Sad Song Torture

The news today that Joni Mitchell is unable to speak due to an aneurysm started me thinking about sad songs.

Joni certainly sang a lot of sad songs – wistful ballads, filled with regret or longing, perfect songs for sad times and depression.

This is what made me wonder.

You see, a great many years ago I was in a band, and one night we were poised to be signed by a big label. We’d enjoyed playing, we enjoyed the gigs around Glasgow, we had great fun writing and rehearsing. We were having a blast – local success, people saying hello. Lovely stuff – but this was a watershed moment – we’d have to write good songs to a deadline, we’d have to tour far away from home. We would have to play the same set over and over – perhaps for the rest of our lives. Scary stuff. The band imploded. This was not the life we wanted.

I saw the Rolling Stones 20 years apart – and it occurred to me that they have had to play those songs over and over – over the whole 20 years and more, over the whole world.

What other art form makes you do this? Comedians tour and then bin their material for new stuff. Painters and photographers are not obliged to repeat themselves, authors write different books. It’s only musicians who have this nightmare to face.

Sad music

It’s bad enough that the mechanisms remain the same, more or less, writing a book – even though it is a different book, is still the product of the writing process. That’s unavoidable. Bricklayers build all sorts of properties, but it’s still brick-laying.

But to build the same thing over and over? That is inhumane. I pity the Rolling Stones – I couldn’t even listed to those songs every day, let alone play them on stage in some foreign arena.

It would drive me mad. What could be worse?

Well, that’s an interesting question – would it be worse if your hits were sad? Like Joni’s?

I can imagine that Uptown Funk may lose its sheen after a few years of constant performance, but at least it is upbeat. Maybe that is the same with the Stones – their stuff is not exactly mournful and depressing in the main. Could it be that Lemmy, The Stones, Status Quo and others have managed to push through because the were not bleeding heart balladeers?

I know that Joni Mitchell has suffered depression, is her music the cause or the effect of her depression? Would playing these songs over so many decades take it’s toll?

Whatever happened to R.E.M.? Automatic for the People has to be one of the most depressing albums ever recorded. Are they all in asylums? I would be.


Why Men Don’t Read Instruction Manuals

We just got a brand new washing machine today – it’s brilliant, and we got a good deal too.

So. We should be happy.

And we are, but…

…but we made the mistake of reading the manual.

selfassembleI got a flash-back to when I was a slip of a lad – I’d just bought a second hand car. It was wonderful. I loved it, and bombed about quite the thing.  What a feeling! Ignorance is truly bliss!

But then I spotted a manual in the glove box, and as I leafed though, I read of fabulous features – and when I checked out my car – no sign. Then I noticed the manual was for the range of car models, and described all the things the top of the range models had. And I didn’t.

I was gutted. Look at all the things I could have had!

And so to this very day. The washing machine manual described features (such as pet hair removal), that our new machine didn’t have. I pouted and flounced and huffed and puffed. Even though we do not have hairy pets (just fish).

This. This is why (famously) men do not read instructions.

Just sayin’.

The Dark Side of Supermarkets

Supermarkets can sometimes be quite dramatic.

For example, I was once next to be served at a check-out till in a small local supermarket when a strange thing happened. The cashier was scanning items, and passing them onto a sloping conveyor to be bagged by the customer, when a scanned watermelon rolled down the slope. It gathered speed and struck the lip at the end of the check-out, where it was launched into the air.

We all watched in slow motion, mouths open, as the customer flailed about trying to catch the flying fruit, but instead of a save, she actually managed to strike the large watermelon in such a way that it accelerated toward the open supermarket door like a cannon ball.

Everyone gasped as it slammed into a chihuahua, killing the small dog outright. The customer was beside herself, screaming and wailing as the distressed and distraught dog owned arrived.

It was quite a scene, I can tell you. A crowd gathered, management were called, statements were made, and eye-witness reports were rehearsed and dramatised. At one point, the fruit was recovered and bagged (perhaps as “exhibit A”). I was surprised that the dog was also scooped up and put in a Safeway carrier bag, but then, I supposed there was no “proper” etiquette for this sort of thing, and there had to be a clean-up so that we could all get on.

Small dog threatened


Some years ago, in the run up to St Valentine’s Day, I procrastinated to the point where it was the eve of the Big day, and I had no card and no gift. So I waited till my loved one was fast asleep in bed, to slip out to the 24 hour hypermarket.

I arrived at about 3.15am, and dashed along to the greeting cards aisle – upon arrival, I was surprised to find seven other men browsing the cards!

I am far from unique in my errors.


