P is for Pooh Sticks

Young People (Taken from the ‘The Great White Wonder’)

I gave blood today. It was the first time I have given blood in about 25 years. In fact the last time I gave blood I was still dating OPG so it’s longer than 25 years ago, more like 27 years, 6 months and 22 days. On that occasion, OPG and her mum picked me up in their Austin Maestro from the small car park behind the church hall near Gillingham High Street, and OPG rewarded me with a Mars Bar for being such a brave boy. I was really pleased with myself not only because I’d done a good a thing, but I’d also managed to get a free cup of tea and a small packet of biscuits, and now I had a whole Mars Bar as well. Some days, you just felt like the King of the World.

I’m always reminded of the last great Tony Hancock in ‘The Blood Donor” when I give blood. I can’t help it. I love Tony Hancock and ‘The Blood Donor’ is one of my favourite pieces of television ever. Despite telling myself that I have absolutely no intention of watching ‘The Blood Donor’ before I go and donate, there I am at midday on the hottest day of the year in my lounge, chortling away to myself as Hancock delivers his immortal line to the harassed looking doctor.

“I mean, I came here in all good faith, to help my country. I don’t mind giving a reasonable amount, but a pint? Why, that’s very nearly an armful.”

I am tempted to quote Hancock to the nurse who deals with me today, but I decide not to, largely because the man in front of me does it first and the gag falls so flat on its arse that I tell myself that annoying the kind lady with the big needle is not a tremendous idea. She is also about 25 as well, and the reason why the joke is falling flat on its arse is because the nurse probably thinks that Tony Hancock is related to Matt Hancock, the totally fucking hopeless ex health secretary.

R is for Ride

Close My Eyes (Taken from ‘Ride EP’)

The nurse, who is called Vanessa, pricks my middle finger and then proceeds to squeeze some blood out of it, she is quite content with the quality of my blood and then tells me to go and sit on the reclining chairs. It is there in the reclining chairs that you give your armful of blood. It’s kind of relaxing, once you get past the needle in your arm bit that is. I lie there close my eyes and listen to the music that is playing in the room and once I realise what it is, I try and shut out the racket that is Heather Small singing ‘Proud’.

“You feeling nervous, love?” Vanessa says; it’s a bit weird being called ‘Love’ by a woman who is young enough to be my daughter, but I smile and say “Nope, I’m just trying to not listen to Heather Small’s voice”. Vanessa offers me a cushion to put behind my back, and I feel myself ageing a few more years.

After about ten minutes a machine beeps a noise similar to the noise you get when you finish a level of Super Mario Brothers, and I am told to sit up and then Vanessa asks me if I would like a drink. I ask for an Earl Grey, black and with a squeeze of lemon if they have it. She hands me a piece of card that tells me “NO HOT DRINKS FOR SIX HOURS”.

I’m also, for the next six hours, not allowed “Physical Exercise (including sex)” – it genuinely says that, “too much sun” (it’s the hottest day of the year) and “no alcohol”. I tell Vanessa that the last time I gave blood, I got a cup of tea. She looks at me strangely and asks me “When was that” as apparently, it’s a really bad idea to have hot drinks after giving blood.

I tell her it was in “1994”. She laughs and says “Christ love, I wasn’t even born then” and about 3000 of my hairs immediately turn grey, and I ask her for some water.

I am walked over to the relaxation area, where you must sit for fifteen minutes after donating. I am offered a box full of crisps and salty snacks to eat with my water (“helps your body retain water, love”) and I pick up two bags of salt and vinegar crisps and sit in one of the comfy chairs and pick up a copy of ‘Devon Life’ Magazine and read an article about the Westward Ho!

I open the crisps and munch away. I’m really hungry. I’d gone out without lunch, you see, choosing instead to watch Tony Hancock videos instead. About seven minutes after I finish the first bag of crisps, I realise that this was a mistake. My head starts to spin a bit, and then a lot, and the nurse to my right has started talking in a weird slow motion style. I pick up my glass of water, my hand is shaking, and suddenly I feel really hot, sweating buckets hot, like the moment about two minutes before you puke up last night’s alcohol.

