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


45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 23)


23 – Ride – Leave Them All Behind (1992, Creation Records)

Released as a single in February 1992 (Reached Number 9)

A long time ago in the early 1990’s, there was this little music scene called shoegaze. Ride were the kings of that scene, largely because, if you put the band that probably invented it, My Bloody Valentine, to one side for a minute, they were the only band that really crossed over into the mainstream long enough to be important. They also made ‘Nowhere’ which is still to this day one of the greatest guitar records ever made. Yes it is. Face facts Skunk Anansie fans.

Ride were for about half an hour or so, the biggest band in the UK. For reasons that were quite obvious, girls loved them and nearly every girl I knew between 1990 and 1992 wanted their boyfriends to look like Mark Gardner or Andy Bell, it was never the other two. We boys tried in vain to do that, we grow our fringes so that they flopped over our eyes. Then we bought stripy long sleeved T-shirts in their thousands and traded on blue denims for black ones. After that we threw our Adidas pumps into the back of our wardrobes and bought eight hole Doc Martens, and we learnt how to stand perfectly still at gigs and just gaze at our shoes, swaying gently to a blaze of feedback strewn guitars, and whispery vocals about the sky, the rain and dreams.

Roughly at the same time that we boys were doing this, Ride were recording their second album, ‘Going Blank Again’. The lead track from it was ‘Leave Them All Behind’ a swirling, kaleidoscopic feedback inspired inspired eight minute blast of brilliance. It has this long drawn out intro to which, I, at the time, proudly declared it to be ‘the greatest opening two minutes of music, ever’ to anyone that would listen to me. Saying that I do have form for this kind of thing, because roughly six months earlier, I said the same thing about this

Perfume (All on you) – Paris Angels (Sheer Joy Records 1990, Number 55)

to anyone that would listen, and this too I think, (but only for that rumbling bass)

A Good Idea – Sugar (Creation Records 1992, Number 65)

And I was probably right on all accounts.

Anyway, back to girls and them liking Ride. In 1992, OPG turned 18 and a few weeks before that special day I sent a letter (ask your dad, kids) to Ride, via the address on the back of their ‘Taste’ EP asking them for a signed photo. Some six months later one popped through my letterbox, of course, by that time, OPG and SWC, had consciously uncoupled for the time being. What actually popped through my letterbox was a signed print of the cover of ‘Leave Them All Behind’ and for about five years that took pride of place on my bedroom wall, that was there until 1998, when I was about to graduate, my dad phoned me and told me that as I was ‘moving to bloody Devon – he was redecorating my old room and had chucked all my old crap into a box’ which he had then put in the loft. I never saw that print again.


THE £20 CHALLENGE (Week Nine)


S-WC writes…..

I’ve edited this at the start to issue an apology. I’ve been really busy in the last couple of weeks – so apologies if you have been (for some strange reason) eagerly awaiting (or even just mildly looking forward to it) this. It was beyond my control. Sometimes work gets in the way of fun. That obviously sucks, but, its pays my bills and keeps me in fluffy socks and allows me to fuel my Jaffa Cake addiction. Now on with the charity shop stuff.

“You know that I hate Mercury Rev why have you bought me a Mercury Rev CD?”

Badger smiles and says that it was time for me to put aside my hatred for Mercury Rev, because it wasn’t based on music but personality. He is right and this is why…Welcome to the (long drawn out) story of the night that the singer from Mercury Rev punched me in the face…Which to this day is the sole reason why I refuse to like Mercury Rev.

It is March 1992, I am sixteen an in the last year or so I have discovered music, live gigs, girls, Newcastle Brown Ale, Doc Martins Boots and cigarettes. I have abandoned a burgeoning career on the running track (at the time I am the two time Kent Under 16 Cross Country Champion), and thrown away my slippers with Scooby Doo on them. I think I am cool because I own ‘Come Home’ on 12” and a Carter T-shirt which has a swear word on the back.

