Punk’s Not Dead – More Toy Stories

A few old figurines, a “punk” decor and a punky toy story.

Smurf Punk

Robot Punk

Smurf  ‘n’ Bimbo Guitar duo

Meet the band

Meet all the band – we got ourselves a Brainy bassist

In B&W and mono

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Road Trip from Cabourg to Quiberon

Last leg of our road trip along the north and north western coast of France. From the English Channel at Cabourg to the shores of he Atlantic on the Quiberon Peninsula – from Normandy to Britanny, via the Mont St Michel.

Month St Michel

On the tourist road to Quiberon, another vital stopover on the tourist trail – the standing stones at Carnac – miles of menhirs dating from 5000BC and no one knows what they are there, other than to attract tourists.

Standing Stones at Carnac

The Road to the Stones

Stone-spotting tourists

And on to Quiberon – a popular family holiday resort at he end of the Quiberon peninsula – who says peninsula also says one road in and the same road out – huge traffic jams and a lengthy wait for the delights of Quiberon

Quiberon

Black and Whire Quiberon

On the beach in Quiberon

And from Quiberon we head home to an empty fridge, empty bank account, utility bills and mountains o lessons to prepare before heading back to school. We’ll be back next year.

PTSkiD or Getting Off a Mountainside with Fred and Ginger and Nancy

SLIP SLIDING AWAY

Slip slidin’ away

Slip slidin’ away

You know the nearer your destination

The more you’re slip slidin’ away

Lying flat on my back, arms spread out, staring up at the blazing sun – crucifixion position, numb with cold and rigid with fear – « nailed » to this steep freezing cold, ice-covered mountainside. What a punishment. What have I done to deserve this?

I should have read the signs. I was doing fine on the green run, lazily sliding along on my skis, on the wide and almost flat slope, and then, I took the wrong turning and ended up on the red run; a steep, near-vertical run all bumpy and lumpy and … this was my ski version of the wall of death

My ski buddies implored me to go slow, to zig zag, and above all, « Don’t look down » – but once I hit the slope – a giant whoosh, I lost my footing, fell, lost my skis and poles and went rolling 100 metres down the mountain side, first on my arse, then on my back, wondering if this was my last moment, until, miraculously I came to a halt. And in my slippery wake, I had brought down two friends, who like me slid down the mountain. They lay « intertwined » all bodies and skis a few metres away.

All the while, I could hear whoops of laughter from above – as skiers on the chair lift guffawed at our slippery antics and filmed us on their Smartphones. Just how many people are now watching my fall, slide and dented pride on social media sites?

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NOTHING’S IMPOSSIBLE

Now you’re down, nothing to do but get up and get off this bloody mountain side, like the old song – « Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. » – but, here I am, rigid with fear. I would like to just glide off the mountain, Fred and Ginger style, after all …

Nothing’s impossible, I have found

For when my chin is on the ground.

I pick myself up,

Dust myself off

And start all over again.

Don’t lose your confidence

If you slip

Be grateful for a pleasant trip

And pick yourself up,

Dust yourself off

And start all over again.

I’ve started singing the song. I like the irony of the lyrics in my current situation. Obviously when Dorothy Fields penned these words back in 1936*, she didn’t have dorsally prostrate skiers in mind

My ski friends implore me to stand up, put my skis on and follow them down the mountain.

« NO WAY ! » I scream in the near hysterical scream of all those helpless with fear. I just want to lie hear and have someone come rescue me before I freeze

PTSkiD

Calm down and think. Just how I’m going to get off this f***ing mountain. I certainly ain’t skiing down, besides, my skis and poles are still 100 metres up the slope. There are just two solutions: I can either try and slide down on my arse or my back , perhaps using my arms and legs as some kind on brake, or, I can just get up and walk off.

Considering the first solution … well my 100 metre arse/back slide was actually pretty fast and I’m not sure that I will be able to control my speed. I’m getting these kind of slapstick cartoon clichés, whereby rolling down the mountain, I’ll turn into a giant snowball, picking up other skiers in my wake before finally crashing into the chalet at the bottom of the ski run. The second solution, therefore seems far more achievable, except I am rigid with fear still pinned/nailed down to this mountainside by what is no more than a self-induced, advanced neurotic state that I will now refer to as Post Traumatic Ski DisorderPTSkiD – something that I will suffer from for the rest of the holidays, to the point that putting on skis, and standing at the top of a run makes me want to be physically sick.

 

THESE BOOTS AIN’T MADE FOR WALKING

Fred and Ginger are one thing. I won’t be waltzing off this mountain, but now that some kind skier has retrieved my ski poles, then I’ll be walking off. I manage to stand up and now ; it is with Nancy Sinatra in my head that I precariously step and «sideways tip toe » my way down the rest of the slope. I look ridiculous. I don’t give a f***, there is nothing broken and … well a quick word on ski boots – they sure as hell ain’t made for walking.

So, I lived to tell the tale of my ski misfortune, but , unlike the song …

Don’t lose your confidence

If you slip

Be grateful for a pleasant trip

… actually getting your confidence back is one hell of a job.

