Saturday, 20 January 2018

Mr Sick

My Christmas break from work was partially ruined last year by Mr Motivator.

For those of you who don’t know who Mr Motivator is, he is the personification of all those workaholic ambitious fools who work all of the hours God sends “at 150%” and look down on those who want a decent work/life balance and actually want to spend time with their families.

I do not like Mr Motivator.

So, how did this imaginary nemesis of mine ruin my Christmas?

He made me ill.

Regular readers will know that I am a hypochondriac and the mere mention of an illness makes me think that I have the symptoms. Ironically, I rarely actually get ill. In the last few years at work I can count on the fingers of one hand how many days I have had off ill.

When I get a cold, it is usually just a mild sniffle with a minor sore throat.

However, last year, on the day after Christmas Day I was struck down with a nasty bout of man flu. My head thumped like there was a mad robot inside my skull trying to smash his way out with a sledge hammer. My nose was so badly blocked with snot that it felt like it had swelled to three times its normal size. I was scared to sneeze because I honestly thought I could demolish the house. My throat felt as though it was being sandblasted and I was coughing so much that you could have been forgiven for thinking that I was a barking dog.

I was so weak that I could barely climb off the sofa. I spent three days on a Lemsip diet watching terrible television. My will to live had gone on holiday.

I was far worse than this guy.

Before you ask, I wasn’t asking Mrs PM to make soup or rub my head.

I had virtually no beer - that’s how ill I was.

As I lay there feeling sorry for myself on the sofa, I started feeling anger that I had been struck down while on holiday rather than during a work. I remembered seeing people suffering at work with the same ailment that had struck me down, some of whom were visibly ill before ultimately deciding to take the day off sick themselves. Others plied themselves with vast quantities of Lemsip so that they could get through their working day with as little pain as possible.

It is these people who gave me this horrendous illness – just in time for Christmas and my week and a half holiday.

I don’t blame all of them. Some of them felt that they needed to come in and power through the trauma in order to please Mr Motivator, a man who will be in work for most of the day regardless of any illnesses. Mr Motivator he needs to give 200% and can battle through any illness in order to complete the essential work that needs to be done.

When I returned to work after the Christmas break, three of my colleagues had also been struck down, spending most of the Christmas break in bed with the same flu-like bug having a party inside their bodies.

Like me, they were annoyed, one even suggesting that perhaps he should have taken the week off work to compensate for his lost holiday time.

On those rare occasions when I have been ill during work, I have decided to take the day off the moment the symptoms appear. After all, I do actually like the majority of my work colleagues and the last thing I want to do is strike them down with the same lurgy.

I truly don’t think that Mr Motivator understands that if you come in with a terrible cold for example, then ultimately anybody who comes into contact with you will also get it. Most of these people do not have the same warped philosophy in life as Mr Motivator and will take the time off to recover from it, both for their own benefit and the benefit of their colleagues. More importantly, that person will not spread the disease and the workload will suffer less as a result.

I am happy to say that although Mr Motivator does work at my company (he works at almost every company in fact), nobody thinks any less of you for staying at home when you are ill. It makes total sense to do so because if everybody on my team were to fall ill at the same time, then work and the company would suffer.

So please, Mr Motivator, if you feel ill then stay at home and relax so that you can get over it without harming your colleagues and your company’s productivity.

You know it makes sense.

As an afterthought, I am proud of myself for not asking Mr Google about the symptoms of my illness. Had I done that, I would probably have panicked about dying from a rare tropical disease and made my Christmas even worse.

Here’s to an illness free 2018.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Another Castle

Last year, in August, Mrs PM and I visited Warwick, another lovely little city in the centre of England.

Warwick is an amazing little city, actually, because it only has a population of just over 30,000 people yet has its own racecourse, a very highly thought of university and, probably most famously, a magnificent and very well preserved castle.

Both of us had ben to Warwick before and on that occasion we simply went for a racecourse meeting to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. Sadly we only went for the day and didn’t have time to really look around the city. This trip was our chance to finally explore that place.

