Monthly Archives: June 2014

Glastonbury: the View from the Sofa

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Glastonbury has wrapped up its fun for another year, with Michael Eavis announcing that 2020 may be its last ever year. The floral headbands have been packed away, the glitter mopped up and the litter swept but the music remains on BBC’s iplayer for the next month. There were a lot of highlights in a year with a few eccentric headline choices. Arcade Fire headlining the Pyramid stage on Friday night brought nothing but a resolute “meh” from me. They’re just not my cup of tea and their songs aren’t strong enough for that slot, I felt. The highlight of their show was a group in the crowd who had adorned their clear plastic umbrellas with fairy lights so that it looked like a group of jellyfish were bobbing around. Metallica on the other hand- I’m not really a metal fan but they rocked. I especially enjoyed their more down beat moments such as “Nothing Else Matters.” They won the award for most people on the back of their stage and best rock posturing, with their guitarist choosing to get round the stage by means of hopping like a Russian dancer.

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Lana Del Rey gave an ice cool- if short- show. She gets a lot of stick but I like her intriguing broken valley doll shtick and understated performing.

Lily Allen brought half the site’s entire colour quota with her rainbow hair and pink and gold Vivienne Westwood drapery. She looked wicked. She’s sometimes an unconvincing performer, but there were a few gems in her show, especially the closer “Not Fair”.

 

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Lykke Li gave an expectedly spooky performance: all slicked down hair and giant cuffs, quivering out of the mist like a Scandi troubadour for the beautiful and the damned. One of my favourite performances.

 

Jake Bugg put in another cool performance, nonchalantly throwing out awesome riffs like discarded empties, as if it comes so naturally to him (which it obviously does). That only makes it sexier.

Dolly Parton took up the legends slot of Sunday 5pm on the Pyramid stage and was just as a much of a pocket-sized peroxide dynamo as we all hoped. I especially enjoyed the rendition of Jolene, which still sounded from the heart despite the thousands of time she must have sung it. She explained that the song was based in truth and about a real woman and you could feel the genuine heartache that informs lines like “he talks about you in his sleep.” I was looking to see if she was miming as her voice sounded so good, but I don’t think she was. I think she had a backing track but was singing live too. Her cartoon proportions wiggled and giggled joyously, showing off myriad musical talent, the only lowlight being the cringeworthy Mud Song but you can forgive the woman who wrote Jolene for that.

Kasabian nearly exploded in a bluster of bragaddacio and pomp and were fanastic for it. Everyone hates them, but I like ethir unreconstructed and unironic lad pop rock. Firing rockets, strechcing the crowd singalong as far as it could go, wearing sunglasses at night… their set was pure, unadulterated ego stroking the best kind. Their old stuff sounded better to me but they’ve enough stompers like “Fire” and “Fast Fuse.” “Crazy” made a welcome return as a cover, sounding as good as it ever has.

Jack White continues his one mean music factory, attempting to single handedly make up for the quarters of music that lack real musicianship, with his wild, free-wheeling, manic blues rock. The Black Keys did their usual moody, ear-catching rock but I fell asleep during their set. No reflection on them, I was hungover. Bombay Bicycle Club sounded great with their shimmery, light psychedelia.

 

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I only saw a tantalising amount of Goldfrapp on Saturday so will check out their full show as Alison is the show woman all other show women should take notes from. I still vividly remember being at the front of the Other Stage at their 2004 show, my first proper time at the festival, where she flaunted a horse’s tail and played a theremin with her crotch. I will still check out Paola Nutini, Foster the People and many more.

 

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Royal Blood

George Ezra was the discovery of the weekend, with his big raw manly voice in a young dude’s body. I don’t know why Royal Blood’s set was so short. They make an ungodly sound that I want more of.

Best dancing goes to the red-trousered lead singer of the Daptones. Best playing face to Este of Haim’s “bass face.” The BBC’s coverage was warm, lavish and fond: they sent more staff to Glastonbury than to the World Cup. I liked Mark Radcliffe and Lauren Laverne’s relaxed presenting, though I did see a lot more of that giant spider than I wanted, or needed to, and there was a grasshopper style coverage meaning I didn’t always see as much of the acts as I wanted, but that’s necessary at such a huge event. Music geeks like myself can gorge themselves on the coverage, as I have done today. Bring on next year.

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Last Night’s TV

Another instalment of Celebrity Masterchef brought five new contestants, some more dodgy cooking and even dodgier facial procedures, as seen on Lesley Ash and TV presenter (apparently) Tania Bryer (?). I do not want to sound bitchy, as I am not criticising the women who have these procedures but a society that makes them feel they would rather risk surgery that can go horribly wrong (as it did in Ash’s case) rather than age naturally. The older men look normal, the older women look…not right, is the most diplomatic way I can put it.

Their first task was to make a pizza. The dough was ready made for them and yet still three of the five managed to present sad hunks of uncooked dough, with Ash forgetting pizza has tomato sauce before the toppings. Made in Chelsea’s Millie Mackintosh and Alex Fern of Trevor form Eastenders fame looked to have half an idea what they were doing, which made them seem like gastronomical geniuses in this show.

The next task saw them working in East London restaurants, with the requisite shot of a token Shoreditch twat, replete with top knot (a guy) and tight t-shirt primly waiting to be fed to show how East London it is. Millie struggled with her dosas and Alex the tandoori oven, but they were given a more difficult restaurant than the other three heels. The Indian food looked spectacular, I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant. I must eat that chicken tikka dish.

In the end, Tania went home and everyone’s favourite jigging pixie, Wayne Sleep, was given a reprieve. Made in Millie looks to be a contender, her tart was stunning.

Beauty Queen or Bust (Channel 4, 9pm) followed girls in a deprived part of the Midlands competing for the title of Miss Black Country (which leads to a chance at Miss England). They were a bit rough round the edges, but thoroughly likeable girls and I was really rooting for them, especially Diamond, a sparky and very pretty 18 year old. Natalie had been rejected from jobs such as being an elf and working in a chicken packing factory but was still chipper and funny. In the end, neither of them placed in the top three and Diamond fled the venue in her borrowed prom dress in floods of tears. The judges went for much more bland and predictable types of girls, in my opinion. I wouldn’t worry girls, the show just highlighted how tacky and dated beauty pageants are.

Mormons are weird. That’s what I took away from Lynn Alleway’s Meet the Mormons (Channel 4, 10pm) which followed young missionary, Josh (or Elder Field), on his two year mission to recruit more customers, sorry, believers. In that time he wasn’t allowed to see his family, had to be with his companion constantly (the only exception being when in the bathroom),  was constantly watched over by an older guy from the church, was given just £29 a week for food, was expected to work 365 days a year and had to contribute £6000 for the privilege. The film opened with young Mormons dancing furiously to the Spice Girls at a disco as a voiceover told us that they were not allowed to masturbate, have sex, drink, smoke or even consume tea or coffee. Yeah, no shit, no one in their right mind has danced that way to the Spice Girls, except maybe me when I was 11 years old.

“Do Mormons eat sandwiches?” says one lady of an example question that she is asked about her faith. That wouldn’t be my first question, it has to be said. It would be how do you baptise a dead person?  Followed by why does Jesus care what socks you wear? Followed by a few more. They’re not even allowed to swim for God’s sake! “I’m so happy to be here” Josh says at the missionary training centre, through his tears.

Anyone they recruit is expected to give 10% of their salary to be a Mormon. Money and religion are like oil and water in my mind, they have no place together. I also believe that puritanism doesn’t make you closer to God. No God I want to believe in would fill a world with delights only to forbid you to enjoy them. Who wants to believe in a perverse God?

Do you want to know something strange? This website automatically capitalises Mormon but not Indian. There’s something wrong there.

“Glastonsettee”

For those of us who missed the cut for highly sought after tickets to Worthy Farm, here are a few tips on how to re-create the Glasto experience at home – “Glastonsettee” or, if you prefer, “Sofabury”. I can’t help with re-creating the magical atmosphere that exists only in that corner of Somerset, but there are some measures we can take while watching the BBC’s extensive coverage so we don’t feel too left out of the fun…

1) Don’t wash all weekend. This one is for the purists only.

2) Queue for 20 minutes for your own toilet.

3) Buy a load of rough cider and charge yourself £4 a time for it. You could even get hardcore with yourself and confiscate a load of cans off yourself as you approach your living room to watch a performance on the main stage. (That is unfair to Glasto, as that happened to me at Latitude last year, but it still rankles.)

4) Don some sort of silly costume, get your mates round and get the face paints out.

5) Procure some unidentified drugs and cut in half with baking powder then share amongst above mates.

6) Get your tallest mate to sit right in front of the TV screen, perhaps waving a flag to partially obscure your view at all times.

7) Miss half the set of your favourite band as you are stuck in a far off corner of your home.

8) Get some of those torches that you bring to the Stone Circle and take to your garden/balcony/local park to soak up the atmosphere.

9) For the authentic festival experience: venture to your local pub and see if you can rustle up a few bona fide hippies and a bunch of hyped-up geezers, bring them to your festival, pump them full of aforementioned drugs and see how they get on.

10) Force yourself to barely sleep all weekend, keep a constant level of drunkenness at all times and eat tiny meals from polystyrene plates so that by the end of the weekend you will feel you are on the edge of a truly mystical experience and may, just may, have discovered the meaning of life. And the meaning of life is to party.

If you’re going, enjoy! (Said through gritted teeth.) I’ve had some of the best/craziest/most memorable times of my life at that place. If you’re not going (sob), there’s always next year.

Student stuck in giant vagina rescued

Student stuck in giant vagina rescued

It was always going to happen: a giant vagina statue, passing students… The only surprise was that the statue had been there some 13 years before someone became wedged after being dared to get in. The guy was eventually eased out by a midwifery team of 22 fire fighters. Thankfully his sympathetic friends took photos so we can all enjoy this man’s predicament.

Auction House

Channel 4, loving as it does shows about people buying stuff and eccentrics, has a rich vein of both in its new documentary following the running of an auction house in Chelsea (Tuesday, 9pm). The cast of super rich cats buying and selling expensive tat made me muse that perhaps the rich are  a slightly different sub-species to the rest of us. They look similar but the unnaturally taut, shiny faces and unappealingly bulbous lips show the rest of us plebs that they have enough money to pour into making their faces look weird and are therefore better than us. They also speak in a way that is so posh it starts to sound like an accent from another country. Which, I suppose, it is, as the country they inhabit isn’t the same one I inhabit. My Britain is one of austerity cuts and blood stains on the streets, theirs is one of whale scrotum stools.

This second episode focused on housewife Sam (whose surgery had rendered her age and mood indeterminate) who appeared to have somewhat of an auction addiction. Her home was filled with mismatching odds and ends bought in haste. She wished to sell a painting of an 18th century nobleman that she had only just bought but no longer liked. The only problem was, while selling the paining (at a loss) she became whipped into another auction frenzy by competing with a phone bidder and bought a giant beige rug for £5,500. This rug was delivered to her home for appraisal by her and friend Trilby where it wilted on the floor like a huge wrinkled dust sheet and looked not a single penny of its price. “It’s too flat for this room” Trilby opined, prompting the question when is a rug not flat? Surely that would make it hard to walk on, but Sam seemed to know what she meant so I presume she was talking from a metaphorical or design jargon point of view. So back to the auction house Sam and the rug went with another friend in tow (Flat Cap maybe), for it to be sold for £2,500. This meant that owning it for a month had cost her a couple of grand. And this is where I started to warm to the show, for the undeniable appeal of schadenfraude (sic). Sam complained that she always bought for more than the asking price and sold for less, which no doubt had the auction house rubbing their hands with glee. A mischievous part of me would not be surprised if the phone bidders were auction house employees hiding round a corner with a mobile, but that’s the cynicism of a poor person talking. The rich just laugh their folly off fruitily and continue the filling of their enormous houses.

Sam and Fedora – sorry, Trilby described a buzz from going to auctions, like a sort of gambling. I suppose it gives them a semblance of peril in their cossetted bored housewife lives – that they might lose out on a coveted object to another bored, cossetted housewife. Sam – living on the edge – even bought a £500 sofa (“A bargain!”) that infested her house with mice. I suppose that’s a kind of peril.

Along with highly-fillered lady-mug, there were other enjoyable characters such as cheeky old rogue Mick, a regular who demanded more money for an item he’d sold, producing paperwork he’d written over himself as evidence of the debt. When the auction house manager asked if he’d tampered with it, Mick replied “No, I don’t have a blue pen” and looked shiftily to camera. A defence that was both kind of genius and kind of insane. Once the writing was identified by another member of staff as being Mick’s (he is a regular after all) the wily old fox conceded defeat.

Eccentric characters, the fact that owner Roger used the phrase “higgledy pickledy” and rich people being systematically fleeced of large sums of their money, albeit in a very charming way, means I will tune in again.

Celebrity Masterchef

…has returned for the gazillionth series. If Masterchef: The Professionals makes me envious of the judge’s job, then the “celebrity” incarnation makes me very grateful I don’t have to taste anything. Even from my sofa, I was scared of their culinary atrocities. This week was a bunch of people whose names I didn’t recognise and faces I vaguely did when their notoriety was explained to me by the voiceover, and they were absolutely rubbish. Seriously, a blender with the lid left off and four plates around it would have created better dishes than they managed. There was ex-Corrie actor Ken Morley, who fried some lettuce in the first challenge- creating a burger. Simple enough you may think, but no. I liked him though and was sad when he was eliminated and actress Emma Barton was allowed to stay. For a woman whose famous character was a type of food stuff (Honey in Enders) she was consummately terrible. She’d never made a burger, never made a pudding and in yesterday’s alarming skill and knowledge test (a prawn cocktail) Greg managed to say a diplomatic “your lettuce is edible.” John tried to hint at how she should have cooked the prawns (instead of pushing them around a pan in vinegar and serving them raw): “How else do you cook things in a pan? Think potatoes.” “Mash!”

After the prawn debacle, they were let loose on mass catering and managed between them to cook half of what was needed. Alison Hammond (a woman whose stature suggested she was familiar with good food) and Amanda Burton caused “fireworks over a spotted dick”. A running theme with Russell Brand’s girlfriends, I’d imagine.

After that, they had to cook two dishes for former celebrity contestants, including human foghorn Janet Street-Porter, whose disbelieving face said it all. They all attempted simple dishes, but still cocked it up. Emma produced a sad bit of fried trout with a salad and for dessert, crushed digestives on a plate with cream and a bit of fried banana. “I think they’ll like the colours” she said after. While whipping the cream, she span the bowl around until Greg suggested holing it. “You worry me” he spluttered. She worried me, and I wasn’t in a room with her.

Alison created a horrific prawn cocktail, ackee and saltfish medley that no one wanted to try, with some unidentifiable water at the bottom. And so on. Basically none of them deserved to go through, and yet somehow Amanda and JB managed it. Poor John and Greg certainly earned their wages this week.

Incidentally, what has happened to Amanda Burton’s face? She was once a striking looking woman but I think there’s been a filler misdemeanour somewhere along the way as she smiles in a very, very strange way.

World Cup fun

I don’t pretend to be a football expert. I don’t understand the offside rule and I never will. I’m not convinced that anyone really does, I think it’s deliberately impenetrable and obtuse to put ladies off muscling in too much. However, I do always enjoy the drama and spectacle of the World Cup, and so far Brazil 2014 is providing excellent amounts of both. There was the shock 5-1 defeat of current champions Spain at the ruthless feet of the Netherlands and especially my fave Robin Van Persie (or Hottman Van Perty) last Friday. What a gam! The Dutch took Spain apart and while I felt sorry for them, especially Casillas, it seemed to spell a welcome end to their style of “tika taka” football ie endlessly passing, which was effective for them, but tedious for the fans. I’m not knowledgeable  enough to gauge if Spain were really bad, or the Dutch were really good, but I feel the Dutch may be ones to watch. The scoreline could have been even higher. I especially enjoyed Van Persie scoring by doing an impression of a salmon leaping upstream. It was both athletic and a little bit silly.

Usually, these opening group games are cagey and stagnant with neither team wanting to put themselves out there too much, but not this time: it’s been one of the highest scoring tournaments ever so far and long may it continue so it can keep the attention of half-arsed fans such as myself who have more passion than knowledge.

There was more drama yesterday as Portuguese firecracker Pepe (13 red cards in his career) indulged in a quarter head butt against German Muller during a 4-0 ribbing of his team. Pepe had caught Muller’s face during a tackle and objected to his subsequent histrionics. Adrian Chiles was up in arms at the German’s diving and there was a lively debate with his co-pundits. I don’t condone violence but a little bit of handbags at dawn adds spice.

That brings me to ITV’s coverage versus the BBC’s. Like with everything (in my mind), the BBC has wiped the floor with ITV so far: clearer graphics, clearer and more charming punditry. Plus the Beeb has Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand, giving a masterclass in how dapper, hot men should dress in hot weather, while ITV has Chiles, who as ok as he is, looks like a thumb.

England’s campaign got off to a rather disappointing start with a 2-1 defeat to Italy. Poor old England, I think the problem is we all get too nervous and lose the plot. Our unfamiliarity with success was shown when we scored our goal and the ensuing celebrations broke  a physio’s ankle. It’s not just our game we need to improve but our celebrations too. I still hold the hope though, like any good fan should.

Special mentions must go to the excitable commentators who always excel themselves in hyperbole. Example: in Spain v Netherlands “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” I also enjoyed yesterday, as a rather pudgy physio escorted a German player off the pitch, the commentator’s “he’s been on the same diet as me.” Well played, sir, well played.

Tonight is the hosts against Mexico, which I’m sure will be good value for money. This Cup’s psychic animal – Big Head the turtle- has turned shell on his home team and picked Mexico as his tip. He lacks the charisma of 2010’s Paul the Psychic Octopus, but it’s early days and he’s not had any media training yet. We’ll see tonight if he’s right. Happy Cupping folks.

Post script

I’ve just heard on the radio that Uruguay have blamed their shock defeat to Costa Rica on a bulk shipment of their favourite treat – Dulche de Leche spread – being confiscated by Brazilian officials as it did not have the right paperwork. It’s stuff like this that I love the World Cup for. I didn’t realise sweet spreads needed paperwork. Is this a Brazilian conspiracy to take down Uruguay? Watch this space.