My Top 5 T.F.I. Friday Moments by Martyn Taylor

For those of you who were in a coma… or living in a monastery… or indeed not born in the late 90’s, here is a quick history lesson for you.

T.F.I Friday was a pop culture entertainment programme on Channel 4 that ran from 1996 until the year 2000. It was broadcast at 6 o’clock but was re-run later the same night for the last orders punters to see it. It was presented by Chris Evans, who was kind of the 90’s version of Piers Morgan, but, lets be honest, he wasn’t half as annoying and had a tad more charisma. Anyways, the programme was a combination of live music, interviews and comedy.

I’ve been watching a lot of clips on YouTube just lately, and its brought back a lot of memories for me, so for those that have carried on reading this far, or for them that actually give a toss, here are my top 5 moments that I remember.

5. The Regular Features.

The show ran many regular segments which covered all areas of the comedy spectrum. My personal favourites were ‘Fat Look-a-likes’ which is self explanatory (this spawned the much more controversial ‘Asian Look-a-likes’). ‘Freak or Unique’, which was a hidden (useless) talent show were the audience would decide if you were freak or unique. Cue the ‘Incredibly Tall Old Lady’

However my personal number 1 from the regulars was ‘Ugly Blokes’, were an unattractive gentleman would get the opportunity to turn down the advances of supermodel Catalina Guirado.

4. Sharleen Spiteri Beautiful?

I’ve been unable to find a clip of this on YouTube, but I think I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had never heard of Sharleen or her band Texas, but they were going to both perform and be interviewed on this particular show.

Chris Evans announced her onto the set as the “…most beautiful women he’d ever met…” (or some other form of admiration) and my ears pricked up!

Who was me out? A six foot, blonde, big boobed, Swedish supermodel?

No!

An average looking, average height, average size ( . ) ( . ), plain looking women with a broken nose turned up on set. I thought “she’s nothing special” but when she spoke, she had a rare thing, a Scottish accent. She then sung Al Green in acapella style, she had drawn me in and I was in love!

3. The best question ever asked?

While interviewing a relatively unknown, young Scottish actor (Yes, it’s Ewan McGregor) about his upcoming movie ‘Trainspotting’, Mr Evans asked one of the best questions and well timed comedy queries from the show.

Trainspotting is well known for being a film about heroine abuse, so Chris asked “…doesn’t it worry you slightly a little bit that young kids, they may be tempted to get…into acting…”

Now, reading it doesn’t do it justice, but just watch it in this clip. Its about 3 minutes in.

2. Shaun’s Shop.

Shaun Ryder was the top wild man of the 90’s music scene, and regularly showed up many an interviewer on British T.V.

T.F.I Friday set up a sitcom style segment for him to show off his personality at its best. ‘Shaun’s Shop’ was it, I reckon that if he hadn’t made it as a celebrity hell raiser, he would have been raising hell up and down the high streets of the U.K.

1. Slipknot’s arrival.

In 2000 had you heard of ‘Thrash metal’?… Me neither. When Slipknot were announced on the show, I was eating my tea, and I guarantee you, my knife and fork didn’t move for the whole of their performance.

It takes something special to stop me from eating, and they did it with their performance of ‘Wait and Bleed’. I don’t even like ‘Thrash Metal’ (as you know, I’m all about the Britpop) but I was mesmerized. I don’t think any performance on T.V had captured my attention like before and since like Slipknot did that day which is why it has made it as my number 1.

“…Rock ‘N’ Roll, the kids love it…”

 

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 31 year-old father of three and lives in Hull. His pastimes include watching 80s action films over and over again and and debating the all-time Premiership XI with Mr Miles. His knowledge of American sitcoms of the 90s stands second to none. He once walked into a men’s public lavatory absent-mindedly singing the theme tune from Two And A Half Men. You can find him on http://www.twitter.com/shirleysblower but he never tweets, so just follow him on here.

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The Monkeys on Their Backs…. By Martyn Taylor

Many bands work for their entire careers trying to get a signature sound or score a big hit single that they will always be remembered for. It might not be a sound that makes them well known, it might be a gimmick, memorable music video or their fashion sense. Slash had his top hat, Iron Maiden have ‘Eddie’ and Kiss have their over the top outlandish make-up. Once a sound picks up its own personal sound, they will more than likely find them selves stuck with it, no matter how far they try to remove them selves from it. Their future releases will always be compared to the debut, and they will always be stuck with this monkey on their back.

1. The Bluetones. These fellas were your typical post ‘Brit-pop’ era groups who hit the big time when their debut album ‘Expecting to Fly’ hit the shelves in early 1996. It sold bucket loads and went platinum in the U.K. The first single release off the album was ‘Slight Return’, and with the help of a re-release made it to number 2 in the charts (It was kept off the top spot by Babylon Zoo’s ‘Spaceman’) This brilliant song was their signature, but the whole album (although overlooked) was a cracker. ‘Slight Return’ is more than likely the only song off The Bluetones most people will know, despite them releasing 6 studio albums and 20 singles.