Warwick is located in the Midlands and is only 40 miles away from my hometown of Walsall, about 19 miles south east of England’s second city Birmingham. The countryside around that area is beautiful and it is only a short hop to other places of interest like Royal Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare (we also visited there too but I’ll discuss that in another post).

We stayed in a small guest house about twenty minutes’ walk from the centre of the city. Thankfully the weather was kind to us and we were able to spend Saturday exploring the city centre. It’s not too big but it is very quaint and has a beautiful church.

After a nice lunch in a marketplace pub, we walked around a little more in the sunshine, peering into quirky little shops before returning back to the guest house.

In the evening we returned to the city centre and enjoyed another lovely meal in a gourmet pub that was really packed. Thankfully we had had the foresight to book a table. There is nothing worse than wandering around a strange city on a Saturday night looking for a restaurant; we’ve been bitten by that particular bug in both Bath and Cambridge.

The next day we returned to the city to have breakfast before chancing on a classic cars show in the marketplace, including a 1960s police car with a working siren that an exuberant child kept setting off, much to his parents’ (and everybody else’s) annoyance.

Finally, before leaving for the trip back to Manchester, we spent the rest of the day exploring Warwick Castle. I’ve been to many castles in England and Wales but I have to say that Warwick Castle is my favourite. It is certainly one of the most preserved in the country and still appears to be as grand as it was in its prime. There is a lot to do there, including exploring the grounds, entering the dungeon, a maze, a tower showing the history of the castle using some fairly impressive technology, a huge trebuchet (catapult), a jousting show, birds of prey and exploring the inside of the castle.

There were many visitors there on this warm Sunday afternoon from both the UK and the rest of the world. Although it is quite expensive, you can get tickets in advance with vouchers from in and around the city. We managed a good deal using a voucher that the owner of guest house had given to us the day before.

I would recommend paying a visit to the city, particularly if you are from overseas. To whet your appetite, here are a few photos of the castle.

A beautiful castle on a beautiful day

A knight in shining armour for Mrs PM

And if one isn't enough ...

My kind of library

A bath, madame?

Time for bed

Hills aren't a problem for a castle

A  bloody big catapult

A bloody big bird

Monday, 8 January 2018

The Malignant Narcissist

"Look how GREAT I am!"
It’s that time of the year when I take a close look at the world of celebrity. As a rule, I hate the Cult of Celebrity but I am deeply fascinated by it – mainly because I don’t understand it. However, roughly this time every year, I watch a TV programme that lists the most shocking celebrity moments from the previous year.

I do this for two reasons.

First of all, I love it when certain arseholes make complete fools of themselves in public and show their true colours to the world. I realise this is a bad thing, and I sometimes wish that I were more understanding but ultimately the truth is that most of these villains in the world of celebrity are so self-obsessed that they actually deserve the wrath of their fans for their terrible behaviour.

Second, there are certain celebrities who actually have no talent whatsoever yet are totally obsessed with appearing on every form of media available, from your television set to the tabloid press via social media. I don’t know who half of these people are and frankly I don’t care. However, I like to know who people are talking about when they mention these people – just so that I don’t look like an archaic old git when people ask me about them.

To me, a true celebrity is somebody who is very talented at what they do and humble enough to accept fame and its consequences while at the same time recognising the people who put them on the pedestal in the first place – their fans.

The rest are basically malignant narcissists, i.e. self-obsessed fools who care nothing for their fans and are only interested in one thing – themselves.

The other day, on my daily walk, a song popped up on my iPod that summed up malignant narcissism perfectly. It was Earth Song by Michael Jackson. The truth is that I actually like the song because it is a well written pop tune with a useful message.

However, if you have seen the video then you begin to see where Michael Jackson’s self-obsession is totally evident. He portrays himself as a lone figure walking sadly in a scorched world. It’s difficult to tell whether the emotion in his voice is because of the damage done to Earth or whether he is so sad because he no longer has any fans to love him. As the video progresses you see forests being destroyed, factories spewing out pollution, elephants being killed for ivory, towns and villages being destroyed in war and people crying and falling to their knees in despair.