ROOM 101

The next day, I get a mild panic attack in the cable car, that disgorges a crowd of keen skiers at the very top of a mountain, all with the one sole purpose, sliding down to the bottom on two lengths of laminated wood. What is the appeal? I used to like this. I used to be a reasonable skier at my own basic level and this morning’s run is hardly the stuff of Olympian downhill difficulty. The keen kamikaze skiers have all swished off down tortuous, semi suicidal black runs, and I am about to take a long lazy meandering green run that slithers like a dead snake on Valium. Nothing to fear, besides, I’ve already done this run, but, I’m sweating and shaking as I clamp on my skis, I want to be physically sick, and as the slow run starts, I just block.

A complete loss of confidence, you are there and not there and cannot move. « Get me the F*** outta here ! »

« One must confront one’s fear to overcome one’s fear. » This is the line my mum’s therapist used to spin her to get her back behind the wheel after a minor car accident – it never worked. I’m not a fan of this kind of therapy – I find it more Orwellian – Winston Smith in Room 101 – well that is how I feel right now.

In the end, my friends get me down the slope – but I still fall ten times in the process, and after this hapless and hopeless run, I feel useless, incapable, surplus to requirements and a burden on my ski friends. Dented pride is one thing, this is far more.

I can blame this on my skiiing. However when I ski on real snow, I’m not such a bad once-a-year, holiday skier

I can blame this on the poor quality snow, that isn’t really snow, but the recycled, manufactured stuff, blown across the slopes by snow machines and lying in a sparse covering like frozen icing sugar on a frozen mountain side. I haven’t been skiing, I have been ice skating with skis.

I can blame this on me. I hate taking risks, I hate leaving my comfort zone. I like to navigate in calm, shallow and familiar waters. It’s always alarm bells, panic stations and abandon ship when an ice cube sized iceberg « looms » on the horizon.

Hey, I’ll just do it like to song says

Don’t lose your confidence

If you slip

Be grateful for a pleasant trip

You gotta slip once to know how not to slip again.

*Pick Yourself Up – Music by Jerome Kern and Lyrics by Dorothy Field – featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in he 1936 musical « Swing Time. »

The Morning After.

Not a peice for those of a delicate post party disposition

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Oh to be young again, when the physical scars of a hard night’s partying seemed to heal miraculously in a few short hours.

Flatulence, belching, chronic indigestion, heartburn, gastric reflux, headache and vomiting; those probable unpleasant, pungent, painful and noisy side effects on the afternoon of the morning after the night before … or has it just been one long day that started somewhere in the hazy and undigested recall of the recent past?

Oh, the high price we pay for our brief epicurean episode. Oh, this strange idea of celebration and revelries; gorging ourselves to choking point or drowning in drink until once sensible beings become senseless incoherent idiots talking gibberish and seeing double.

The human body can only take so much, and, at some points, the warning lights will start flashing, the sirens start screaming and the “eject” system will switch into “auto” mode, unless of course you use manual mode and end up on your knees with two fingers down your confessing to the great white porcelain God.

It could have been so easy not to get that far. Everything in moderation. Just a little of what you fancy, but, this is a time for celebration and we go too far.

What is it all for? Welcoming the New Year or marking the demise of the old?

So, it has been a wonderful year and it is only fitting to mark its timely and pre destined demise with due epicurean reverence and revelries or, it has been a truly terrible year and therefore this is the time to exorcise our demons in a ritual ceremony of self destruction in the hope that the on the twelfth stroke of midnight, months of misadventures will mechanically melt away and everything will be better.

And it is in the grey dawn of a dazed and confused drink fuelled stupor that we awake. The post licentious limbo that is New Year’s Day – the fuzzy mourning that marks the first day.

As the day unwinds, so you rewind and then slowly replay the film of the night before. One long bad drunken B movie.

As the day unwinds you remember those you might have invited over for lunch, drinks, tea, dinner, at this time when you are having trouble keeping down your breakfast which was actually the last course of your all night dinner.

Time for booze free, green tea extreme vegan detox and this becomes your new best last resolution that you will keep for precisely two days.

What the hell! We all had a good time at the New Year’s party and we’ll all feel exactly the same at the same time next year.

Happy New Year Folks

THOU SHALL HAVE FUN (but without fireworks) OR “Making the Party Playlist”

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Thou Shall Have Fun

New Year’s Eve – party time – « Thou shall have fun » resounds the First New Year Commandment. No matter how awful you feel – you shall have fun, and as the clock strikes 12 and the new year begins, all your fears, troubles and problems will melt away like an ice cream in a micro wave oven ;

Ice Cream in the micro wave

Hey that is a rotten metaphor, who the F*** puts their ice cream in a micro wave ? Well I do folks – those small individual pots of Haggen Daz or Ben and Jerrys that I like to scoff in front of the TV – straight out of the freezer they are just too cold and I haven’t got the patience to leave them out long enough to melt just a little – so one minute on « defrost » in the microwave, just to thaw them out a little.

So, here am I trying to enter into the spirit of things for this, the last big festive hurdle of the year.