A kind nurse called Toby wanders over and asks me if I am ok. I feel a bit faint, I tell him. Within minutes, I am lying on the floor, with a cool pillow behind my head and Vanessa is back and shoving my feet on a small box so they are higher than my head.

Vanessa looks at me and smiles, “Bless” she says.

The Pooh Sticks were outstanding, a jangly indie pop band from Wales and ‘The Great White Wonder’ was their second album and featured as a guest vocalist Amelia Fletcher from Talulah Gosh. I saw them live just once at the 1992 Reading Festival (I think) that ended with this.

I’m In You – a fifteen minute wig out of sheer brilliance.

I’m pretty sure I used to own ‘The Great White Wonder’ on tape.

The Ride EP was as we all know the first release from Ride. It remains to this day essential listening, and here for the unacquainted are the other three tracks from the EP. It is unlikely that you will hear many songs that are better today.

Chelsea Girl
Drive Blind
All I Can See


9 thoughts on “BURNING BADGER’S VINYL – THE (NEARLY) A-Z OF INDIEPOP (Part 6, P and R)

  1. Pooh Sticks are criminally under-rated. When Great White Wonder landed it was a thing of beauty but it’s not my favourite Pooh Sticks LP.
    At a time when it seemed the world was falling over itself for all things Teenage Fanclub my loyalty lay with Pooh Sticks.

    I only ever managed to see them live once – with Amelia on backing vocals – at Floral Riot, Edinburgh. I went with another who walks these halls. As gigs go … 10 out of 10. A joyous night.

    Ride. Up until Going Blank Again I was rather devoted. Recently I began to sell some vinyl and did very well with the 1st pressing of Nowhere. I haven’t been able to let the EPs go.

  2. Blimey. I started playing ‘I’m in you’ as I walked in Sainsburys this morning and it was still going when I left. What A track and what a guitar solo.

  3. Oh god, at what point does life switch around so that it’s no longer us saying “bless” about those younger than us, but them saying it about us instead? Aargh. Loved this read, SWC. Hope your arm has filled up again by now.

  4. Nice to hear some love for the great forgotten Welsh hopes that were the Pooh Sticks.

    Not sure what either song has to do with your story, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Intrigued about the article about Westward Ho! That was one of my youthful hangouts, had a wonderful venue there called The Anchor which hosted loads of local bands, plus the likes of Chumbawamba, The Rhythmites, Papa Brittle and several others. It’s apartments now, I believe.

  5. Was Ride considered Britpop? Kind of coincided with the other purveryors. Odd looking back that Britpop and Grunge were contemporary scenes. Must’ve been a reaction to something. Like the prevalence of Hair Metal.
    Another fun read, SWC, thanks.

  6. Yesterday’s post in this series was a treat. This one is even
    better. I’d always assumed tea was the official, written-in-law,
    post-donation beverage. Ah well.

    The Great White Wonder is a fantastic LP and I’m In You is such
    a swaggering joy.

    In Edinburgh, Hue from The Pooh Sticks was handing out 7″
    singles from his collection and I snagged Everybody’s Talkin’ by
    Nilsson. Still have it as a reminder of a lovely night.

    Great post, and you’re right about Ride too, of course. Bless.

  7. That Reading Festival gig was great. The Pooh Sticks were on before Captain Sensible, but everything was running late, so the tent was full of old punks chanting “We want the Captain” whilst Amelia handed out sweets to the audience and Hue sang songs about the Pastels.
    Always entertaining live, i also remember a gig at Subterrania where Hue gave away his record collection and one at the (old) Powerhaus where he decided to stage dive but mid dive the crowd parted and he landed with a thud.

  8. Ride are shoegaze surely? Anyway Going Blank Again is one of my handful of favourite albums ever. And surprisingly, the comeback albums (Weather Diaries and especially This is Not a Safe Place) are really good.
    You don’t expect that.

  9. (in response to Matt’s comment above, about stagediving) In Tokyo, the Poohs’ drummer stagedived at the end of the set and disclocated his shoulder. He played the two remaining shows of the tour with one arm, and was fantastic.

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