“Good old Michael,” you say. “The message is strong – he cares for our planet.”

And then the video becomes something else.  As Michael gets upset and starts pouring his heart out, suddenly the world fights back. As he screams and sings in anger in a raging wind, all of the terrible things we have done are reversed; fallen trees suddenly rise up again, soldiers retreat as villages are restored, people shot in war come back to life, factories suck in the polluting smoke, stolen ivory from dead elephants grows back and the elephants are resurrected.

And Michael the Messiah whoops in joy as if he is somehow responsible for this reversal of fortune.

Here is the video if you haven’t seen it.

You may think I’m being harsh on Michael Jackson but my viewpoint was confirmed when he performed the song at the Brit awards in 1996, surrounding himself by adoring children, holding his hand like some kind of saviour as the stage was filled with worshippers, before shedding his black tatty clothes to reveal a sparkling white suit with his arms outstretched and being revered as if he were the reincarnation of Jesus himself.

The incident was famous because Jarvis Cocker the lead singer of Pulp who, alongside a few others, found Jackson’s act distasteful, and decided to invade the stage and show his feelings innocently enough, by bending over and flapping his backside as if he had just farted.

Jackson was hurt because somebody had mocked his brilliance and a lot of people in the UK loved Jarvis Cocker for what he did. Jackson’s reaction was one of pain and he poured his heart out about how humiliated, hurt and upset he was that somebody had dared to intervene in his wonderful performance.

Ultimately Michael Jackson was just one example of malignant narcissism and when you see the antics of some of the other celebrities you can see many more.

So what is a malignant narcissist? Basically it is somebody who is so self-obsessed that they consider themselves to be the centre of the known universe and if anybody disagrees then they will willingly lash out and attempt to destroy them with absolutely no remorse. Even jokes at the expense of a malignant narcissist are taboo.

Prime examples are Mariah Carey, Madonna, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber. There are many more.

 Kanye West for example, thinks nothing of taking attention from a winner at an award ceremony because he disagreed with the result.

Of course the biggest and best example of malignant narcissism in the world at the moment is Donald Trump, a man who is so self-obsessed that he actually lives in a fantasy land about how great he is. Reports suggest that he will dismiss anything that comes across his desk unless it mentions him by name or shows him in a great light. He has invented lies to make everyone believe that “the Donald” is the greatest human being that exists at the moment. 

He dismisses anything that criticises him as fake news, even when his lies are exposed. He attempts to ruin anybody who speaks out against him and constantly lies to make himself appear to be the greatest living human being.

You just have to read his tweets and listen to his spoken words.

Trump will support people until they speak out against him, when he will either sack them or say extremely nasty things to twist the truth of the matter.

Here are some examples:

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. I would qualify as not smart, but genius ... and a very stable genius at that!”

“Nobody’s ever been more successful than me.”

“No one reads the Bible more than me.”

“Nobody knows banking better than I do.”

There is so much evidence to prove his words wrong but he simply dismisses it as fake. Anybody who dares to show him in a bad light is savaged. He builds himself up and tears down those who oppose him:

“Meryl Streep [is] one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood." - The fact that Meryl Streep is probably the most successful actress of our generation seems to have escaped him. How many Oscar nominations, Oscars, Golden Globes etc. has she won Donald?

“[He’s a] totally overrated clown who speaks without knowing facts.” - Note - Trump wasn't talking about himself.

“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”

“Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”

“If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’”

I apologise again for mentioning Donald Trump but in this case, it illustrates the points I am making about malignant narcissism.

Thankfully, the majority of people recognise such people and speak out against them.  As long as there are celebrities, there will be malignant narcissists.

I am so glad that I haven’t met one personally yet.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Brain Massage

When listening to songs, I sometimes come across a phrase or sentence that inspires me to write a stupid blog post.

This is one of them.

I was listening to a song called Disruptr by Devin Townsend and he sings the line:

“I need a brain massage”

This got me thinking.