No Fireworks

Off to the « party » shop to buy few fireworks and bangers for tonight – I know it is still thick fog outside, but I had this dream of setting of huge rockets into the night sky – make a wish on a rocket, light the blue touch paper and then send it skywards before it explodes into a mass of mulitcoloured stars that fall back to earth – each star is part of my wish or my dream that I want to share with the world.

« Sorry » says the gum-chewing trainee down the party shop. We’re not allowed the sell fireworks this year. »

« Why ? » I ask

« It’s ‘cos it’s the law » she limply explains and chews

The manager comes over and explains that due to the current state of emergency in France, the sale of fireworks has been forbidden and under the state of emergency it is forbidden to let fireworks off from 26th December to 2nd January.

“I don’t want to blow anyone up” I persist.

We had all this last year – gangs of youths buying massive rockets and firing them at the police.

New Year’s Playlist

No matter, my contribution to the party will be musical – my new year’s playlist.

Something old

Something new

Something borrowed

Something blue

Looking for « old » songs with a new year’s theme. That U2 classic « New Year’s Day » , so when the adults are all drunk in the wee small hours, they can cavort around again pretending they are teenagers – much to the embarassment and disgust of their kids. I know there was also an ABBA song entitled « Happy New Year » – Oh dear, I’m not doing very well on this am I. What about a few tracks from those we have lost ? Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen … why not a blast of Debbie Reynolds ?

« Good morning, good morning – we’ve drunk the whole night through, good morning hangover to you…. » (revised lyrics)

Nostalgia – something else I have resolved to give up – Living in the past. (Jethro Tull ?) I had a nostalgia-driven pre-Christmas trip to London. I had promised myself to visit all those places from my past that had some kind of meaning. Too depressing, the past is dead and those places will never be the same. Talking about old times makes me acutely aware that I have more life behind me than I do in front of me. This year will be living in the present and the future. Go on, let’s have one nostalgia-driven track, that Bruce Springsteen classic « Glory Days. »

Something new ????? I’l leave that for the kids. I can’t think of any one single song this year that has made a lasting impression on me – come to think of it, I can’t really remeber any of this year’s songs. The first signs of dementia ? Well here’s one that got in the charts and I sing with the band – « Counting Stars » by One Republic .

Something borowed ? Guess I can find a decent cover version of an old song that is suitable for a New Year’s party  (I’ can’t think of anything for the moment)

Forget the « blues » – I swore that this would be the year I stopped singing the blues. Yeah, one or two blues tunes in the band répertoire, but no more. The blues is just so boring to listen to. I defy anyone to listen to more than three Robert Johnson songs without wanting to slit their wrists. I supose at relaunched the blues for my generation was when Eric Clapton went unplugged in 1992 and of course there was always the nostalgia around the Blues Brothers. I guess we all need somone to love, so I’ll at least have that one.

I would like to add some songs of hope to this. « Stairway to Heaven » is just too cheesy now, so I’ll opt for a song by Oasis entitled « Stay Young »

Hey! stay young and invincible

Cos we know just what we are

And come what may we’re unstoppable

Cos we know just what we are

Even at 51, I’ve got to stay young. Strange though, as I get older, I feel younger and it’s all those younger than me who tell me what to do. So to this play list I will also add. « My Generation » by the Who.

Of course we need fireworks, (even if they are against the law this year ) – so we’ll have some courtesy of Katie Perry – the lyrics are what I would wish for you all next year

« Ignite the light and let it shine. »

So, here is my playlist

New Year’s day                        U2

Happy New Year                     Abba

« Good Morning »                    Debbie Reynolds (from Singing in the Rain)

Diamond Dogs                        David Bowie

Glory Days                              Bruce Springsteen

Counting Stars                        One Republic

Somebody to Love                 Blues Brothers Version

Stay Young                             Oasis

My Generation                        The Who

Firework                                 Katy Perry

And finally

« Auld Lang syne » – and I don’t know what the words mean, but it is traditional.

Happy new year folks.

Bring In the Clowns

November 9th – driving home through the pouring rain. Progress is slow, there’s a long line of trucks on the ring road – huge semi trailers all painted up in the gaudy colours of the circus.

Sinister or funny or just sad?

Sinister or funny or just sad?

Hooray! The circus is in town. Accrobats, magicians, wild animals ans even a motorcycle stunt rider – thrills and spills for all the family in fully heated big top – oh, I forgot the clowns, but that’s because I don’t like clowns. At best they might raise a smile with their antics, and at worst, they are sinister, shadowy beings – that might be the fault of Stephen King.

In the run up to Halloween there was a spate of «clown scarings» in the UK – slightly deranged individuals dressing up as creepy clowns and jumping out on unsuspecting bystanders – of coure they filmed their antics and put them on youtube – Hey what’s funnier than some sad git dressed as a freaky clown, weilding a big plastic knife and following young, single women home in the dark???

Talking of clowns, they’re going to put one in the White House – yes I an referring to the clownesque Mr Trump. It started as a joke, Donald was a buffoon, the jester in the Presidential race with ideas so crazy that no one would ever vote for them – but they did.

Like I said, clowns just ain’t funny.