I did once see a woman fall to the floor in a supermarket, and suffer an epileptic fit. It was quite odd, and no-one knew what to do – it’s awkward for a man in such situations, so I ran to a shelf-packer for help.

“Hello” I said to gain her attention.

“Yes? How can I help?” she responded.

“There’s a woman having a fit in the drinks aisle” I explained. Just at that point, an elderly lady who was passing by, said:

“I’m not surprised with the prices they’re charging here; it’s a disgrace, it really is!”

Nomination Damnation

I received a nomination this morning for something called The Creative Blogger Award – so thank you to the learning, earning and fitness mama 

So here are the rules for the award:

  1. Thank and post the link of the blog that nominated you
  2. Share five facts about yourself to your readers
  3. Nominate 10 other blogs and post their links
  4. Notify all nominees via their social media/blog
  5. Pass on the rules to them

Five Facts:

  1. I am a man of working age who should know better
  2. I am married even though I am not gay.
  3. I live happily with my spouse despite the stats and trends
  4. We slavishly run about after two children like a housekeeper and a butler
  5. Life is barmy – that’s almost out family motto

Ten Blogs to Nominate:
I know this is a chain-letter type of thing, there is no obligation to or by anyone, but publicity is not really a bad thing; if you go to the trouble of writing a blog, it may as well get read by people… a bit. Links can’t hurt.

  1. – Chloe, a smart, thoughtful blog and interesting perspective.
  2. – Is a gritty, scary blog on divorce and baggage.
  3. – This is a retired person’s blog, loads of gorgeous pictures.
  4. – a super blog with scribbles and sketches and thoughts. Lovely!
  5. – this is great fun and thought provoking,like a favourite TV show
  6. – “Everyone has question, few have answers”, a wonderful looking and interesting site well worth your time
  7. – This is a good read blog and it takes me back to the struggles, woes and fun of academia
  8. – This is totally wonderful, a real treat, check it out!
  9. – a lovely travelog.
  10. – great fun – and cartoons too – what’s not to love?

Phew. This is a lot of work!

But – following the “rules” – at the very least has made me recommend blog reading material…. I could go waaaay past ten; I enjoy reading blogs! Spread the love then!

When Children Begin to Tell Risqué Jokes To Their Parents

My son (he’s 8) tells a joke:

“Mum, how can you tell your teacher’s age?”

“I don’t know; how do you tell your teacher’s age?”

“Pull her knickers off”


“Cos in my knickers it says ‘ aged six to eight'”


I laughed like a drain when I heard the boy tell this joke, and saw his mothers face – and was reminded of the time I told my mother a borderline joke back in the day.

“Mum, do you want to hear a joke?” I began.

“Ok” said my mum distractedly stirring the saucepan on the stove.

“A boy asked him mum for a bike at Christmas.” I smiled.

‘Mum, can I have a bike for Christmas?’ I said in a silly voice.

‘ Not on yer life’ she replied” I said in another silly voice. I continued, noticing I had my mum’s attention.

“So time went by, and each time the boy asked for a bike, the mother would say no.

“One day the boy asked his mother if she would play a game with him.

“She agreed.

‘Let’s play Mums and Dads’ suggested the boy.

‘What do I have to do’ asked the boy’s mum

‘Oh you just have to go upstairs and get into your lingerie and lie on the bed; I’ll be up in a minute, just let me know when your ready…”

(At this point in the telling, my mother’s eyes were on stalks. She was clearly surprised, and possibly quite alarmed. I carried on in haste.)

“Soon the boy heard his mother shout downstairs that she was ready.

“The mother was lying on the bed in her stockings, knickers and bra when the boy walked in wearing his dad’s jacket, and sucking on his dad’s pipe.

The boy then looked at her, sat down on the end of the bed, and said ‘You know, my love, I think it’s high time we bought our son that bike he’s always going on about!’

At this point my mother actually burst out laughing. I think she was amazed, astounded, and very, very, surprised.

Talk about flying close to the sun!

In search of a Beautiful Body

From a bumped car to a nipple operation, modern life can certainly take unexpected plot twists.

Last year, my wife parked facing uphill, and took our children into our local public library. Subsequently, a car parked in front, and when its handbrake came off, rolled down and cracked the newly repaired bumper of my wife’s car. She knew that she couldn’t drive off without the other car rolling downhill into busy traffic and a shop front, so she called the police.

A couple of teenage midget police took an hour to arrive, then they spent another hour trying to find the owner or driver of the unbraked car. In the end Dumb and Dumber took the advice I gave my wife over the phone – to chock the wheels with bricks or whatever is to hand to allow her car to get away without it rolling downhill.