I visualised a brain massage to be something that Dr Hannibal Lecter might inflict on his patients, but then again, I also considered that it could potentially be some sort of self-help mechanism to combat mental issues with the concept of a brain massage being just a metaphor for giving your mind a tiny bit of tender loving care to get over a negative blip.

I like the idea.

Imagine my surprise when I popped the term “brain massage” to Mr Google and discovered that it is a real term. My search popped up several million results from both scientific sources and other sources implying that brain massage is an actual thing and not just a figment of Devin Townsend’s imagination.

I was quite astounded when I read an article from a science magazine suggesting that it might be possible to improve somebody’s memory by discharging magnetic pulses onto a person’s skull to actually modify the neural activity of the brain.

The word “discharge” doesn’t equate to “massage” to me; it sounds like it might involve pain of some kind – a pain in the brain if you like. Having said that my experience of massages also involves pain.  I’m too much of a coward to actually have a massage myself but I have seen others being almost physically beaten up in the name of relaxation.

How can such activity reduce stress? Surely a person who wants a massage must be absolutely shitting themselves while waiting for a qualified masseur or masseuse to attack them physically.

I know I would be.

As I surmised, one form of brain massage is to try to soothe a troubled mind. One company I read about offers a brain massage in the form of meditation music that claims to completely relieve you of stress within its thirty minute duration. The music contains no words and claims to use Delta and Gamma waves to purify your mind, revive your contentment and wash away stress – pretty similar to a physical massage I guess (but without the pain).

I tried listening to an example of this on YouTube, albeit sitting down in front of my computer screen typing this, rather than lying  down in a darkened room as recommended, and while it sounds very pleasant, it didn’t relax my active brain too much. However, I can see how it could, having tried things like self-hypnosis, which is also sometimes accompanied by similar soft and soothing music.

I am fairly open to such things these days, particularly after the events of last year, so I will probably have a go, purely in the name of research of course, and report back in a later post.

One thing that slightly annoys me about this though is the accompanying bumph that tries to explain what is happening to you when your brain is being massaged in this way. When talk of science is replaced by words like spiritualism, auras and phrases like “connecting you with the Divine” I tend to switch off and ignore such things as pure hocus pocus.

Believe it or not there is a science behind all of this and that’s exactly where my comfort zone is rather than spiritualistic mumbo jumbo. I don’t mean to sound sceptical but when people talk about finding your inner self, I tend to scoff. I’d much rather listen to an explanation involving brain waves than Buddhism. I can relate to such explanations.

I’m sure that the music and beats etc. do work scientifically and I’m happy with that.

One word I spotted whilst reading about this phenomenon was one that I intend to use in casual conversation in 2018. That word is “braingasm”. The more scientific explanation is that a braingasm is an “autonomous sensory median response” or ASMR.

I much prefer "braingasm" – don’t you?

Basically a braingasm is a pleasurable tingling sensation that can be triggered by something relatively simple like having somebody touch your hair or whispering in your ear. In fact, there are videos out there on YouTube where people simply whisper to trigger this response.

It kind of works, I have to say, so there is something in it.

If nothing else, this post has introduced me to the terms “braingasm” and “brain massage” so the whole thing has been worthwhile.

Having thought a bit more about it, I’m not sure what would happen if I were to talk to a complete stranger and say “Have you heard of a braingasm?"

Most women would probably slap me and everybody else would just think I’m a bit weird – and they would be right because deep down I am!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

A Musical 2017

I want to say goodbye to 2017 on a positive note and there is nothing more positive than music in my eyes.

So if you will allow me a moment of self-indulgence I would like to share with you the music that crossed my path this year. 2017 was a great year in terms of music that allowed me once again to consolidate my collection with a couple of new artists and a couple of established ones.