2. Supergrass. Ok, Ok, I know, another ‘Brit-pop’ band, but get used to it ‘cos it’s all I know! Supergrass were a bloody brilliant band, their debut album ‘I should Coco’ made us dream of a carefree life, and our silly youthful ideals made more sense when we listened to it (basically, it rocked!) Many great albums followed containing catchy tunes like ‘Moving’, ‘Grace’ and most memorably for me ‘Late in The Day’ The problem once again with Supergrass (as it was with The Bluetones) is that people couldn’t see past their biggest hit ‘Alright’, with its memorable chorus, guitar solo, and its, ‘of the time’ video, people would always favour and associate them with it.

Supergrass. A photo that proves that Charles Darwin was right.

Supergrass. A photo that proves that Charles Darwin was right.

3. Chumbawamba. Chumbawamba were a group made up of many colourful characters. Their career spanned over 3 decades, where they played punk influenced pop (if there ever could be such a thing) anarchistic music. Their songs often tackled subject matters such as animal rights, feminism and anti-fascism. Unfortunately writing songs about gay liberation and class struggles wasn’t paying the bills. They released their biggest mainstream hit ‘Tubthumping’ in 1997. Unfortunately, their hardcore fans didn’t favour them turning ‘face’. The millstone around their necks was the fact that they had seemed to have ‘sold out’, but they still protested against government, most famously at the 1998 Brit Awards where they changed the lyrics of their biggest hit to protest against the Labour Party’s treatment of the Liverpool Dockers, then going on to throw water over the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.


4. The Boo Radleys.
Here is an example of a hit single totally obliterating all of a bands previous good work. The Boo Radleys plodded through the early 90’s releasing typical northern guitar music (which isn’t a bad thing) but when they released their 1993 album ‘Giant Steps’ NME magazine awarded 9/10 and hailed it as “…an international masterpiece…”. They then went on to rank it second on their albums of the year (topped only be Bjork’s brilliant ‘Debut’). So things couldn’t have been rosier for the boys from Merseyside. Still relatively unknown , they released ‘Wake Off Boo!’ in the spring in 1995. Unfortunately for these guys, this would be their only hit single, and catchy as it was, it wasn’t a patch on the offerings on ‘Giant Steps’ and became a proverbial albatross on their careers. Things never really picked up them after the summer of 1995.

The Boo Radleys: "They want to use one of our songs in an advert you say? Cool... which one?"

The Boo Radleys: “They want to use one of our songs in an advert you say? Cool… which one?”

5. The Stone Roses. Now please wait for a minute while I big up these guys, after all, they are in my top 3 bands of all time. They were one of the most pioneering bands of my time. The Stone Roses released only 2 studio albums, but oh what albums they were. Their debut album was and still is considered as one of the greatest openers to a career, and ‘Second Coming’ their follow up, was a change up in style, but always tainted from the off because of the success of their debut (as I have noted previously in this blog here http://wp.me/p38ZXT-cE) The only thing that winds me up about these guys, is the fact any time you talk about the band with others, and ask which is your favourite song of theirs. 9 times out of 10 people will say ‘Fools Gold.’ For me ‘Fools Gold’, great as it is, would barely make it into my top 10 Stone Roses song. People probably say they favour ‘Fools Gold’ because it is played mostly on the radio these days.

No funny comment. Still one of the greatest bands of all time.

No funny comment. Still one of the greatest bands of all time.

I do hope that when listening to music, you don’t just listen to bands biggest hits. You might just find that you are missing out on the next ‘Giant Steps’ album or ‘Late in the Day’ song.

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 31 year-old father of three and lives in Hull. His pastimes include watching 80s action films over and over again and and debating the all-time Premiership XI with Mr Miles. His knowledge of American sitcoms of the 90s stands second to none. He once walked into a men’s public lavatory absent-mindedly singing the theme tune from Two And A Half Men. You can find him on http://www.twitter.com/shirleysblower but he never tweets, so just follow him on here.

 

Bands I didn’t Like, But Do Now…. By Martyn Taylor

As I wrote in a previous blog, the kind of music I listen to now is a lot different to the sort of stuff I used to like. My teenage years were dominated by generic indie bands that were aboard the ‘Britpop’ gravy train. I have already told you about the 5 bands that I used to like but no longer do (which you can find a link for here  https://sittingontheswings.com/2014/01/16/bands-i-liked-but-dont-now-by-martyn-taylor/) so I feel it is time for me to produce the 5 acts that I never held a flame for in my youth, but have now, not only grown to love, but idolise.

1. Pulp. These reluctant ‘Britpop’ figures formed in 1978 and struggled for a decade or so trying to gain prominence in the U.K. By the mid-90’s they hit the big time with their Disco influenced pop infused social commentary (try saying that after a few drinks) Their 3 90’s album releases spawned many sing-along classics The reason why I didn’t like appreciate Pulp at the time was simple. I didn’t like Jarvis Cocker! His styling was totally against the grain of the time. He was never seen in a parker, and his ‘Weed in tweed’ fashion was not attractive to me. Luckily in my more recent years, I have grown to overlook his appearance, and now love Pulps 3 90’s masterpieces.