The insurance was claimed the next day, everything was in order, the owner of the car admitted guilt, yet it took 10 months to get the go-ahead for repair. Unbelievably slow.

The body-shop man took the car in, fitted a new bumper, and just before the car was uplifted, a high wind caught the driver’s door and smashed it to bits against his premises – many times by the look of it. He promised to order a new door.

A couple of weeks went by and we passed his place – at the weekend there – and discovered that he was in hospital for an operation.  Preparing my sympathetic face, I asked if it was “serious”.

We were told that his nipples had become evermore painful, and there was a build up of squidgy fluid behind them.

He had developed small, painful breasts.And when he went to seek help, the medics immediately recognised that he had used steroids for body-building in his youth. This is a common thing, apparently.

He was taken in for surgery, and now we have to wait, and drive about a car wreck for a few weeks.

body_nipple_horroYou couldn’t make this stuff up.


Only we could get a car out of a body shop in worse condition than it went in – and that the body-worker had been a boy body-builder on steroids.

Then again, perhaps like our car, he has come out of his bodyshop worse than he went in.

Growing Up with An Alpha Dog

Dogs can be really clever. And also annoying.

When I was growing up, we had a black-and-white Collie called Bob who was “a law unto himself” as my mother would say.

Bob wasn’t allowed on my parents’ bed as it had a fancy covering. We would walk outside and look in the bedroom window and see Bob enjoying a relaxing sprawl on this bed – but by the time we’d got in the house, there was Bob pretending to be asleep in the hall.

Most of the time he did what he liked, but at least he respected us all enough to pretend to obey and be a “good boy”.

As he got older, however, this respect faded.

He would detect one of us was going out. He wanted to come along too; he fancied a trip, a day out. So he would bolt through the front door as it was opened for departure, and dash to the car. He knew which car the person owned. He would then lie under one of the wheels to prevent the car being driven off.  As soon as the car door was opened, he’d dive in, and off everyone would go. With Bob.


Of course, people tried to outwit Bob – there was the leaving by the back door ploy, the decoy ploy (where one bribes a sister to pretend to be going out, allowing one to sneak out the back door and make a getaway), and the sudden change of car ploy… Bob soon twigged to all our tricks.

As the youngest, I didn’t drive a car. One time I got myself spruced up to go out to a disco, left the house by my bedroom window (this was quite normal for me), and was heading to the busstop when I felt a “bobness”. I was aware of a sound and movement behind me – but when I looked back – nothing.

I got to the stop. Nothing seemed amiss. The bus came and I got on. To my horror, on the bus, next to me was Bob. The bus had pulled out and we were on our way. Damn. Bob was coming on my date.

What to do about this? I thought I might be able to get off the bus without him – or perhaps I could pretend to be getting off – allowing him to dash off ahead, then perhaps begging the driver to close the door and drive off – but I knew he’d beat me. He was a darned clever old sheepdog.

We got off at the next stop, and walked back home, Bob seemed happy, and grateful for the adventure. I made sure he was locked in the kitchen, and went to get the next bus.

It was all going according to plan. The Bus came, I got on, I checked – and I was Bobless. Freedom!

Three miles later I got off the bus and walked toward the disco, which was in a church hall. I met a couple of pals heading the same way, and we relaxed, fooled around, joking and laughing as we joined the crowd and queue to get in.

The Bouncer looked right at me and said, “You can’t come in with a dog.”

I was bewildered – then I saw Bob, sitting looking up at me.

“That’s not my dog, mister!” I blurted out.

My pals and I got in, the Bouncer somehow managed to stop the dog getting in.

“Wasn’t that Bob – your dog?” a pal asked me.

“Well, yes, but dog’s aren’t allowed in – what was I supposed to do? Go home?”

“Why did you bring him then?”

“I didn’t! He must have got loose and followed the bus here!” I wailed.

My plan was to ignore Bob, and pretend that he wasn’t sitting outside waiting to follow me home. He can bloomin’ well sit there all night until I am good and ready to leave – that’s what I thought.

And so I queued for cola and crisps, chatted to my date, danced a bit, fooled around with my pals… then, suddenly, in the middle of the dancefloor, was a barking dog.

How embarrassing. All hell broke loose, the dog ducked and dived, people tried to catch the dog, I made a run for it…

In the end, Bob and I were thrown out of the hall, and we went home together on the bus. Bob was delighted – pleased as punch he was, tail wagging, tongue licking, happy as could be at his first disco experience. I was crushed to think about school on Monday.

Having a dog like Bob was character building. I learned that it was possible to both love and hate someone at the same time. That dog was richter-scale annoying, a Nobel sized pest, an Olympic nuisance.

And decades after he passed away, I still miss him.