First of all, I acquired the latest album by heavy metal superstars Metallica, called Hardwired..To Self-Destruct. As you can imagine, subtlety is a word that struggles to establish itself in any Metallica song and this is something that endears me to them. They may be getting on a bit now but the music is still terrific. Here is Now That We’re Dead:

Riverside, a magnificent Polish progressive rock band, released an album that is really a tribute to their guitarist, who sadly died in 2016. The album, Eye of the Soundscape, features experimental material that was released over the past few years as bonus tracks on other albums and is like nothing they have done before; it is mellow and atmospheric, and totally instrumental. The good news is that the band will carry on, which is great for me because at the moment they are one of my favourite bands. Here is Machines:

Also, in 2017, I enhanced my collection of Devin Townsend albums adding four of them, all of which are completely different. Ghost is an ambient album featuring flutes and laid back songs that you can listen to with scented candles in a dimly lit room. Ki is more subdued but with hints of Devin’s metal mayhem. Epicloud is a fantastic album featuring a mixture of ambience, pop, rock and heavy metal but the craziest album is Deconstruction, which is 75 minutes of pure heavy metal mayhem that grabs you by the throat and screams at you. Here are two songs, one from Ghost and one from Deconstruction. Do you think it is the same artist? Believe me it is. First here is the title is a song called Texada from Ghost:

Now we have Juular from Deconstruction. The song is as crazy as the video.

And with the promise of four albums in 2018, I am looking forward to next year.

Veteran rockers, Deep Purple also released an album in 2017. The album may prove to be their last but it proves that they still have something. Here is Time for Bedlam:

Gary Numan is also still going strong. He was very prominent in the 1980’s when I was into electronic music and his new album, Savage: Songs From a Broken World, reminds me of that time, albeit with a much darker sound. Here is My Name is Ruin:

Supergroup Black Country Communion reformed for a new album, featuring Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham. The album, BCCIV, is an excellent collection of hard rock and blues rock songs. Here is The Last Song From My Resting Place – a truly beautiful piece of music:

Foo Fighters also returned this year with a new album Concrete and Gold.  And they didn’t let me down with some great songs, my favourite being Run with its highly amusing video:

You may not have heard of Neal Morse, but he is a progressive rock legend who was a founding member of a band called Spock’s Beard. Now he has a band called, unimaginatively, The Neal Morse Band that grabbed my attention because it features Mike Portnoy, the ex-drummer of Dream Theater. I decided to listen to an album they released a year or two ago, called Similitude of a Dream, which is a concept album based on The Pilgrim’s Progress. Neal Morse is a born again Christian and the album very much embraces this but that doesn’t detract me from enjoying what is a superb progressive rock masterpiece that I am proud to have in my collection. Here is Man in the Iron Cage:

I plan to investigate Neal Morse and Spock’s Beard next year.

Steven Wilson also released a new album this year and to me that is a major event. To the Bone marked a more pop oriented direction and he actually made a dent in the charts, forcing an appearance on BBC news as “the most famous British artist you have never heard of”. I hope this is the beginning of the recognition he deserves. The album itself is not as good as the previous masterpiece but still has amazing songs, my favourite of which is Detonation, a song about terrorism:

And finally – do you remember this pop song from the early 1980s?

The bass player in the band, Nick Beggs, has been playing with Steven Wilson for the past couple of years but has also branched out to form his own band called The Mute Gods. I picked up their second album called Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth. I was amazed at how good it is – and it is a far cry from his Kajagoogoo days. Here is the title track:

And if you are wondering, Tardigrades are microscopic animals that are, apparently, indestructible, able to survive radiation, extreme cold and heat and have even survived in low earth orbit, subjected to the extremes of space. It stands to reason they will be around after we have destroyed ourselves and the planet. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen for a while.

I am truly looking forward to a musical 2018.

Happy New Year to each and every reader

Friday, 29 December 2017

Goodbye 2017

I wasn’t going to bother with my traditional summary of the year this year because, frankly, 2017 has been a stinker of a year, much worse than the previous year, which was bad enough.

However, despite the pain, there have been some highlights and it would be unfair to confine these to the skip. So shall we explore the mound of crap that was 2017?

Let’s do it!

