Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Yesterday, The Guardian posted a compilation of their music team’s advertisement earworms that the newspaper’s writers can never be forgotten, for better or for worse. I could not resist contributing an opinion of my own.

Enter: ‘Twenty Four Toasters from Scunthorpe’. This was an extremely irritating advertisement for Mobil and their ‘premier card’. What really does not help is not only how I can’t forget it, but how my family will not let me forget it. When this emerged on UK television in 1993, I was just three years old, so why should I care?

Well, the damage wasn’t done by remembering that era, but by how I used to sing along to it every time that it was on. My family, whether parents, grandparents or cousins, seem to take great pleasure in reminding me of this. With emphasis on the “BAH!” at the end, although my voice at the time functioned better as a dog whistle than it did human communication.

The music is derived from 1960s Gene Pitney hit ‘Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa’, which was a message to his now ex-partner, stating that he had found a new woman: “something happened to me, while I was driving home and I’m not the same anymore”. What was once a reluctant apology on the complexity and potential upset in romance, now sought to ram Mobil’s card scheme down everyone’s throats. If these were the words of Mobil’s nutcase and his abrasive screeching, erratic high kicks and overactive eyebrows, then that might also have made perfect sense. If his sanity had plummeted so low as to be so excited about toasters (to the point that he is going to buy twenty-four of them for his family), I doubt that anybody, whether Pitney or a ballistic businessman, could find their way home. Perhaps that is how he accumulated so many ‘premier points’. He’s been driving around the same roundabout for about the last week.

I don’t know that anybody has yet envisioned Pitney’s exploits with his new woman to be quite so wild. Diamond rings might make sense, and the double beds might not be too out of the question. However, drills and toasters might be a bit of an acquired and painful taste. Perhaps that is why the woman behind the till is so terrified.

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Uh-oh. This isn’t why night pay was invented…

I posted my thoughts on my Facebook page, and my friend replied: “A hundred people may see it and think “sanctimonious prick” (a pun – hep!), but if one person sees it and feels a little less scared, or alone, it’s worth doing I reckon. It would also be enormously useful if you met a racist with a balloon.” Of course, I agree. Quickly, as this has been bouncing around Twitter tonight at great speed there is a charitable idea that I think is great, but I think it needs to be treated very carefully.26809-ew0ktx

 

I just want to post my thoughts on the use of safety pins – an idea that was given a massive boost when reported by The Independent. The idea sparked by a tweet was for people around the country to wear a safety pin on their clothing to represent ‘solidarity with the United Kingdom’s immigrant population’.

There is no reason not to respect the cause behind this, because it has received a lot of attention in the wake of the result of the EU Referendum, as several racial abuse incidents were reported. Last week, days after the referendum, I spoke to a white, British taxi driver who was very quick to ask me how I voted: “Don’t worry. I know my way around Portsmouth. I’m not foreign. So, did you vote?”, followed by a pro-Brexit political lecture all the way home. While not necessarily abusive, he was extremely irresponsible and it would be of no surprise if he had already said the same thing to the ‘wrong person’ since. I also have several student friends who are upset that they will face far more difficulty if they plan to stay in the United Kingdom once their studies are over. It is an issue that must be addressed.

A badge to represent a named faction would be a good idea on the grounds of emphasising its scale – there are x members of the team, perhaps stylised as proper nouns. The Safety Pin, used technically as a viral marketing tool for charitable cause. However, there still seem to be a couple of issues. 1. Sometimes it seems to emphasise the victimisation of some people more than it does unity, and it’s dangerously thin line – close to being a bit counter-intuitive, as it makes a point of designating immigrants into a separate group. It could be great, but could also be British people meaning well, but in danger of isolating the victims even further by running the campaign.

However, is the idea of a safety pin to represent one’s own solidarity with the immigrant population? I am not entirely sure that being under pressure to take part in the exercise is quite the way to go about the matter. That is not to so that these are all problems that can resolved by everyone being nice, but to be somewhat forced to play along is on the brink of causing another issue – 2. therefore one would be designated as a racist, fascist and guilty of hate crimes in spite of total innocence.