By now I am a gig veteran (or I think I am), last summer I went to the Reading Festival and the much forgotten about Slough Festival and already this year I have seen about five bands live. Today I am in Folkestone to see Ride they are supported by Mercury Rev. Ride are touring in support of their second album ‘Going Blank Again’ and are at the height of their powers, the album has just gone Top 5 in the charts and ‘Leave Them All Behind’ has been pretty much glued to my stereo since its release – this is probably because its so long that it hasn’t quite finished yet.

mp3 : Ride – Leave Them All Behind

There are six of us, me, Graham (posh kid, doesn’t like Ride, but has come because he fancies one of the girls here), Martin (now in the band Thee Faction), Nick (thinks he is cooler than everyone because he has a girlfriend who is older than him), and two girls, Michelle (the one that Graham fancies I think) and Catherine (later starts going out with my best mate Richard). I at the time have been sniffing around Our Price Girl, I have yet to succeed (succeed? Probably not the right word) in that quest but I am at least on speaking terms with her. Oh, she is here at this gig, did I mention that? She is sitting in a café (looking divine in a Cure T Shirt and flowery skirt) drinking Pepsi, on the walkway up to the concert venue, which is why I am trying to convince everyone to go to that café instead of queuing up to get in like 700 other sadsacks.

Our Price Girl is with Jane one of her best friends, a chap called Dave who I sort of know and another guy, who is much older than them all (later revealed as Dave’s dad, Eric). In the end Michelle, me, and Graham (inevitably because where Michelle goes, he goes) go to the café and the others go and queue up. I pretend not to notice Our Price Girl and then act surprised when I see her at a table. It sort of works as her group and my group spend the rest of evening as one group.

We are wondering back to the queue, I think there are six of us (Dave’s Dad has gone somewhere else), when we spot Mark Gardener from Ride, just walking down the street. He is carrying a plate of sandwiches, which I have to say to this day remains the single most bizarre thing I have seen a rock star carrying (apart from the time I saw Billy Corgan carrying a goat into his hotel room and locking the door. That’s made up by the way, just in case he’s reading). That is important, remember the sandwiches. Seeing Mark pretty much sends the girls into some form of mental breakdown, they start fixing their hair, getting little mirrors out of their bags that sort of thing. We dash over and immediately Our Price Girl tells me to say hello to him. “Why me?” I say. She doesn’t answer but just stands that looking cross, so I shut up and wander over. Now for some reason, I have no idea why, I say to Mark Gardener, probably the coolest bloke on the planet at the time (well I thought so anyway), “Got any cheese and tomato in there?” He looks at me and smiles and says “I don’t know, they are for Mercury Rev”. Then I ask him if he would mind signing some stuff for me and my mates, which of course he agrees to. We then all chat some more and eventually we are outside the back of the venue – he then says he has to run off and do ‘shit interviews’ with the local papers but told us to enjoy the gig and he is gone. The girls sigh, and we all decide that he is a really nice guy. It is then that Graham realises that he is holding Mercury Rev’s sandwiches.

We knock on the back door until a security guy opens it and tells us politely to fuck off. I say that we have some sandwiches for Mercury Rev and he laughs and says ‘nice try’. We push Graham to the front and show him, he tells us to stay where we are. A strange thing happens then, the singer from Mercury Rev turns up and starts chatting to us, whilst opening the plate of sandwiches up and eating them. There are probably fifteen sandwiches on that plate. Now, I should say here, that this is the old singer from Mercury Rev, a large chap named, David Baker, not the current singer. I was pretty unaware of Mercury Rev and their music and when the singer asked us if we were fans instead of saying yes I said ‘I’ve never heard of you…’ and Graham and Dave both laughed. Our Price Girl shot me a look at this point.

He looked pretty pissed off with me at this point and he starts to wander off back into the venue, muttering something about having to get back. Now, at this point, the events are slightly blurred, but someone says something. I swear it wasn’t me, I think it was Graham, but I might be wrong. Anyway, the singer from Mercury Rev turns around and punched me in the face. It didn’t hurt to be honest, it was more of a slap than a punch it left a red mark rather than a bruise. With that he was gone and the security guard told us to do one again. By the way, David Baker had eaten nine sandwiches in around five minutes and not once did he offer us one or even say ‘Thank You’.

I turned to my friends and said “I bet Mercury Rev are shit”. I was right, that night they were awful, meandering, and pretentious. I vowed that from that day I would never like them, it was because the singer had slapped me, rather than their actual music, because there was one song about ‘Bees’ that was actually pretty good.

So that is why I have never really liked Mercury Rev. And by the way the only other musician to have punched me is the guitarist from long lost Pearl Jam wannabes (only from Guildford, not Seattle) Redwood, he punched me because I said their album was as interesting as reading the Chester City Bus Timetable. That one hurt though.

