sadly this was not enough of an education to talk our way in. We were out of our depth. If we were treading water back home surviving we were tied to a boulder the size of our over inflated egos in The Smoke – the Glaswegian’s pity was not misplaced. Stood surrounded by the impending nightfall we were slowly sinking to the sea bed. That’s it? That’s a night out in London? That’s what they all go on about? Bollocks.

Saner heads prevail. We decided to assess our options and climb aboard the safety raft, the battle was definitely lost but there was a war being fought. Luckily my brother had a mate who was down in London getting a Visa for the States – don’t buy a ticket you aint winning the raffle kid. We made a fist of it between the 3 of us, stayed in his B&B, met a couple of local girls and had a night we couldn’t remember before making our way back North the next day. It was a distant first loser to missing the Boys in the Band play a set to 200 fans but, you get can only play the hand you are dealt.

Shortly before starting university in 2004, I travelled to the states too coaching ‘Soccer’ for a few months. Meanwhile back in God’s own County there was a storm in a teacup brewing; four lads I in High Green had stuck to their task with and were realising their potential as I was touring California. The summer and remaining months of 2004 which saw me start university were over and I was left with the taste of diesel in my mouth, and the emptiness only a maxed out Over Draft could provide £1497.60 DR. Avail £0. Shame.

Whilst I was brushing up on my economics and drinking prowess Alex David Turner the lead singer and guitarist of the newly founded Arctic Monkeys was working at the Boardwalk in Sheffield.

A venue popular with local musicians, music lovers and scenesters since before my birth, under its former name ‘The Black Swan’ or ‘Mucky Duck’ had been visited by The Sex Pistols and The Clash in another lifetime – not to be sniffed at.

Taking every opportunity to promote the band back then Alex, Matt, Andy and Jamie were burning CDs, handing them out free after gigs, waxing lyrical wherever there was an unsuspecting ear. They encouraged file sharing! Heaven forbid. MySpace and Limewire became their vehicles and it was their unique music, initiative and an unwavering work ethic that would break the mould.

By now it was too late for me; I was already settling into my impression and getting comfy. Slowly but surely the quiet hum surrounding the Arctic Monkeys was becoming a noticeable buzz. The mark was beginning to be made by the band and the news of their impending success was spreading faster than the latest STI across the North East

On starting university still 19; The Libertines were sadly on their way down following their much anticipated second album, which I thought was sensational. Sample bias. This album though wasn’t enough to prevent their big red button being pressed, in my opinion their unprofessionalism was the pin that eventually unpicked their success. The Killers, Maximo Park and Razorlight were now filling the space on the air waves. Jo Wiley was being her usual predictable beige self. How this woman made a career without disliking anything is beyond me.

By early 2005 the monotony of the University DJs had set in like dry rot. Even after a pitcher of Voddie Red Bull ‘Mr Brightside’ was somehow getting worse, compounded by each overplay. This continued and First Year was over in an explosion of friendships, emotion and boredom. The best result looking back was my introduction to the musical giant sleeping 100 miles down the A1.

In the lonely summer that followed first year I worked off my overdraft back home as a post boy in a lighting factory; I would do 8:30 – 4:30 Monday to Friday, it was the epitome of Groundhog Day. The Brucie though was being able to earn enough money to purchase a ticket for Leeds Festival in August. 

Having enjoyed listening to the Arctic Monkeys that summer I was anticipating a strong debut. In the build-up I recall Noel Gallagher’s typically arrogant summary whilst being a guest on Wiley’s show ‘any band with a name like that won’t win any Brits or Grammys?’ I remember thinking that is fighting talk Mr Gallagher, considering your creativity reached its zenith in the mid-90s, his opinion was neither respected nor accurate.

Having visited the fields of Leeds since 2001 the line-up for 2005 was as impressive as the previous years. Despite the annual riots, tent torching and overpriced crap lager it was always worth the 130 quid to go. With a line up boasting headline acts Iron Maiden and the Foo Fighters, you had to try especially hard not to overlook the local act pencilled in on the Carling Stage after the Mystery Jets.

Don’t believe the hype…

Fortunately my brother and I didn’t miss their slot. Unfortunately half of Bramham Park were on it too. I thought as we arrived at the edge of the tent I might as well have been watching from the beer tent. I couldn’t see fuck all and although they sounded decent I was too far back to really get involved. Even pissed up, brimming with excitement we tried in vain to make an in road into the wall of leathered pogo sticks. Everyone in the crowd as determined as us and no ground would be surrendered.

I remember casualties being carried out of the tent every 2 minutes; one guy suffering from heat exhaustion, a few others had lost a shoe in the mayhem, shirts had been ripped and lives changed. Everyone close enough to witness the set were beaming having been there for the coming of age of the biggest band the Steel City had produced since Jarvis Cocker gave birth to Pulp. The torch paper had been well and truly lit.

