THE £20 CHALLENGE (Week Two)


JC writes…..

There’s a key reference in this week’s tale which will require a bit of explaining to some of the blog’s overseas readers.  I’ve decided to put that addition in (as well as provide a link to the charity shop from which the CD was purchased), but otherwise what follows comes from the talented fingertips of Badger….

The first text message said:-

‘I’m off to buy your first CD I’ll pop it round your place later’.

I have to admit, I have been worried what exactly SWC would present me with. Since I had ‘the only good idea in my life’ last week, he has been asking me if I like a variety of bands ranging from Nickelback to long lost Oxford Radiohead clones Subcircus. The joy with this challenge is that I could literally get anything. He might try and get something embarrassing but knowing SWC he couldn’t stoop to buying something like Meatloaf or Shania Twain. Hopefully.

The second text message arrives when I am in an important meeting, luckily we are about to stop for what they call a ‘comfort break’. In other words, after an hour in a room everyone needs a piss, a cigarette or just five minutes sanity time. Seriously you know its time for a break when, an annoying man with NHS glasses and lisp says ‘Let’s refill the Reservoir of Knowledge’ – and that happened twenty minutes ago.

The second text message reads thus:-

“She says, It’s not you, it’s me / I need a little time, a little space / A place to find myself again, you know / Oh yeah, I know a goodbye when I hear it/ She smiles but her heart’s already out there/ Walking down the street”.

Obviously it’s a lyric. One that I don’t really recognise, so I scribble it down and phone the wife.

“Why are you quoting Jimmy Nail lyrics at me?” she asks.

“Stupid Boy Project” is my answer;

She sighs and then says “Ain’t No Doubt’ probably his finest moment, Not that there is a great deal of competition, I remember it knocked ‘Abba-esque’ by Erasure off Number One, my boyfriend at the time was a massive Erasure fan, that is why I wasn’t surprised when he left me for the guy who worked at Bovey Bikes”.

This is a true story, before me, my wife was with a chap called Jason, who left her for the bloke she worked with in a bike shop in the small Devon town of Bovey Tracey. They emigrated to Australia about ten years later.

I quickly send SWC a text:-

‘Have you bought me a Jimmy Nail CD? I told you to buy something I might like. I don’t like Jimmy Nail’.

His reply was swift:-

‘What about Auf Wiedersehn Pet?.

I don’t have time to tell him to fuck off as lisp man is calling us back in to discuss ‘Thinking outside the box”.

So it was with some fear that I opened the door to him later that evening, it wasn’t all bad, he’d got caught in a hail storm as he cycled the two miles to my house from his. After I had stopped laughing at his drenched state, I offer him a cup of tea. He then hands me a bag marked ‘Chudleigh Mare & Foal Sanctuary’.

“Thanks” I said and put the bag on the table and return to the kitchen to make the tea. SWC has this bad habit, he kind of makes himself at home at my place – I mean I don’t mind, he is always welcome, but this means he puts the stereo on or helps himself to the biscuits – today he does both – he has three chocolate digestives in his hand when I return carrying the tea, and he has put the stereo on – it’s the CD from the bag.

You will be relieved to know it’s not Jimmy Nail. As fantastic as his 1992 album ‘Growing Up in Public’ no doubt is. I am delighted when track one starts as I don’t hear the croaky vocals of the Geordie Elvis. Of course it’s not, SWC wouldn’t buy Jimmy Nail, he is far too self-conscious for that. “Did you fall for my deliberate bluff?” he said. “Yes I bloody did” I said, removing the chocolate digestives from out of his reach. I also give him the smallest cup of tea, which wipes the smirk off his face.

So what did he buy? Well he did rather well.

He bought me a copy of ‘Star’ by Belly. An album I have never properly owned but always meant to. I think I had a taped copy whilst at University. For those in the dark, Belly were formed by Tanya Donnelly ex of the Throwing Muses and (briefly) The Breeders in 1991 and were a band I saw in Leeds in 1993 on a joint headline tour with Radiohead (which was also, I think, the first time I saw Radiohead, although I seem to remember seeing Suede with them as a support?). Of note in February 2016, they announced that they were reforming with new material.

Their first album ‘Star’ is a stunning record. It has aged very well, full of happy/sad sugar-coated indie pop that has this excellent wooziness running through it. In tracks like ‘Gepetto’, ‘Feed the Tree’ and my personal favourite ‘Slow Dog’ they had three tracks which filled the indie dance floors of my early(ish) 20s.

mp3 : Belly – Gepetto
mp3 : Belly – Feed The Tree
mp3 : Belly – Slow Dog

SWC left about forty minutes later – he handed me the envelope (slightly wet) and the money inside – there is £17.50 in there – which means he paid £1.50 for the CD. Absolute Bargain, I would have paid full price for it to be honest.


JC addendum

I had a  piece on Belly in the TVV pipeline, but rather than have it come up again soon, I’ll hold it back for a while yet.  In the meantime, here’s a cover version by the band which appeared as a b-side to the single release of Feed The Tree.  One for all aficionados of Walt Disney:

mp3 : Belly – Trust In Me