I hope that these are problems that can be avoided, and that this takes off at a great velocity, but I can’t help but be concerned of these issues.

Please post your thoughts below. I’m curious on the subject of what others think.

 

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A while ago I posted about my first albums and just how important they were to me in the years that I was beginning to appreciate the music beyond Now That’s What I Call Music! 40. It was fascinating for me, thinking back to how there really were select moments that made my tastes what they are today. In fact, it really is a testament with regards to what I do today, fifteen years on. I can’t resist bringing to the table a book that I found today whilst clearing out – the Smash Hits 2002 annual, which I got for Christmas 2001, aged 11.

It really is a sign of the times is you look at its cover. Shaggy. Steps. 5ive. Samantha Mumba. S Club 7 (when there was still a ‘7’). Atomic Kitten (best band name, to worst band ratio ever). Hear’Say (spawn of Popstars). Blue. Backstreet Boys. Destiny’s Child (remember them?). You get the idea.

So what was going through Nicholas Pollard’s mind at around this time? None of this was going to win me over apparently. On the first page, there were empty spots to fill in with one’s name, and to answer questions. Here were those answers.

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First of all, to get it out of the way, ‘Nogli’ has been a nickname since ever. Special thanks to my father for that one, who can’t remember where it stems from, nor his nicknames assigned to his other spawn – ‘P’, ‘Bumpski’ and ‘Pud’.

My highlight of 2001 was apparently ‘finally’ seeing Linkin Park in the top ten with my song of the year, Linkin Park’s ‘In the End’. I was ecstatic enough that I can recall from memory where it ended up – number eight. This doesn’t really come as much of a surprise, considering that it was my first album (and therefore one of very few things that I listened to), and amidst my transition from primary to secondary school, there was a semi-conscious pursuit of coolness. I had a hoody with the album cover on it! Twice! £28 well spent. Subsequently, that puts the most successful boyband of the time at the very bottom of my list.

As far as I was concerned, Westlife were CRAP. Sorry… C**P. I was just coming to terms with how they got away with saying it on The Simpsons, before my bedtime. He he.

Notably, I had no ‘most delightful person’, presumably based upon either me not even wanting to tell a book who my crush was (for the record, I don’t remember), or just didn’t understand the question. Here’s where things get more interesting…

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And so the ‘crap’ continues with the N*Sync vs Backstreet Boys question. Looking back, I’ll gladly listen to both out of nostalgia, but again, that just was not for me. And who is that in the next answer? Fred Durst? I had a real fixation on Limp Bizkit at the time – or rather two songs. I had a recording from Top of the Pops of ‘Rollin’ (which I listened to repeatedly), and ‘Hot Dog’. What was not to love about “if I say ‘fuck’ two more times, that’s forty-six ‘fucks’ in this fucked-up rhyme”. Considering how I went on to hand in a college assignment with seventy-seven uses of a certain C-word that ends with a ‘t’, this too left its mark.

The last three questions are a bit of a giggle, as at this point I was yet to have a ridiculous James May-style hairdo that to this day I haven’t controlled, grasped the concept of sex (the statement about non-existent trousers was a ‘tweenage’ attempt at a witticism rather than it even crossing my mind what was underneath. Those cheeses were chosen as they were what I always alternated between in my school lunchbox. Today, wensleydale with cranberries would own them all.

However, what interests me the most is my answer to the question on who I would like to meet. Besides Fred Durst and Linkin Park (neither of whom I have made it to as of yet), I state afterwards what I would go on to do as I entered adulthood, perhaps even then in pursuit of a career that placed me in the middle of the chaos of the music world (albeit it not being acknowledged much yet that it was an ‘industry’) – “or any star, even if I don’t like them”. There is no denying, that this is precisely where I have ended up today.

Just a cheesy (you know… Babybel, edam and strong cheddar) stream of thought that I couldn’t resist dumping here about following one’s dreams, even whether you aren’t conscious that you even are. Perhaps I’m luckier than I thought.