2. The Smiths. By the time The Smiths were known to me in the early 90’s, they had already split and Morrissey was already well into his more successful solo career. During the 80’s The Smiths poetic commentary from the council estates defined an era in Thatcher’s Britain. They were later known as the most influential British group of the decade. I know what you’re thinking: “how could he not like them?” My brother idolised Morrissey. He wore turned up jeans, NHS glasses and sported a quiff even Elvis himself would envy. My Bro would play all the of the Smiths’ brilliant albums over and over again on his tape deck in the bedroom we shared. He wouldn’t let me play my Jive Bunny cassettes so I took it out on The Smiths hating them Nowadays, the red mist has lifted and my admiration for Morrissey and The Smiths is still growing.

Nearly thirty years later, Johnny's hair is suspiciously still the same colour.

Nearly thirty years later, Johnny’s hair is suspiciously still the same colour.

3. Radiohead. Thom Yorke and his falsetto voice haunted the airwaves of Radio 1 in the 90’s. Radiohead had an expansive sound and themes of alienation which propelled them to international fame. Their dramatic change in style at the turn of the century could have been career suicide, but it turned them from celebrated rockers, into championed experimental digital stars. Mr Yorke and his wonky eyes, quirky lyrics and massive student following made me dislike the band. I hated everything to do with the student scene. However my dislike of all things student was only a phase, and I now see that I was missing out on a revolution, and some of the all time greatest albums had passed me by. Radiohead released great rock albums, but their early rock evolved into one of my favourites of all time in O.K Computer.

Normally, a man who looked like this would be asking you for a pound so he could "get into the hostel tonight."

Normally, a man who looked like this would be asking you for a pound so he could “get into the hostel tonight.”


4. Nirvana.
The death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 was massive news worldwide at the time. I couldn’t have given a toss! I didn’t know him, his band, his music or problems. I thought I should check it out. I didn’t like it! It was noise to me. I went to my 2 Unlimited C.D and Adidas trackies. When I left school in 1998, I caught a recording of Nirvana Unplugged on MTV . Kurt’s version of Bowies ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ was pure brilliance. It led me to revisit Nirvana’s albums and renew my interest in them. Cobain’s death left many questions unanswered. The question I’d like answered is, what might have come next?

Someone's just told Kurt the wife's on the phone.

Someone’s just told Kurt the wife’s on the phone.

And finally
5. Take That.
This choice might seem a little strange considering what I have picked already. During my Kelvin Hall days I hated all Boy Bands. I was into ‘Britpop’, and girls snubbed us because we didn’t possess Boy Band good looks. Take That had the cheeky one, the cute one, the song writer, the dancer and the other one. Their split in 1996 was celebrated among me and my friends. When I look back now, I don’t think there was a single song that they released that I didn’t like. When they reformed in 2006 as a Man Band, I was surprised by the quality of Gary Barlow’s writing and was converted as a fan. In 2010 Robbie Williams re-joined to complete the original line up, they were rejuvenated and were more entertaining than ever. Up yours Justin Bieber!!!

 

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 32 year-old father of three and lives in Hull. His pastimes include watching 80s action films over and over again and and debating the all-time Premiership XI with Mr Miles. His knowledge of American sitcoms of the 90s stands second to none. He once walked into a men’s public lavatory absent-mindedly singing the theme tune from Two And A Half Men. You can find him on http://www.twitter.com/shirleysblower but he never tweets, so just follow him on here.

Bands I Liked, But Don’t Now….By Martyn Taylor

The kind of music I listen to now is a lot different to the sort of music I listen to these days. During my teenage years in the 1990’s and early 00’s I listened to bands that were not a challenge to understand. There was nothing better at the time to than listening to the latest ‘Tubthumping’ anthemic release from whatever group was in fashion that particular week. It seemed that every week a new copycat Britpop band were debuting a new album. Back then I couldn’t get enough of these clones. There were a few acts in particular that I liked at the time, but now that I look back, it seems my judgement was clouded. I’ve picked 5 bands that I liked to listen to back in the day, but don’t rate very highly any more. They all helped to define an era for me, but their flimsy, lightweight material hasn’t stood the test of time..

1. Space. These cheeky chappys from Liverpool formed in 1993 but hit the big time in 1996 with the success of their debut album ‘Spiders’ Their hit singles ‘You and Me Against the World’ and ‘Neighbourhood’ featured predominantly on britflick ‘Shooting Fish’ Lead singer Tommy Scotts singing style was comical, and their use of hip-hop style mixing was imaginative. Unfortunately their dark-humoured singles which had grabbed my attention didn’t carry on through their albums. Listening to ‘Tin Planet’ (their second release) it seemed my uneducated ears would listen to any old garbage.

Space. One of the men in this photo tried to sell you a PPI rebate over the phone last week.

Space. At least one of the men in this photo tried to sell you a PPI rebate over the phone last week.