1.What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

I reached the age where I can get my hands on my pension pot, should I be stupid enough to do so. I’m not ready to do that just yet.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I started off with a quest to be more positive and to be fair, it worked until March. I also enhanced my French a little and revisited German, a language that is fascinating but very difficult to learn.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not this year,

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes – but I’m not ready to talk about that yet.

5. What countries did you visit?

This year we had a massive family holiday to Corfu and also visited Majorca for a well needed week break in September. A bunch of us also revisited Amsterdam to celebrate a friend’s 60th birthday.

A flight arriving at sunset in Can Pastilla Majorca
6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

No pain!

7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Thinking positively, the week’s holiday in June – before the year turned to shit.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Nothing leaps to mind.

9. What was your biggest failure?

To remain positive all year. Fate is like that sometimes.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No, thankfully.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

That has to be my new Samsung Galaxy 8 phone, by a country mile. My poor old decrepit S4 mini survived for as long as it could before the weight of my expectation pushed it beyond its limits. My new phone is absolutely amazing.

What a beauty!
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Nobody famous has done anything to deserve a PM award this year. However, I would like to single out Mrs PM who has been my rock during a time of hardship.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Donald J Trump – the biggest dickhead ever to be elected into the White House. I could spend a year ranting about this waste of humanity every day for the next five years.

Also, Harvey Weinstein and all similar horrific sexual predators deserve to be inaugurated into the hall of absolute shame.

Theresa May (and her government), Nigel Farage and Piers Morgan also deserve the title “Dick of the Year” too.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Same as usual – my house and holidays.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Nothing really. As far as excitement goes, this was a rather mundane year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?

I will sum up the music I discovered in a subsequent post but this song deserves a special mention:

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

I am sadder (but improving), definitely fatter (but determined to go on a diet in January) and possibly a little richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

After a great start to the year in terms of blogging, I have definitely neglected it in recent months. I was thinking about giving up the blog altogether but I think I have decided to carry on for a while.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Again, I’ve had another angry year where the antics of politicians have made me fume. I wish I had stepped back from the precipice and ignored them more.

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve?

I’m not sure yet, but suffice it say, that Mrs PM and I will be somewhere that serves alcohol and has a dance floor playing cheesy music.

21. Did you fall in love in 2017?

No need. Mrs PM is still here with me.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

I have to say that the best new program I saw was Daredevil. Sorry – it is yet another Super hero series.

I also enjoyed Peter Capaldi’s last season as Dr Who.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Well we all know who I disliked last year and I still dislike them now. Add Kim Jong Un to that list.

24. What was the best book you read?

I thoroughly enjoyed the Atlantis trilogy by AG Riddle.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

A lot of established bands have been brilliant this year but I particularly enjoyed a relatively new Progressive rock band called the Mute Gods. More details in a later post.

26. What did you want and get?

My new phone.

27. What did you want and not get?

Common sense to prevail and for the government to admit that Brexit is such a huge mistake.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

Two superhero movies (sorry):

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Mrs PM took me for a weekend away in Warwick. Photos of this wonderful little city and its amazing castle will follow in a future post. I was (and am) 55 years old.

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Bugger all.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

Fashion? You’re funny. I’m 55 – what do I care about fashion (other than to mock the absurdity of it).

32. What kept you sane?

That honour goes to Mrs PM.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Having watched Wonder Woman, I have to say Gal Gadot is worthy of admiration.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The inexorable slide towards economic disaster that is Brexit and the constant barrage of insanity that is happening in the USA under Donald Trump.

35. Who did you miss?

I’m not ready to talk about that yet.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I met a few good people this year, so there were a few shining lights in the hellscape that was 2017.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

I’m stronger than I thought I was.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to 
It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to, did it? 
It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to 
It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to, did it?

And finally

Let’s hope 2018 is a better year. I know I said that this time last year, but I’m trying to be positive. I’ll start off by saying that I am planning to revamp The Plastic Mancunian blog sometime next year. 2018 sees the 10th anniversary of the nonsense I have been writing and the next month or two will hopefully see something different.

Of course, procrastination may kick in – but I hope not.