“The problem with this album”, Badger says as he hands me the copy of ‘All Is Dream’ “is that its not ‘Deserters Songs”. That album folk is in Badger’s Top Twenty Albums Ever. He loves it and every now and again forces me to listen to it on car journeys or something. I don’t mind it to be honest, but its not the masterpiece that everyone says it is.

However, I listen to ‘All is Dream’ the next day on the way to Torquay, and you know what, I enjoyed it. It’s a lovely album. Its intelligent, graceful and in parts emotional. The lead track from it ‘The Dark Is Rising’ is beautiful as is ‘Tides of the Moon’ and the ending of ‘Lincoln’s Eyes’ has one of best endings of a song I’ve heard in ages. It also has this piano led ballad on it called ‘Spider and Flies’ which is probably the finest song on the album, as the piano tinkles away, the singer (Jonathon Donahue) quietly goes mental, confessing all his fears about death and such like. You realise then that the whole album is a kind of ode to a love or lover I suppose. It’s a lovely thing.

Ok, Mercury Rev, I forgive you. Now let’s listen to ‘Deserter’s Songs’ again.

mp3 : Mercury Rev – The Dark Is Rising
mp3 : Mercury Rev – Tides of The Moon
mp3 : Mercury Rev – Lincoln’s Eyes
mp3 : Mercury Rev – Spiders and Flies

The Skinny

‘All is Dream’ bought from PDSA Exeter

Price £2.99

Left £3.50



These words have come all the way from the deepest Guyanese jungle.  Yup, I’m delighted to pass in the news that S-WC has settled into is his new job and lifestyle very quickly and via his good mate Tim (who along with S-WC got working on the blog that is When You Can’t Remember Anything) has been in touch to offer this:-

How are you all? It’s been a while. You are all looking good, I like what you’ve done with your hair.

Me? I’m fine, thanks for asking. I have a view across the water that is amazing, I have a working air con machine and they have given me a brand new 4×4 to mess around with. Life could be worse. Ok I got woken up at 3am by a flying cockroach and again at 5am by what I think was gunfire, but you know, beer is 75c a litre in the bar ‘down the road’ and the watermelons here are to die for. Literally in some cases.

I have some time on my hands so I am doing a lot of writing. I enjoyed recently a piece written by JC about ‘Imaginary Compilation Albums’ and always promised to write one for him on Spiritualized. I’m finding that quite tough to narrow down, so here is one featuring Ride.

For those who don’t know Ride are probably one of the most unsung bands of the last couple of generations, they were pioneers of the much missed Shoegaze scene and with their debut album ‘Nowhere’ they created one of the best records of the nineties (those who remember my 40 albums to hear before I am 40, would have read all about this if I had time to finish it – that album folks is the 6th best ever. If you want to argue, my neighbour has a gun he has offered to lend me to shoot ‘alligators’ should I ever need it. Just saying.). Also as a sub note – it was really hard to not simply just pick the tracks from ‘Nowhere’ here.

Side One

Leave Them All Behind – Because of the two-minute intro, because of the drum bit that sounds incredible, because the keyboard at the start sounds like The Who, and mostly, because chaps, the song was once voted the ultimate shagging song, although I very honestly doubt any of us would not be smoking a cigarette before it ends.

Sennen – Because it a truly beautiful song, it reminds me of home and I love it. I have said it before, that Sennen Cove in Cornwall is the most beautiful place on Earth, go there, now. Also the moment when the vocals enter, is a shivers up the spine moment.

Vapour Trail – Despite the ropey lyrics ‘You are a Vapour Trail, in the deep blue sky’ – the guitars mixed in with a cello (A Cello!!) create something truly lovely which batters the murkiness of the overall sound. I used to think this sounded tuneless when I was younger but I now realise that it shimmers beautifully.

Dreams Burn Down – Because it sounds dark, moody and rather magnificent, especially if you listen to it whilst walking home in the pitch black. Try it.

Close My Eyes – A personal choice to be honest, it reminds me of an ex girlfriend. That is all I’m going to say on that.

Side Two

Chelsea Girl – Perhaps the ultimate Ride song, short, sweet, poppy and probably the first single that really turned the public heads. It is all about that rush of drums and guitars at the start I think.

Chrome Waves – One the best tracks off of ‘Going Blank Again’ – and I think one of the best songs that Mark Gardener ever wrote. I find it strangely haunting.

In A Different Place“Even if the rain falls down and all the skies turn cold” is the best lyric Ride ever wrote and for that we have to include it. It is a beautiful song and I think underlines why Ride were one of those bands.