2. Sleeper. A hot chick with a guitar! What wasn’t there to like about Sleeper? My teenage hormones were in over drive. However, it seemed that aside from a couple of catchy guitar rifts and singable choruses, Sleeper were ‘just another girl fronted band’ riding on the coat-tails of success of Elastica. Sleeper had great success with their 3 albums, and while supporting Blur on their ‘parklife’ tour were touted as the next big thing. It seems to me that the allure of Sleeper was not their music, but their guitar clad goddess lead singer Louise Werner.

3. Shed Seven. It was good to see a band from York in the charts, their ballads like ‘Chasing Rainbows’ and ‘Going for Gold’ had lighters in the air at festivals in the mid 90’s. Indie discos were not complete without a stomp around the dance floor to ‘Disco Down’ or ‘She Left Me On Friday’ Looking back now, Rick Witter’s vocals were dull and the band do not grab my attention anymore. I do reckon that if they had been around 5 years earlier, their style would of fitted better.

Rick Witter of Shed Seven. Cool it, girls.

Rick Witter of Shed Seven. Cool it, girls.

 

4. Dodgy. Not many bands define a year as well as Dodgy, well, not quite a year, more like a season. The sound of summer 1996 will always be ‘Good Enough’ by the band. barbeques across the land sang out to it, Their bleach blond locks set the trend , with everyone from Robbie Williams to Gazza sporting a peroxide dye. However I feel it was one of the members relationship with Denise Van Outen that kept up the publics interest in the band rather than the bands music.

5. Coldplay. I always liked Coldplay’s debut album ‘Parachutes’, I’ve even stuck up for it in arguments with my good friend Allen Miles. Mr Miles played his trump card on me though last summer. While out enjoying a summer drink in town, Al handed me a HMV carrier bag containing ‘Grace’ by Jeff Buckley. Al had listed it at number 14 in his ‘Top 30 albums of all time’ here on Sitting on the Swings, but I had never heard it. After a few drinks I went home and gave ‘Grace’ a good listening to, Al had won! It seems to me, and anybody that has ever heard ‘Grace’ would know that ‘Parachutes’ is not only a poor imitation, but a blatant copy of Jeff Buckleys masterpiece. Coldplay didn’t just take inspiration, they straight up ripped it off! On their subsequent albums Coldplay have ripped off Radiohead, Kraftwerk, Joe Satriani and U2. I now hate them!

If this man wasn't a musician, he would work at a Holland and Barratt's. What a wanker.

If this man wasn’t a musician, he would work at a Holland and Barratt’s. What a wanker.

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 32 year-old father of three and lives in Hull. His pastimes include watching 80s action films over and over again and and debating the all-time Premiership XI with Mr Miles. His knowledge of American sitcoms of the 90s stands second to none. He once walked into a men’s public lavatory absent-mindedly singing the theme tune from Two And A Half Men. You can find him on http://www.twitter.com/shirleysblower but he never tweets, so just follow him on here.

Why Everything Was Better Before (Part 3) by Allen Miles

I used to be an absolute slave to nostalgia. In my early-to-mid-twenties it had genuinely taken over my way of thinking because I got it into my head that my life could never be as good as it had been at certain points before. I would spend huge amounts of time by myself with a bottle of wine just harking back to times that I rated as the best of my life and I would never look to the future. It was an idiotic and petulant way to behave, but as the hangover count started to slide from two hundred a year to two dozen, it became clear that I was still a young man, and life was there to be lived. So for a while, the nostalgia was gone.

Yet recently, regular reminiscences have taken place while I’m up late alone on my sofa with another bottle of wine, battering at my keyboard. It all started when I became re-united with my best childhood friend, and co-founder of this site, Martyn. After we left high school, Martyn and I lost touch as he took an apprenticeship and I went to Sixth Form; it sounds like quite a flimsy reason to go our separate ways but it seemed like a huge divide at the time. Over the next ten years Mr Taylor would do lots of very worthy and important things like buying a house, getting married and raising a family, whereas I would spend the decade drinking and behaving like a piece of scum. I did however, end up working with Martyn’s mother-in-law, Dot, and at her fiftieth birthday party four years ago, we got talking again and it was like we’d never been away. Since then, a section of every conversation we’ve had, in the pubs around the area in which we grew up, has been dedicated to stuff we did as kids. Having read Martyn’s Sitting Room diatribe in which he ranted about things not being as good as he once remembered them,  I began to analyze my own recollections of childhood.

The dodgiest character in a TV show since Dirt Barry from Only Fools and Horses.

The dodgiest character in a TV show since Dirty Barry from Only Fools and Horses.

Nothing takes you back to your own childhood like having a child of your own, and when Gabbers is old enough to look back on her infant years, I’d like to hope that she does it with fondness, rather than suspicion. She won’t know until she’s much older that Mr Fox from Peppa Pig is a dodgy, Mickey Pearce-type spiv, or that Madame Gazelle has a picture of the first Velvet Underground album, which features a song called “Heroin”, on her wall, nor will she know that, as myself and my friend Gemma regularly discuss, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom is full of innuendo and politics. She just wants to jump up and down in muddy puddles. So that made me think, which of my childhood phases seem sinister or subversive through the benefit of adult hindsight?

