Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm saved, I'm saved

2010, well. It's not been the best of years. I could attempt a round-up of the past few months, but it wouldn't be much fun to read (or to write, come to that). Read the entries back and have a little wallow all of your own.

In short...

Albums (enjoyed): MGMT, Deerhunter, Janelle Monae, Doves.
Albums (disappointed by): LCD Soundsystem (save Drunk Girls). Hot Chip.
Song of the Year: Tightrope by Janelle Monae.
Runners-up: Flash Delirium by MGMT (channelling Cups and Cakes-era Spinal Tap). Revival by Deerhunter.
Books (enjoyed): mainly the work of David Sedaris (the old cliche: I laughed, I cried). Wolf Hall.
TV (enjoyed): anything with Charlie Brooker. Mad Men. Corrie (especially tram crash week). Peep Show. We Need Answers. This is England 86. Getting On. And many more.
Inexplicable teenage crush: Tim Key.

I have relatively high hopes for next year. It surely can't be as bad as this one? Festive greetings to you, dear readers. Kiss kiss.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Chilled to the bone and five miles to home

I've written before about my love of the magazine Smash Hits.

Smash Hits saved my life.

There you go, I've said it.

As a kid, growing up a mile outside a village that didn't have much going for it, it was hard to see how I was ever going to make it out. A love of pop music provided me with a ready-made escape route. That so, I eagerly awaited every issue of Smash Hits and would pore over every detail, even about bands I had no real interest in. The writing was funny and sharp, with the hacks unafraid of take the piss out of their pop star subjects where it was needed. However, it was more than just a music magazine to me.

I suppose there was a turning point of sorts, and that was the Jesus and Mary Chain. One of their chaotic live performances was covered in Smash Hits, and I became utterly enthralled about 18 months before I had even heard anything by them. That gloriously blasphemous name, the backs to the audience thing, the was just perfect. Years later I would read about how this was misreported in the press and carefully stage-managed by Glasgow's self-styled Malcolm McClaren, but to be honest, it makes very little difference to me what really happened. JAMC made me imagine a world that was different to the one I was in. From that point on, it was all about getting to that place.

Recently, the blog Like Punk Never Happened was brought to my attention (neatly enough, by the commenter on my 2006 blog post). Brian scans in an issue every fortnight and releases it 30 years to the day after its original publication. I urge you to check this out. It's a brilliantly worthwhile thing, especially for those of us who lost our back catalogues of ver Hits in parental purges, house moves, teenage revisions of history or general fits of pique.

Just like before, I'll be reading each issue carefully, and waiting patiently for the next one to appear.

In other news - Janelle Monae was wonderful in concert last night. I must say, I wish more pop stars would claim to be time-travelling androids from the future, and spare us from more talent show dreck.


Friday, December 03, 2010

It was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor

I had an odd experience yesterday. While looking for some family history information, I found a diary that I updated infrequently between 1990 and 1992.

It was a mortifying read. Just like most teenagers, the 18-year old me was a frightfully self-centred, hormonal bore. What was bizarre was that the Big Event of 1990, the death of my father, was never mentioned. Not wanting to be doomy on the page? Or a brazen attempt to shut it out entirely? The latter, I think. No wonder it took me so long to come to terms with it. On the plus side, there was a mention of a couple of friends who remain friends to this day (they are still around, and one even reads this from time to time).

I look back at the time I've spent writing this blog and I hope that I don't return to it in 20 years and want to curl into a ball at what I've said on here. Although it's inevitable that I will.

Let's face it, writing a diary is an essentially solipsistic pursuit. You can't help but reflect on yourself, because you can't get into anyone else's head to report what they are thinking. We get older, we move on, we change, and we don't like to be reminded that we were gauche, silly or had poor judgment. Not that I can say that I have ever completely stopped being gauche and silly, and as for my judgment...I have my moments.

In the past I've spoken on this blog about editing myself carefully here, which was something I didn't manage back then. And if that ain't the biggest signifier of growing up, I don't know what is.