See you soon for a summary of the great music that crossed my path in 2017.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Top Ten Pink Floyd Songs

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Top Ten post so, for a laugh, and just in time for Christmas, I thought I would share my 10 favourite Pink Floyd songs. After the year I have had I feel the need to do something I enjoy and, though Pink Floyd don’t have anything directly to do with Father Christmas it makes me smile anyway. So here goes:

10. Don’t Leave Me Now (from The Wall)

I’ll start with a very depressing song about the pain of a relationship break up. If you haven’t heard it before, make sure that you’re in a happy mood before hitting the play button. Despite the obvious melancholy, this really is an enjoyable song, particularly when the guitar kicks in at around the 3 minute mark. And you can really feel the mental anguish of the singer as he pours out his pain. It’s depressing but it pushes a weird button in my head whenever I hear it. And yes, I have plenty of weird buttons.

9. Us and Them (from the Dark Side of the Moon)

Talking of weird buttons, this particular song pushes another. I’m not a huge fan of saxophone solos but sometimes they can add a wonderful moment to a song and such is the case with Us and Them. The song just wouldn’t be the same without it.

8. The Great Gig in the Sky (from The Dark Side of the Moon)

There are many amazing things about The Great Gig In The Sky. The opening piano is so atmospheric that I can imagine drifting along on the wind in the sky approaching a sunset. Even better is the amazing vocalist who uses her voice as a musical instrument. It’s one of those rare songs that is so full of emotion that there have been occasions when a tear pops out of my eye.

7. Sorrow (from A Momentary Lapse of Reason)

This is the only song in my top ten not to feature Roger Waters. I think Pink Floyd lost something after he left the band but, having said that, Sorrow is still a great song with a definite epic vibe to it. I particularly like Dave Gilmour’s excellent guitar playing. I hope you agree.

6. Run Like Hell (from The Wall)

Run Like Hell has a very distinctive guitar sound that makes it obvious from the first notes that this is Pink Floyd. It’s not dissimilar in texture to their most famous hit from The Wall, Another Brick in the Wall (Part Two). However, the upbeat nature of the song gives it the edge, for me, over it’s more famous counterpart.

5. Time (from The Dark Side of the Moon)

I can really relate to this song because ultimately it is about wasting time and not realising that time is running out for all of us and it contains some of my favourite lyrics in a Pink Floyd song, lyrics that epitomise my struggle with procrastination:

And then you find, ten years have got behind you. 
No one told you when you run; you missed the starting gun.

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way. 
The time is gone, the song is over; thought I’d something more to say

4. One of These Days (from Meddle)

What makes this song great is the bass line that dominates the song almost from the very beginning. I remember when I first heard this song and I remarked that it was a Pink Floyd song you could actually dance to. I proved this one time at a student house party way back in the 80s when the host popped on a mix tape and, fuelled with a fair amount of red wine, I managed to find a space amongst the crowd where I could strut my funky stuff. At least a couple of people agreed with me and joined me in making a complete arse of myself. Happy days.

3. Money (from The Dark Side of the Moon)

Money is a song about greed and is yet another song featuring a decent saxophone solo that enhances its appeal, but that isn’t the best part. I love the key change and the amazing Dave Gilmour guitar solo in the middle of the song.

2. Comfortably Numb (from The Wall)

This song almost made it to number one. In my opinion it is the pivotal track on the Wall. Again it features an amazing guitar solo by Dave Gilmour. A word of warning – Scissor Sisters covered this song and utterly destroyed it. Mrs PM loves their version of the song even though I reiterate time and again that it is an abomination spawned in Hell itself. Don’t ever listen to it. It’s absolutely dreadful.

1. Sheep (from Animals)

It’s quite amazing that any band could write a ten minute song about sheep but that’s exactly what Pink Floyd did. Worse, it’s not really about chewing grass in a field – it’s much more disturbing than that – and I love that. Even better, the song is just amazing with one of my all time favourite guitar pieces at the very end of the song.

And Finally

That’s all folks.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and I hope Father Christmas brings you everything you want.