I don’t remember the summers. Not a single memory I have is illuminated with the June-to-August  HU5 sunshine until the age of about thirteen. My childhood memories are of streetlights reflecting in October puddles with the stench of Hull Fair hotdogs wafting in on the autumn mist; they are of sitting on walls in the February half term beneath a endlessly grey skies with a couple of mates and just being utterly bored. My very first memory is of watching live footage of Valley Parade burning down in 1985 from my late grandparents’ living room while playing with my “numbers and letters.” My next-earliest memory is being driven in my dad’s tiny red work van to buy He-Man figures from Beal’s down Endike Lane. And there we have the first phase. He-Man figures.

He-Man figures in the mid eighties cost about £3.50 each and were made by Mattel. It is probably the most famous action figure line of all time and obviously tied in with the American cartoon, He-Man and The Masters Of The Universe. As a six year-old, I loved it. So much, in fact, that between the years 2002-2006 I actually modelled my haircut on his. I remember, how, as a callow child, I would get a rush of euphoria at the moment in each episode when Prince Adam would metamorphosize into massive, muscle bound He-Man with the triumphant Top Gun-style music in the background. It was all very wholesome, good vs evil stuff, and no-one was ever killed. So surely there was no adult-only undercurrent here?

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!!!

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!!!

Hmmm… ok. Look at He-Man, with his golden bob, sculpted torso, hairless chest and furry little pants. And look at his arch enemy, Skeletor, in his black leather studded basque-type thing and his S&M style-hood. And look at the names of some of the other characters in the show; Beast Man, Tung Lashor, Ram-Man, Whip-Lash, Rokk-On, Extendar and, of course, Fisto. Yep, He-Man is the gayest thing in the history of the universe. No wonder no-one ever killed each other, after that week’s particular battle was won or lost they probably all jumped in a hot tub together and got Teela to serve them Babycham whilst listening to a Judy Garland LP.

Fisto and He-Man. I'm not going to caption this.

Fisto and He-Man. I’m not going to caption this.

In hindsight, it’s actually quite an achievement to get such an obvious homosexual message into a mainstream TV show, especially in Republican 80s America, right under the noses of Jerry Falwell and his horrible friends, but I can’t shake the feeling that the writers and producers of this show were all sniggering behind their hands as I handed my hard earned pocket money over for my brand new King Randor figure, there with his meticulous George Michael-style beard, wielding his magic staff.

After the He-Man figures, and brief dalliances with Transformers and Lego, neither of which I regret, came Christmas 1989 when my kid brother Andy and I received our first video game console, the Sega Master System. We spent pretty much every penny of birthday and Christmas money over the next two or three years on Sega games, which were about thirty quid each at the time, meaning we got about five a year. It was an event when we got a new one, we would take weeks deciding which one to buy after reading the reviews in S Magazine over and over again. All the characters and graphics and artwork were really Japanese-y because there were no British software designers back then, and the manuals made about as much sense as professional imbecile Stacy Solomon trying to explain the theory of relativity.

The tiger has just tried to read the instructions.

The tiger has just tried to read the instructions.

The first game we got, for some reason, (possibly due to my dad being pissed) was Great Baseball, in which featureless players in red or blue would scuttle across the field as if they had severe bowel difficulties and when you actually managed to make contact with the (squarish) ball the TV would make a “crowd noise,” which I’ve only heard replicated since when I tried to make my hoover suck up some cat sick. We would get others over the coming months and years, my favourite one was called Psycho Fox, a Mario-clone in which you guided a P.E. kit-wearing fox over various landscapes with a little black bird sat on your shoulder that you could throw at your enemies. Again, it was incredibly Japanese, again it made no sense and it had bizarre characters in it. But we loved it. The whole shebang of video games in the late eighties/early nineties was a completely alien world, all of it was steeped in oriental culture and myths and what not but looking back now all the artwork seemed so beautiful and the bleepy-bloppy sounds that came from the TV sounded so weird. A year or so ago, I downloaded the SMS emulator for my laptop, which allows you to play these games on your PC, and I bought an HDMI cable, which allows you to plug your PC into your telly, and I bought a joypad off ebay which would enable me to have a go on the games without having to use the laptop keyboard, so there I was, ready for my nostalgia trip, about to play the games I’d enjoyed so much as a nine year old, on the telly with a joypad as they were meant to be played. And…

They weren’t very good.

What an absolute pisser, eh? They were really simplistic, they were unbelievably slow and the sounds were absolutely terrible. One of the worst things about them is that you couldn’t save your progress. If you wanted to finish the majority of the games you’d have to do it in one sitting, which would probably take four or five hours. A nine or ten year-old shouldn’t be spending that much time in front of a tv screen moving garishly-coloured blobs across an equally garish background to a soundtrack that was scraped from the Aphex Twin’s waste paper basket. Why weren’t we outside playing football? I haven’t bought a videogame since 1997, it is an area I don’t have a great deal of interest in, and this, along with the Super Nintendo a couple of years later, is how I think of them. I wish I hadn’t re-visited Sega games. I’ve ruined yet another of my memories. But not as much as the next one.