If nothing else, you have to thank The Arctic Monkeys on successive occasions for stemming the tide of manufactured talentless shit relentlessly staining the bowl. As much as you flush you only find it to be replaced by JLS, Westlife, One Direction, Bieber or whoever the next faceless puppets are waiting in line to pick up the cheques from the parents of our impressionable kids. Music to Hoover to. 

With bare minimum marketing and advertising, here we had back in 2003 / 2004 / 2005 a quartet of musicians rewriting the rule book in the face of the money machine. Back then at Leeds they were lighting up a rock festival whilst the greats sat in their trailers sipping on mineral water and practising their lines. They have undoubtedly earnt a few quid themselves in their time and good luck to them. They deserve it.

I admire them Clive because they made it on their own terms and put their music as the catalyst to their success, not the reverse. I salute them because they sing and play how they see it and I can relate having emerged from a similar time and place.

Finally I adore the lyrics of Alex Turner, my age or thereabouts. Here was a lad at 17 who refused to go quietly into the night following discussions with his 6th form career counsellors and parents. A lad, who can write, who understands language, is in touch with the experience of his mates and clever enough to articulate it all in a way that is accessible to all and sundry. Combine that with someone who can write a good tune to match with his mates, a high level of technical ability, ambition and wait for it love of what he does and you are onto a winner.

There are no flowers in his love songs, no utopias in his relationships. Raw emotion dominates. I cannot help but be moved by his song writing and melodies. The whole band took a chance to follow their hearts, with the talent of a thousand writers and musicians my world is a better place for this gamble.

That’s what I’m not  was the fastest selling debut album in UK chart history before Miss Boyle emerged. Outselling 2nd to 20th combined in the first week it was released. So that was September 2006. What have they done since? Well between breaking America, filling their dustbin with a whole host of recognised awards they have managed to stay true to their ideals, their fans and their selves. Opinion or not that deserves respect does it not Clive?

They have produced single after single, EP after EP and Album after Album in an effortless display of character and poise. Songs that make me stand up and shout, smile, frown, laugh and contemplate to. Songs that have made countless people question my sanity and the sanity of my mates on a night out.

One of my favourites is Suck it and See. The album not the porno.

Have a listen. You will live longer. You will lose weight. None of this is of this is of course true. You might however appreciate the feelings he has for the protagonist. You may even be tricked into believing the hype of 2005 if you listen carefully enough because what was exceptional then still applies Clive.

Yes you can be forgiven for disregarding The Arctic Monkeys because your mate told you they’re crap. The simple truth might be you haven’t earned an opinion because instead of listening and making your own judgement. You like so many others have sat back and had the opinion of others shoved down your throat like a Foie Gras Goose at Christmas.

If you don’t like them I tip my hat bid you good day and thank my lucky stars I am not you. Obviously my opinion is worth less than zero at best like yours is and sadly even sheep are entitled to one. If I’m making a statement though here it is – Oscar Wilde bless his soul has nothing on this boys tongue and combined with their music they are simply untouchable.

The way every poignant gut wrenching point of break up in Do Me a Favour is described is frighteningly accurate. If you have ever been there and let’s be honest we all have. How do you resist being transported back for a split second, having to relive the moment, the moment when you crossed the thin line between love and hate and you couldn’t bear the thought of her doing the unthinkable. ‘Perhaps F*** off might be too kind’.

Overplayed but underrated I BetYou Look Good On The Danceflooris the perfect reference point for anyone that has played Russian Roulette with the pretty girl in a club clinging to sobriety and pride with one hand whilst reaching for her on the dance floor with the other.

BiggerBoys with Stolen Sweethearts – maybe this was just me growing up with my mates but this is a snapshot in time and I for one can remember quite clearly the older lads rolling up in their new minis and turning the heads of our girls.

The cows will quite simply will be home if I go down the route of analysing all songs line by line however forgive me for indulging in one more before you nod off. 

2006 became 2011 very quickly and now we are in 2016. Good music has remained not a fad or a fashion but a valuable commodity always at risk of being forgotten or going unheard in the face of the latest targeted campaign being served up to us all on the advertising space we pass every day. In a 5 year period, 4 albums were produced, there has been a change in personnel amongst other developments but I have to go back to a song included on the EP released shortly after the first album to demonstrate the pure brilliance of the Monkeys. 

In recent weeks I have had to defend my honour and that of the Arctic Monkeys in the face of some others and of course you Clive;

Whatever happened to them?

I couldn’t name you one song.

I didn’t get it what were they all about?

Not forgetting my own personal favourite challenge from yourself…

‘Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys?’ The irony bleeds me dry. Have a listen.

Ignorance should be distinguished from stupidity, although both can lead to unwise actions such as voicing an uninformed opinion on something not explored. I think the lyrics in Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys say something my 3000 words could never explain, but to be on the safe side air on the side of caution, even if means not having an opinion especially when it’s not the right one Clive.

You caught a whopper!

 

 

 

 

 

 

One response

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: