Sunday, 30 November 2008

Cadwallon, Scourge of the Saxon Scum

A full-on Welsh operation it was yesterday.

Started the day with a listen to Barafundle, the delicious Gorkys album from 1997, which (as has been the pattern for the weekend) bumped me into tears more than once. Some times the father is the son/Meirion Wyllt choked me up especially much.

It was very misty up on the Mancunian Flats and as we moved along the M56 towards y Hen Wlad fy Nhadau the banks grew thicker. In need of piss, we stopped at a Little Chef on the way in the midst of the swirl, reminiscing about lollipops past and family car journeys, pausing only to admire the Daily Express/Star/OK Magazine stand by the door. A smorgasbord of balanced and perceptive journalism to go with the rest of the waffles. We got jogged off track a little, heading towards the Wirral and Hoylake and The Coral and LT's first boarding school. The road to Wales has been changed and there is no sign to Croeso you to the place any longer. I'm sure it will catch up but I miss the mark.

We had decided it was time to investigate the mysteries of those towns that lay just beyond the A55, towns I had faithfully driven past on my way to Ventodotia. Clwyd is a kind of a shadowy area in my universe, held in contempt for years for not being Welsh enough, for breeding Flintshire Scousers like Michael Owen and Ian Rush, for being hilly rather than mountainous. I even found the word Clwyd embarrassing during the 80s, perched beside the proud eagles of Gwynedd. Perhaps it was all a little uncomfortably close to England for me. Things get greyer as I get greyer, popkids; things that once were close are now further apart and vice versa; and my curiosity is roused.

Buckley was up first, an "historic brick making town", that even now I can't really fix to a physical space. It floats in a blank around the Expressway, and I don't think this was all down to the fog. It was pleasantly chilly. Wales was that much closer to winter than Manchester. The mist had been left in slightly lower ground. Apparently they used to carry bricks by donkey down to the river Dee and out to the Empire at large. There was an anonymity on the surface, but flashes of something different every now and then. I have never seen so many adverts for "Fake Bake" in such a short few steps as I did that afternoon. There was an Ethel Austin (as there was in every one of the towns we visited) and a plethora of pharmacies. Old people and cheerfully trrapped kids shuffled about. I bought a souvenir bottle of water. There was a gorgeous frost in patches that had been untouched by the wintry sun. But there wasn't much to keep us there, the project had to continue.

Next was Mold, Yr Wyddgrug. Further upland, so it involved climbing a bit of a hill, by car of course, and some gorgeous views of hills and cloud and Wales. After the scruffiness of Buckley, Mold was a "market town" with all the bric-a-brac you'd want to shake an antique stick at, and loads of people milling around the moribund Woolworths. There were a couple of neat bookshops, but no off-licence. It had the air of some self-importance, something I hadn't really expected. I'd imagined these towns would be aware of their liminal position in my psyche, be ever so slightly cowed by their historical insignificance; but there was a county of Flintshire to run and here was where it was expected to happen. We bought some bric-a-brac and went to Tescunts, picking up some Polish beers and sloe gin and a Welsh brandy called Black Mountain that I'd never heard of before. A couple of slender secrets were being lifted from the Clwydian slopes. I was trying to read the phrenologies of the high streets.

We'd planned to fit Denbigh in our scheme, but we'd left about three hours later than we'd planned, so the ring road tightened around us. Just time for Rhuthun; Lou's pick. A very nice place, the Welshest so far perhaps, a link on drovers' routes across the country in centuries past. Lou had visited there with her school, and we'd driven through there on our way to Johnny and Junko's wedding. I hadn't really seen the Vale of Clwyd before, and I was mightily impressed. Wales was rising up from the earth around us, Ruthin was dangling its streets down the hillsides. A hill-top town, in retrospect a little like Shaftesbury in Dorset. It was deserted. 3pm on a pre-Christmas Saturday, fresh pay jingling in pockets, plenty of well-nourished-looking shops, but next to no customers. It was when we went to the market that the mystery was solved - Wales were leading Australia 15-13. I bought LT an early Xmas present, a globe with raised edges to represent the mountain ranges of the world. We ate fish and chips (our usual Welsh treat), and slinked back under untropical pink skies to England.

That night I read about Cadwallon, ap Cadfan, who had raged out from Gwynedd and slaughtered the population of York, according to Bede. I'd never heard about him before. He made me think of a different Britain that was and might have been.

Your pal, Coc x

The Power of the Darrrrk Side

I can't watch Return of the Jedi anymore without weeping.

It's part of my encroaching early senility, and arguably my modelling myself on celebrity tearbaby, John Peel. I assumed the last couple of years that it was directly connected with the death of my father, that Darth Vader's redemption neatly fitted some inchoate idea of my Dad twinkling up there in the afterlife, watching over me while bonfires burn and furry little Ewoks gad about.

When I first saw Hayden Christensen's face crop up at the end, I was fucking furious. All the Jars Jars, all the clumsy dialogue, all the supermiposed creatures licking pieces of sand or bugs or whatever were as nothing compared to that crime, that re-writing of my own personal mythology.

It was on again today, a dark November evening with Xmas lights winking against the dying of the light; and it was tonight that the real power of the movie became apparent, underscored by John Williams' relentless music. I had underestimated the dark side of the force. Pain, suffering, redemption. A lot of adult feelings rummaging around in the undergrowth. Being the good guy really hurts. Scary stuff.

A few years ago a group of us mapped out which characters we would be in the Star Wars galaxy. I got Chewbacca. Moany, hairy and lank; I think that was the idea. Johnny was Luke. Ringo was Lando Calrissian. Benwise was Obi-Wan. Polish Dan had the odious distinction of being Jar Jar Binks. Gasher Denton was Admiral Ackbar. The tricky posts to fill remain Han Solo and Leia - we never really agreed on them. There is simply no-one cool enough to play a space carpenter that smuggles a bit on the side for shits and giggles. And everybody wants to be the pissing princess, eh? The principrix of the pissers.

Should I be so eager to feed my little nephew's love of the Lucas?

Your pal, Coc x

Thursday, 27 November 2008

No more Woolworths, eh?

Where m'I going to go to get cheap DVD-Rs now? £20 DVD players? Batman figures that I bought in the mid-1990s? I know that there are places where I'll be able to buy these things, but it all seems more complicated now somehow...

A big piece of my childhood landscape will disappear from the middle of Bangor, which is a very strange thing to dwell on indeed. Especially in the build up to Xmas. I read somewhere I think that Woolies do 60% of their annual business in the run-up to Weihnachten.

Hmmm. Missed a comma or two there; don't know if anyone noticed. I don't think any journal will be reporting on my thoughts on whether Woolies do 60% of their business whenever. It's more likely that I meant to write that "I read somewhere, I think, that..."

Either way, shit for Woolies. And shit for people who like to go out and buy cheap wrapping paper. Though I suppose those cunts at ASDA do it now. Evil little whelps. Couldn't give a shit about MFI or whatever though. Just fewer ads for Boxing Day sofas in the middle of the Xmas movies.

On another note, my excitement about the Breeders' ATP in May ( is building sternly with the news that Shellac and Gang of Four will be taking part. Shellac are great fun, like clever older brothers. Gang of Four might fit the usual profile of auld bands and be a bit disappointing - except Dinosaur Jr, who wailed.

Handsome Nick, Slinky and Dr LT are all on board. My fingers are crossed that tickets are bought before my money runs out.

Your pal, Coc x

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

His brain in Scarlett Johanssen's body

Charlie Brooker. Charlie. Brooker.

It's symbolic of my change in fortunes over these last twelve months that in my previous position I was able to regale my amused staff with passages from "Dawn of the Dumb" during shief briefings, even composing amusing pages with amusing allusions to the mentally-sedentary daywalkers amusingly stumbling among us, whereas now...

Now I have to put up with a couple of kids with A-Levels in "Media Studies" tell me that Dead Set will be rubbish (and it was unfortunately not as genius as I'd hoped it would've ought've been). I actually felt as though I had lost face by insisting on Charlie Brooker's genius. Have I betrayed him? Did I hear a cock crow thrice? Or a crow cock perhaps? I don't know birds.

But he's back on BBC Four with more stuff. Why not take a look at this knockabout laffarama?

Nathan Barley was the business though, the business turned inside out so you read the future in the outie entrails dangling from its twisted ribs. It was a dark future. So dark and shiny I could see my drooling face in it. I rise about eleven o'clock. By then the idiots have already got up and had their first coffee of the day. I am an after-idiot.

Eat this, ya mencaps -

Yeah, I know you know. But my brain asphixiates itself with the giddying excitement of all this, dig?

Your pal, Coc x

Moody Mancs On Billboards

Hi-ho, whatnots!

Things are hotting up nicely for the congestion charge vote next month. While I am certain that my ballot stuff will not arrive due to the scandulously shit performance of local drug-addled, alcoholic layabout retarded Postmen Twats*, I am still not quite decided about where I shall stick my name for the future.

Voting for a charge that won't even come into force until 2013, when I might have been so seduced by the Olympic glory of London that I decide to burrow myself into the forgiving soil of the Lea Valley and set up a mushroom and leather goods business-cum-domicile - that's a piece of immoral fun in itself.

I might not even have a car by then, although it seems more than likely that come December 2012, I will celebrating eleven glorious years with my then 21-year-old Hondamaschine.

If the Evening News has lined up its most fervently knee-jerking columnists against it, then it can't be all bad. And it does at least represent thinking of ways to deal with the future, and to stop people driving round in their selfish little cock-units until the roundabouts are lined with the dead and rusting. But the campaign in favour has been very poor. A parade of mardy-faced stereotypes staring joylessly out at the world, wafting their little badges of mean-eyed poverty and lust for timekeeping in our ungrateful faces. No more accurate advertisement for Manchester exists: "This is how we persuade people of the power of our argument - stony-faced misery."

As Dr LT was saying today, as I drove her to work this morning (as I do almost every morning), why shouldn't people pay taxes for driving around in their little toxic booths, with all the resources and space and community feeling they eat up? She has no sympathy for "whingeing drivers". I'm picking her up from work later too, joining the queues of belching death, inching through the evening.

I live in the outer ring, so I'll probably only have to pay £2 a day if I'm on the move; but God knows where my work will be in the future. That's 2013. That's after the Universe disintergrates. But the trams and trains are already full, and the buses are miserable.

It all seems pretty pointless, this referendum. I can't the people of Manchester voting Yes for it. When was the last time the greater public voted Yes for anything?

It's a choice then between the bizarrely complacent thinkheads at whatever Gov ministry comes up with this stuff -; or this overheated, phlegm-speckled mob - My head is in my chilblained fingers.

Your pal, Coc x

*Someone needs to explain to me how it is possible for even the most basically-educated fucknut not to deliver a package or letter to an address that is in exactly the same place as it has been for years and, like, years; a package that has the address on the front.

120 Minutes & The Night

The delights of MTVTwo, which I've neglected quite so far bit the last couple of years, are tickling my kumquats again at the moment.

Tilly & The Wall, OK. (Didn't they play instruments by kicking brick walls and sheets of steel?) Oh, dear - now some of that would-be angular stuff from Thomas Tantrum that sounds like it's after rolling bored out of some photobooth in a branch of TopShop or something. Sliding vocals, lumpen snare, tinkly pickled guitar sound... There's a sigh in my hearts and lungs the size and consistency of a broccolum.

Other than that a little Hammer aktion this evening. We've no gigs coming up in the foreseeable so we're doing a bit of writing. "Donkey Duty" it is called. Well, so far. It started out sounding quite like an Ian Dury/Stevie Wonder bleed-up, and some words about novels moving around under my skin and alphabetti on my breath. I quite like those. Goatboy has been throwing some words about pissing on bonfires as well. It all promises.

Before that my car-key declared some kind of resistance, by firstly - almostly impossibly - locking me out of my lovably dilapidated Honda Concerto - almost 18. (Key to the door, ironically enough). The AA came and sorted it out, as they were bidden. Then when I went back to the car when I got home, having left my phone on the passenger seat, the key broke in my tremulous fingers. Is this some Final Destination bullshit? I hope not, non-readers; really I do.

I'm hungry...

Your pal, Coc x

Friday, 21 November 2008

Brain Atrophied ...Last Hope ... If I Can Just ... Write!

Achtung, cyfeillion!

My ever-expanding, ever-diluting attempt to disease further unseen corners of the interweb continues. You, reader (and I use that very much in the singular sense), are the unfortunate witness.

Frustration at the technical difficulties with have driven me to user-friendlier shores, as has an apparent phobia at picking up a pen and spitting biro thoughts onto my once-faithful A4 narrow feint art shop pads.

Transition is the flavour of my month. One job is almost into its last fortnight after nearly nine years of scrabbling with raw fingertips and bloodied synapses at the living rockface of retail. No alternative career has leapt up to take its shadowy place. 'Dolig ar y dol, hogiau!

Music journalism was the preferred choice of choice, but all enthusiasm in the engine has dipped, and I haven't written a review for anything since a particularly stimulating Bad Uncle ( in Fallowfield at the beginning of the summer. Starts need to be kicked, tackle baited. You know the picture. This benighted burg is crawling with people with more detailed, more passionate and better-fleshed opinions than mine, and while I can put one word in front of another reasonably successfully, I think I lack the tang in my spine to take it to the wrassle-mat.

I've also thought about going into counselling. I went in through the front door a couple of years ago, and it did me a whole lot of good. The tradesmen's entrance appeals, but not in the smutty sense. All that painting brown doors white. It sounds far too much like hard work. Cuddles and yielding pink, that's what I'm about. And prevarification.

My dream job would be some kind of music broadcasting, throwing gargantuan versions of my aesthetic decisions against the airwaves like shadow puppets during a lecture on double entry book-keeping. I've dabbled a bit with a couple of piratical podcasts (, but as soon as they are finished, I cringe at choices and cannot listen to them. I need the Tarantino geek self-belief. But I can live without the distended forehead. I already have the largest skull of anyone I've ever met.

Contentment lurks somewhere, but he's an elusive cunt.

That is all.

For now.

Your pal, Coc x