THE £20 CHALLENGE (Week Three)


So after the Jimmy Nail incident – Badger has tried to get revenge on me. He hasn’t sent me song lyrics or anything like that but he did send me a picture of the shop that he purchased this week CD from. It is the Brainwave Charity Shop in Ashburton.

Ashburton for those of you who do not know is commonly known by Devonians as ‘Ashbucket’ largely because its sort of right, but also because the place is run down and a bit sad. It sits on the edge of Dartmoor and recently it has had a bit of face lift, artists are turning up in the town claiming inspiration from the wild and rugged beauty of Dartmoor. In reality, housing and rent is dirt cheap in Ashburton. There is one charity shop in the town.

A few months back I popped in that shop – I was working in the town and the shop is next to a decent sandwich shop – so whilst they made my Rocket, Applewood and marmalade chutney on rye bread – I browsed. It had nine CDs in it and box full of freebies from the Daily Mail. Of the nine on sale three of them were by Robbie Williams, two were by Gabrielle and the rest were of a similar vein. On a more positive note it did have a copy of ‘Porridge – The Scripts’ for £3. Which I bought, just so I could practice my Fulton Mackay impression.

So when the photo came through I wasn’t exactly hopeful. I sent a text back saying “I hope you’ve bought me ‘Rise’ by one eyed soul diva Gabrielle?”. His response – “Naturally, why does she wear an eye patch, does she genuinely have one eye and if so how did she lose it?”

(Apologies to anyone out there who doesn’t know who Gabrielle is)

(JC adds……links have been provided to Gabs here and to Fulton Mackay here.  I was astonished to realise that he’s been dead for almost 30 years…it doesn’t seem that long)

What followed was roughly twenty texts offering reasons as to why she only had one eye. Now before I relay some of these texts – I should state, she has two eyes, one suffers from the fairly common disorder called ptosis (or lazy eyelid). I think she has reverted to wearing sunglasses now instead of looking like the world’s least convincing pirate. We mean no offence to any ptosis sufferers.

Anyway, we have updated Gabrielle’s Wikipedia page with the following helpful information (none of which are true)

Gabrielle lost her eye in the 1987 World Jousting Championships which were held in Hackney, London. She recovered to finish third in the Junior Competition just beating TVs Timmy Mallett to the Bronze medal.

In 1985 whilst aged 15, Gabrielle was hit in the eye by one of Jazzy B’s from Soul II Souls dreadlocks, causing irreparable damage. This sadly meant she was unable to become the professional Speedway Rider that she had spoken of since an early age. Damn you Jazzy B.

In 1992 whilst in the small Kent town of Tenterden, Gabrielle was visiting the Steam Railway when a small child threw an orange Smartie at her with such force that it lodged in her eye. Despite numerous operations, the Smartie is still there forcing Gabrielle to give up her career as an optician because no one wants an optician who stinks of Orange Smarties.

In 1991 Gabrielle got ripped to the tits on Green Mad Dog 20/20 and sold her right eye to a boggle eyed scientist for £3.50, which she spent on a litre bottle of Blue Mad Dog 20/20.

As a child, Gabrielle was a keen actress and was one of the first people to endorse ‘Method Acting’ – something she soon would regret when she was cast as King Harold in the St Bastards School 1978 production of ‘The Battle of Hastings”.

Erm….I should probably stop there. Suffice to say we didn’t get much worked done that afternoon. And I promise from now on there will be no more stupid conversations about early 90s popstars from the UK – it’s just that you do find a lot of their stuff in charity shops and most of them are ridiculously easy to take the piss out of.

It wasn’t Gabrielle of course it wasn’t. It was a copy of Catatonia’s debut album ‘Way Beyond Blue’ a record I had long since forgotten about.

In November 1997, at the London Astoria, whilst I was still a journalist, Mrs SWC and I got royally pissed with two of Catatonia (not Cerys Matthews) – I was supposed be interviewing them before they went on stage, but they found support band The Warm Jets rider and we decided to drink it. ‘Way Beyond Blue’ isn’t the most well-known Catatonia album (their breakout ‘International Velvet’ takes that honour), but it is my favourite.

It shows a band that are on the verge of greatness, but a band who are were prepared to take risks – take ‘Bleed’ – the chorus of that goes “Do you believe this bullshit?”. They would have got away with that post ‘Road Rage’.

mp3 : Catatonia – Bleed

Tracks like ‘You’ve Got A Lot To Answer For’ and ‘Sweet Catatonia’ showed the potential on offer. These tracks are as catchy as anything they released later that catapulted them to superstardom. But for me the best track by far is ‘For Tinkerbell’ – and make that best track Catatonia ever recorded – which starts as a twee little affair and then Cerys bursts into life and turns into a demented pixie.

mp3 : Catatonia – You’ve Got A Lot To Answer For
mp3 : Catatonia – Sweet Catatonia
mp3 : Catatonia – For Tinkerbell
mp3 : Catatonia – Lost Cat

So here is the Skinny

Bought For £2 – From Brainwave Charity Shop, Ashburton
Money Left £15.50
Here is some more information on Brainwave
should you be interested – a great great charity as it happens.




A hit single in 1998 took Catatonia out of cult status and into the rooms and CD collections of the general public thanks to having the great idea of writing a song which directly referenced two of the then most popular characters in TV fiction.

It’s true that Mulder and Scully will always be the song most associated with the band and there’s no denying that it is a catchy and clever pop song with absolutely nothing to do with the sci-fi or paranormal subject matter of the TV show, but I think their previous single, released at the back-end of 1997 remains their finest non-Welsh lyric moment:-

mp3 : Catatonia – I Am The Mob

A surprise Top 40 hit in as far as radio play was near non-existent thanks to lyrics about kneecapping, oral sex, murder, extortion, all on the back of a stupendous opening line which pays the ultimate tribute to The Godfather.

The CD single has three other tracks on it:-

mp3 : Catatonia – Jump Or Be Sane
mp3 : Catatonia – My Selfish Gene
mp3 : Catatonia – I Am The Mob (Luca Brasi Mix)

While Jump or Sane is more or less a bog-standard filler for a single, the band obviously realised that the piano ballad My Selfish Gene was too mainstream sounding to be thrown away as a b-side and it became the final track on the triple-platinum selling LP International Velvet.  It’s a song which shows off the vocal talents of  Cerys Matthews.

The remix of the single is also reasonably entertaining.