In early 1992, the advent of Sky television, along with one of the all-time classic Panini sticker albums (obviously Italia 90 was the best ever), meant the latest craze in the playground of Appleton Primary School, HU5, was WWF wrestling. How we loved watching those muscle-bound cartoon characters prancing round in their tights and punching each other in the mullet. I remember the first major event that we all took notice of, The Royal Rumble 1992, which was 30 wrestlers coming out at set intervals and being eliminated by being hoiked out over the top ropes. It was won by the legendary Ric Flair, who basically looked like Lieutenant Drebin from Naked Gun in a pair of black pants, and we all looked forward to his title defence against “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Wrestlemania 8. Even though, at the age of ten/eleven, we knew it was fake, we still wondered who would win the matches, we still thought that somehow there was some sport involved. Looking back now, you can’t deny the dazzling showmanship of Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, The Rock and so on, and no-one can argue that it’s very easy to fake what happens at 1:45 here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=569DaOPtHd4 but it’s not a sport, it’s never been a sport. It’s a performance, yet at the age of eleven we honestly thought that it was a honest and clean enterprise, involving athletes who adhered to sporting regulations.

Davey-Boy claimed to have got his ridiculous physique from eating lots of Shredded Wheat.

Davey-Boy claimed to have got his ridiculous physique from eating lots of Shredded Wheat.

Jaysus. How wrong we were. With the blessing/curse of the internet, it is very easy to find out what was going on behind the scenes back then. And how terribly dark it all was. To give you the most upsetting example, the WWF came to Wembley Stadium a few months later, at Summerslam 92, which was such a big deal at the time that even the UK tabloids were covering it, there were guest spots on the likes of GMTV, Going Live and (90s classic here) Gamesmaster. The main event centred around the English wrestler, Wigan’s own Davey-Boy Smith, attempting to win the belt from the Canadian Bret “Hitman” Hart. And obviously he did in front of his own crowd in his own national stadium, as it was scripted and it was all very triumphant and inspiring and all the rest of it, but what we didn’t know at the time is that Smith didn’t know what planet he was on during the match, as he’d spent the previous two weeks monged off his nut on a massive crack bender, and Hart, who was his real life brother-in-law, had to drag him, step-by-step, through every routine they were meant to be doing in the ring. Smith would be dead at the age of forty, having been pumped full of steroids for fifteen years of his life, and looking like someone had plugged a bouncy castle pump into one of his orifices and forgotten to switch it off. You look back as an adult on the promo interviews that they all did and realise that an estimated 75% of the world’s cocaine in the late 80s/early nineties was being consumed by these people (the rest was making its way through Paul Merson) and its completely unsurprising to see how many of them are dead today. Many died through drugs/steroids, there were quite a few suicides, and the less said about what Chris Benoit did the better. What a horrible business.

So there you go. Three of my most fondly remembered childhood phases ruined by the benefit/hinderance of hindsight. Here are a few more brief annihilations of my memories:

If you were born between 1979 and 1983, chances are your favourite film when you were a kid was the one that starred this bloke. State of him.

"I wouldn't let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ass." People say that to him in real life now.

“I wouldn’t let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ass.” People say that to him in real life now.

Hero Quest: didn’t understand it then. Don’t understand it now.

When I was seven this was my favourite song. It’s absolutely terrible. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAJIAO_NA3E

Rosie and Jim: a few months ago, myself, Mr Alderson and Mr Woodmansey watched an episode of this at my house on a Classic CITV weekend on Sky. It is the most boring programme I think I’ve ever seen.

Fun House: Great show and all, but Pat Sharp’s haircut is the showbiz equivalent of Stonehenge. No-one has quite worked it out.

In closing, there’s a reason why you grow out of things, and it’s because they only appeal to you when you’re of a certain age. So very few things retain that magic that they had when we were young. A period of nostalgia can be like a hangover in many ways: a mild one is a bittersweet reminder of what happened yesterday, and an intense one makes you wonder what the hell you were thinking while you sit feeling sorry for yourself. Some things from childhood are still brilliant; Roald Dahl books, Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, classic Match Of The Day DVDs and Dangermouse are all regularly enjoyed by myself in my thirty-second year, but the rest of it was of a time and a place and can’t be re-visited. To paraphrase Dr Samuel Johnson: “nostalgia is the last refuge of the moron.”

And they don’t make writers like him anymore.

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014

Al’s Top 30 Albums Of All Time – No. 17

17. Oasis – This Is History – Live At Knebworth

oasis knebworth

A short disclaimer: This album is a bootleg of a Radio 1 show that was broadcast sometime in August 1996. I know that, strictly speaking, it isn’t a real album, but somewhere, in a parallel universe, some geek is sat with a pad and pencil, tallying up every time I play each album I own. This will be number one. And it’s my website, so I’ll do as I bloody well like. Yeah.