Like A Daydream – A song that wants to sound like the Byrds so much, but ends up sounding far better than the Byrds ever did. It has this middle section that has this pause in it, a moment of silence before the guitars just go, well all over the place. I love this song to pieces and you all should too.

OX4 – It was a punch up between this and ‘Nowhere’ and the choice took me an hour and three decisions*. ‘OX4’ wins because it just hypnotises you over seven minutes.

You’ll note there is nothing off of ‘Carnival of Light’ or ‘Tarantula’ here – not because they are terrible but because the aren’t as good as everything else Ride did. If I had two secret tracks at the end I would put ‘How Does It Feel to Feel?’ as one of them, because I am in the video for it (two minutes 16 seconds in), the other secret track would be ‘Unfamiliar’. Oh and ‘Taste’ and ‘Seagull’ and…Oh I’ll shut up now.

Laters Alligators….


* JC adds……been there every single time I’ve tried to put one of these particular pieces together!  Here’s the tracks chosen by S-WC:-

mp3 : Ride – Leave Them All Behind
mp3 : Ride – Sennen
mp3 : Ride – Vapour Trail
mp3 : Ride – Dreams Burn Down
mp3 : Ride – Close My Eyes
mp3 : Ride – Chelsea Girl
mp3 : Ride – Chrome Waves
mp3 : Ride – In A Different Place
mp3 : Ride – Like A Daydream
mp3 : Ride – OX4



Weather and Feminism

But to start with a bit about the weather and something completely different. Recently the weather in the South West has been terrible, awful, most of it is underwater and I swear I saw a Merman the other day in the local branch of Waterstones.

So yesterday as I trudged back from the sandwich shop clutching my avocado and pine nut salad sandwich (I say sandwich shop, I mean, ridiculously expensive deli) a song came on my Ipod. It was ‘Sennen’ by Ride and as I walked through the lakes and wind lashed more rain into my face, I smiled, because this song made me feel warm, dry and a little bit cosy.

For those of you who don’t know, Sennen is a beautiful beach in Cornwall (check it on the Interent – I thoroughly recommend a visit), right at the end near Lands End. It is one of my favourite places on Earth and I firmly believe that it has never rained there.

The song itself by Ride is a sunny type of song, and in the perfect world, when the weather forecasters say ‘Rain, Wind, Hail, Plague of Frogs’ they should then be forced to say ‘Never mind all that though, here’s Ride with Sennen, now smile you miserable toads’. So if its wet, damp and your lounge is full of mud, here’s Ride with ‘Sennen’. Hope for the four minutes or so that you listen to it, it makes you smile as much as it did me. Play it in the rain and grin like a loon.

mp3 : Ride – Sennen

Anyway back to the box choice, Bandit Queen, for those who don’t know, where a Manchester three piece fronted by former Swirl (nope, me neither) singer Tracey Gooding, released one album ‘Hormone Hotel’ in the mid 90’s. (which is what has come out of the box).  A second album was recorded and never released until the power of the Internet allowed it to be self released in 2010. They came across on the ‘feminist angle’ back then and they seem a fitting choice for today because as I type it is Simone de Beauvoirs 106th birthday and if the Google Doodle is correct, she’s looking good on it. There were also named after the Indian Freedom Fighter Phoolan Devi and were strongly influenced by Frida Kahlo (even putting her on the cover of Hormone Hotel) so you get the agenda that they were addressing.



I have chosen the lead single of the album ‘Miss Dandys’, a spiky little pop song all about crossing dressing gigolos.

mp3 : Bandit Queen – Miss Dandys

The bands bio states that they sit perfectly in between The Breeders and Throwing Muses and you will see why, they have that clever lyric writing going on that the Throwing Muses had and they have the angriness of The Breeders, although Miss Dandys is no ‘Cannonball’. Decide for yourself.

mp3 : The Breeders – Cannonball

I remember quite liking this when I was a student and I made it Single of the Week in my column in the Student Rag I know this as in pen next to the song I have written ‘SOTW’, today I checked the archives and it beat ‘Mansize Rooster’ by Supergrass to that accolade, so I think I must have been drunk when I listened to it. I mean its good, but its not that good. The album promised much, and kind of delivers, you get much more of the same, decent indie pop, well worth an investment if you can find a cheap copy, (or give me a shout and I’ll see what I can do).