The popular backlash towards Oasis these days is something that completely baffles me. Look at the state of music as it is now, on its arse, in 2013. Mumford and Sons are headlining Glastonbury and a group of wimps who name their children after fruit, got bullied at school and called themselves Coldplay are the biggest band in the world. If you were told that you could preside over the peak of one of the ten best rock bands ever, with a motor-mouth frontman who had the stage presence of a Moss Side Marlon Brando and a guitarist who is the single greatest exponent of the rock and roll song that britain has ever produced, would you really slag them off for running out of ideas a few years later? Would you shite.

This record is a document of one of the very zeniths of British music. As we look back over our shoulders nearly twenty years later and sneer at the horrific things Britpop spawned (Shed Seven, basically) it is worth mentioning that the five acts at the core of the genre, Oasis, Blur, Suede, Pulp and Supergrass, still have catalogues that hold up today and haven’t dated as much as you think they might have done. As I’m sure my fellow SOTS writer, Mr Featherstone will also attest to, it is difficult to describe the sheer visceral thrill of discovering Oasis; personally I first heard them on a Sky Sports season review show in which Live Forever and Some Might Say were used as background tracks, and I instantly loved them. This was massive music that played to the lowest common instinct, you didn’t have to think too hard about it, you just put the CD in the drive and pressed play.

Despite the fact that Noel incorporates Octopus’s Garden into the end of Whatever, and the album ends with a colossal amping up of I Am The Walrus, here Oasis are more The Who than The Beatles, all slashing guitars and enormous anthemic choruses. The chorus to Acquiesce, after Liam rants in the verse that he doesn’t know what keeps him going but he knows there is something, somewhere, then Noel bellows “We neeeeeeeeed each other, we belieeeeeeeeeeve in one another.” It is one of the most obvious statements of co-dependence in all of music, and if you look at the way the Gallagher brothers careers re heading post-Oasis, it is still painfully prevalent.

The magic moments on this album are too numerous to detail. The bridge to the second chorus of Morning Glory, where Liam snarls the umpteenth f-word of the night; the outro of Some Might Say, with both brothers screaming over the top of each other; exciting new linguistic developments such as “Sunsheeeeeeiiineeah!” Alan White’s heart stopping drum break after the guitar solo in Don’t Look Back In Anger, prelude to the third reading of The Greatest Chorus Of All Time; the sheer explosiveness of the vocal to Slide Away; the little extra flourish in the solo on Live Forever; and special guest star John Squire’s unbelievable axe-work during the penultimate song, Champagne Supernova.

Daft old Robbie Williams aside, we will not see a band or artist who can put on this type of spectacle ever again, the era of the truly massive band is over now. But every facet of that era is over. Think back to 1996, just for a moment. Remember The Fast Show and Nelson Mandela coming to England and Stuart Pearce’s penalty and Adidas Gazelle and Crash Bandicoot and Father Ted and Beckham’s goal from halfway and the euphoria drawn from the fact that John Major was a dead-man walking. Oasis were your soundtrack to all of that. And now, as we watch David Cameron get porky while our society contracts anaemia and Coldplay wank on about making trade fair, we wonder what this country is lacking.

Rock and Roll.

And Oasis were real good at Rock and Roll.

Best Tracks: Morning Glory, Slide Away, The Masterplan

Best Moment: The to-and-fro between Liam and Noel as they walk on stage:
Noel: This is history! Right here! Right now! History!
Liam: I thought it was Knebworth!
(Cue the sound of 150,000 slapped thighs.)

Like this? Try: From Here To Eternity by The Clash, 1999

profile b and wAllen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014

Why Everything Was Better Before (Part 2) by Allen Miles

A few days ago, I took refreshments with Messrs Salmond, Ware, and Davis, three good friends of mine. Jon casually mentioned that a few hours earlier, he had received his new mobile phone. One of our party, possibly me, asked him which model it was and what features it had. We all sat there and incredulously shook our heads as Jon reeled off the preposterous list of actions his new phone could perform, one of which is if you’re watching a video and look away from the screen, the eye sensor pauses the video for you, then he finished with a knowingly ironic smile and the line “…oh yeah, and it can make calls and send texts too.”

For those of you not from the North of England, these packets are about two inches long.

For those of you not from the North of England, these packets are about two inches long.

I am terrified of modern technology. I instinctively mistrust anything that was invented after 1999. When I got my first mobile, it had a screen the size of half a packet of TABS (remember them?) and looked like it was made from Duplo (remember that?) I mainly used it to text Andrew while we were both drunk in the small hours of a Sunday morning. We texted each other punk slogans and thought we were clever. Over the course of the next five or six years, mobiles got smaller and smaller until you were effectively talking into the afore-mentioned packet of TABS. Then, as manufacturers realised that the screen could be the selling point, they got bigger and bigger again. My own mobile has a surface area roughly the size of a small breadboard. I don’t want it. It has brought nothing but distraction to my life, it seems to have given me carpel tunnel syndrome and I can’t wear my favourite mod-cut brown Farah’s anymore because it doesn’t fit in the pockets. I hate it. I fucking loathe it, but I am well aware that if it was taken away from me for just one day, my loved ones would have to manacle me to my bed while I screamed my tonsils out and Kelly McDonald sang Temptation by New Order in the corner of the room, dressed in a school uniform. Even when the battery goes dead I have to sit down and take a valium.

...and I've never met anyone quite like you before...

…and I’ve never met anyone quite like you before…

The main gripe I have with the modern mobile phone is that if you make a dick of yourself somehow, within seconds everyone knows. This mainly happens on nights out when you’ve had lots to drink. Many moons ago, it was an event when someone took a crappy little wind-and-click disposable camera to a pub or club. You’d keep one eye on your alcohol level because you wouldn’t want the one copy of the photo that was taken to get passed round all your mates over a period of weeks showing you to be dribbling sick out of the corner of your mouth whilst trying to dislodge your shirt flap from your fly. I remember when I was about twenty one I threw a tantrum for days because someone had taken a photo of me in Room one night and I decided that my shirt didn’t go with my jeans. If only that was all we had to worry about now! Now, because Facebook and Twitter are all integrated into practically every mobile you buy, if you do end up laying on a park bench belly-up like a dead goldfish with WANKER written across your forehead in eyebrow pencil, everybody you know will instantly be able to see it and have a good old giggle at your self-inflicted humiliation. My friend Emma, whose sole-purpose on this planet is apparently to laugh at my misery, took a picture of me a wee bit worse for wear in an old town pub a few months ago, with my eight chest hairs on show, mugging camply at the camera. Within seconds of this instantly regrettable photo-shoot, my old school-mate Kate Rylatt, who lives in New Zealand and whom I haven’t seen in person for nineteen years, would have been able to see this depiction of complete embarrassment . The next few hours of my life were absolute hell as I desperately invented potential rumours about sexual depravity with enormous vegetables in order to force Emma to remove the photo from her Facebook wall. Which she eventually did, but not before leaving me hanging in abject torture well into the middle of the next day. Had that have been an actual photo that was taken with a disposable camera back in the day, scurrilous rumours would have abounded between my mates of a ridiculous picture of me posing like a cadaverous cross between Mick Jagger and Disco Stu, but they wouldn’t see it for another three weeks, by which time they wouldn’t care anymore, and I could seize the negative.

Another thing I hate about my new fangled mobile is the e-bay application (I’m not going to say “app,” call me pretentious if you want, I don’t give a fuck) that I have for it. An innocent enough piece of software, you may think, handy if you’ve bid on something and you’re away from your computer when the end of the auction is near; you can check how it’s going and continue to bid. Yes, in theory its brilliant, but as I’ve already alluded to, I spend a great deal of time drunk, and when you’ve had a few, you suddenly become absolutely determined not to be outbid on the highly collectable resin statue of Stiletto from Dangermouse that you saw a few days ago, and in the sober light of day bid a speculative £2.00 on. All of a sudden, you’re in a bidding war thats going down to the wire, and as you finish your ninth pint, you get the special gong sound on your phone, informing you that the 80s cartoon figure that will go straight in your loft is yours for a winning bid of £17.50. Shit. This is why I haven’t downloaded any gambling applications onto it. If I did, I would be bankrupt, divorced and childless before I managed to plug my charger in.

I also have video games on my phone. No, before you ask, not that one, but ones such as Angry Birds, Cut The Rope and absurdly, every Sega Master System game ever made. Back in the very early nineties, my kid brother Andy and I would spend every penny of birthday money we got on Sega games, we asked for them for every Christmas and if we ever came into a few quid for whatever reason a nine year old and seven year old did, we would always put it towards a Sega game. The dearest ones cost about £30, and the budget range varied from £10 to £20. It was a proper occasion when we got a new game, you had to go down a special aisle in Toys R Us with your ticket and everything. We managed to accumulate about twenty games between us over the course of two or three years, and they took up two rows of the bookshelf we had in our shared bedroom down Bricknell Ave. Now, in 2013, I’ve got two hundred and odd of them on my phone, which fits in my pocket. The emulator thing cost 79p, the games were all free off the internet. The dream is over. My childhood is dead and buried and being pimped over a file-sharing network for people to play on their mobiles while they’re sat on the bus/train/toilet. Bollocks.

In 2013, all this that you see here is the size of

In 2013, all this that you see here, along with a big wooden-cased television, has been condensed to the size of a Ryvita.

113 Applications, 902 photographs, 89 text message alerts, 121 ringtones, The Complete Works of George Orwell, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemmingway and Cormac McCarthy, along with a further 188 e-books. I can control this website from it, I can record programmes on my Sky+ with it. I can use it to tune my guitar, or to find out whether a certain type of toaster is in stock at my local Argos. I have dozens of episodes of Peppa Pig on it to entertain my two-year-old daughter, and I can get world news, football scores and directions to anywhere in the country within seconds. Oh yeah, and it can make calls and send texts as well…

Thank you Samsung. You ruined my life.

Do you remember Snake on the old Nokias? I liked that.

I’m off to decide which 3D live wallpaper defines my personality…

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx