Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘personal’

There was a form of TV show that, from an early age, accompanied my Saturday afternoon escapades chasing criminals through the living room, out into the garden and through into the field. Whether a shoot out in the bank (the chicken run) or defending a village under siege from evil gangsters (the camp we made in the hedge down by the ditch), an afternoon of heroics was not complete without suitable imaginary action music accompanying our antics.

Without further ado, here are my top ten cop/action sound tracks.

10. Juliet Bravo

 

For some, their first police drama was Z-Cars. for others, Dixon of Dock Green. For me it was Juliet Bravo.

9. CHiPs

 

It had motorbikes, cops and California. Oh yeah!

8. T.J. Hooker

 

Even though it had Captain Kirk in it, I wanted to be Adrian Zmed. And my first TV crush (Penelope Pitstop aside): Heather Locklear!

7. Airwolf

 

How the hell we ever pretended to be Archangel, Stringfellow Hawke and Santini without a helicopter I have no idea, but we did…

6. The Professionals

Guns and Mullets Part I. It was rough and tough and British.

5. Knight Rider

This is here in tribute to my cool bro Seth, who had a real thing for KITT. And David Hasselhof.

4. Dempsey and Makepeace

Guns and Mullets Part II. I was absolutely and utterly in love with Glynis Barber. There’s nothing else to add.

3. Cagney and Lacey

Like Juliet Bravo, this was one of those rare things – a cop show to watch with your Mum – and one of the most memorable theme tunes of all.

2. Miami Vice

There had been nothing like this on TV when it appeared, with its glamour, guns, drugs and 80s squealing rock guitar.

1. A-Team

If there is one of these theme tunes that has stood the test of time, it is this one. 27 years after the last episode aired, you still here kids humming this one. And I was Hannibal. Seth, of course, was Face.

Read Full Post »

From the moment we first start listening to music, we seem to take those we like particularly and build them into the story of who we are. It occurred to me in a moment of holiday reflection that actually, the tunes that were first added to the mental mix tape that is the eternal soundtrack of my life (latterly full of everything from Allegri to Lady Gaga to Heaven’s Basement) came from the cartoons that captivated me in my 70s and 80s childhood.

Whilst I loved the classics – Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny etc – there was a certain form of episodic cartoon that I looked forward to. Coming home from school, that sacred 90 minutes from 4pm to 5.30pm could throw up any one of a number of animated adventures that could enthral a young lad who spent too much time living in his head.

So here, without further ado, my run down of my top ten favourites.

10. The Perils of Penelope Pitstop 

I am sure I wasn’t the only one with a bit of a crush on Ms. Pitstop. And there was something about this tune that just stuck in the brain.

9. Scooby Doo

Daphne ran Penelope a close second. And let’s face it – this was a theme tune we all sang in the playground. Cos we were so cool.

8. Mysterious Cities of Gold

I could never get on with Mysterious Cities of Gold but somehow the tune snuck in and got stuck somewhere around the hippocampus. You have to wait a while to get past the blurb, but it’s worth it. Honest.

7. The Space Sentinels

Before we had a new-fangled Video Cassette Recorder, I remember sitting next to the telly and holding a microphone to the speaker for the duration of an episode. The mic was attached to one of those old flat tape recorders. I swore to anyone who would listen that it was as good as a video recorder (I was a deluded child) and made a point of regularly listening to that one episode over and over again. Oh yes. I was Hercules.

6. Transformers

I have always been a sci-fi geek. These were robots that became cars and planes and lorries. I mean, WTH? That was just too cool. We’d not seen the like – and that song. “Transformers! Robots in disguise…” This one’s for you, little bro.

5.  She-Ra

This one isn’t really worthy of number 5, but I remember it being a very annoying ear worm back in the day. She-Ra, Princess of Power is the sort of character you could imagine Leonard or Sheldon falling for. It also had an annoying winged pony and various cutesy animals in it (as well as lots of androcentric stereotyping of female characters in the fantasy genre). But hey… ‘She-Ra, She-Ra!’

4. Dangermouse

Just how cool was Dangermouse? It’s one of those shows that if I watched now, I am certain would be laden with cool humour and grown-up in-jokes. We’ve all worked with Baron Greenback – and we all know Penfold. Just sayin’.

3. He-Man

He-Man was the ultimate male warrior for all of us playground crusaders. Every playtime for years you would hear kids running around screaming ‘By the power of Grey Skull…’ (prob spelled ‘Gray Skull’ natch). With his cowering lion, one thrust of his sword skyward and he was transformed from the Prince of Eternia into He-Man. ‘I’ve have the powwerrr!’ None of us spotted that he was wearing pink.

2. Dogtanian and the Three Muskerhounds

As ear worms go, this one has the longevity of a cockroach. I’ve no idea when I last saw this on TV but sometimes it still gets into my head and won’t go away. Oh yes. Also, Laura fancied Dogtanian. I am not sure what that says about me. Or her.

1. Battle of the Planets

And finally, my favourite childhood theme of all time. Battle of the Planets! G-Force! Five  acting as one! Mark, Princess, Jason, Tiny and Keyop (the one that burbled)! Yep, I am sure the programme was nowhere near as good as the theme tune, which was a supremely cheesy 70s-style mash-up of action tunes, but when you hear those horns at the beginning… And as for Princess… *sigh*

Read Full Post »

The Funeral

The Funeral

We drove through the grey mist, wordless and blank-eyed,
The windscreen cracked and split by endless rain,
Our meter the rumble of tyres on tarmac
And an occasional sad sigh of rubber on glass.

Our hours were silent hours, lost in half-memories,
Each of us reflecting on a common private guilt:
Our promises to see more of one another
So casually made and then forgotten.

Once there, in throngs of strangers, we saw at once
We could have known her better than we now pretend, 
And offered solemn nods and awkward sympathies
As we sought those few we recognised and loved.

We embraced them and wept, smiling through our sadness, 
The warm handshakes of old friendships  undiluted 
By the years between, though fewer we counted, quietly,
Some borne away on the rivers of our seasons.

Then, after we had gathered and sung our life-filled hymns,
And drank to past times of happier communion,
We renewed our promises with easy earnestness
And, lastly, bid each other fond farewell and left.

Read Full Post »

A Commute Diverted

We shoved and shuffled

in this brighter morning,

blue skies and sun

belying warmth,

cloudy breath and

huddled shiver an

overture to our opera

of epithets and sighs:

a tragi-comic Tannhäuser,

on West Ham’s platform stage.

Read Full Post »

Old Pictures Prompted By A Morning’s Frost

A sepia dawn reveals

a two-tone world,

surrendering colour to

frost’s brush,

reminding us of

long ago, of men in

hats with scythes

and Threshing Bees.


A cruel cold heralds

a quiet kill,

testifying intent with

frost’s knife,

reminding us of

long ago, of men in

helms with guns

and Yellow Legs.

Read Full Post »

I often wonder in more generous moments if the colossal indifference we, as a society, show the homeless – particularly those forced to scavenge an existence from the streets – is because of the fear we experience in recognising that there is the finest line between the life we live and the life we could live if just one or two things changed.

We often fail to see the human being, with hopes, dreams and aspirations that now ekes out an existence on our streets. Somehow he or she is less than human. And sometimes we see the most violent reaction to a person asking for coin to survive. There is an automatic assumption that they are a scrounger or criminal, that they want the money for drink or drugs (and if they do, that in and of itself is a reason not to give them money). We are more comfortable with attaching a label.

I have struggled to reconcile street living with the values of a civilised society.

I still can’t make it fit.

The Beggar Girl

She appals and disgusts,

this beggar girl,

croaking and coughing

down on the pavement,

thin fingers

groping from her

nicotine threads,

a skin-sack of bones,

heaped in her corner,

trolling our evenings for

pity and silver.


She angers and provokes,

this beggar girl,

shaking and stinking

down on the pavement,

sunken eyes

searching from her

spit-stained hood,

like piss holes in snow,

dead in her skull,

jabbing our consciences with

hunger and shivers.


She defies and disturbs,

this beggar girl,

whining and weeping

down on the pavement,

once alive –

dancing with her

sister and friends,

swimming in an ocean,

eating floss in the wind,

imagining her future of

chances and lovers.


She confronts and questions,

this beggar girl,

pleading and praying

down on the pavement,

now dying –

tiring from our

fearful silence,

forgiving embarrassment,

appealing for release,

grasping her moments of

softness and giving.

Read Full Post »

Poem: The Promise

I debated putting this up. I wasn’t going to dip into the back catalogue. However, I wrote this a couple of years ago and was reminded of it by a weather forecast promising snow. It was also written at the turning of the year and so I can still plead New Year.

Snow creates a momentary illusion of a new world, a blank canvas on which to write the day and as a child I always thought that it lay for weeks. In truth, it only lay for days and, as with many things, my recollections benefit from a gloriously over-active imagination.

Still, even now, my heart skips a beat when I wake to blanket of snow and everything looks pristine. Childish, perhaps, but as C. S. Lewis wrote: “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

The Promise

In a curious loneliness of friends,
despite the quiet regard of strangers,
we beg our days – so fast and few – not fade,
but lie, like snow, the virgin fall that sings
audacious promise and begs us step into
a world renewed, where scars are hid and
tired paths are lost to love’s adventure.

In the coldest reckoning of our hours,
as frosts are whispered through our night,
I crave the comfort of your creased smile,
the shudder of your aching limbs,
your weary arms that give up the promise
of your quickening, breaking, bleeding heart:
the safer silence of another year.

Read Full Post »

Poem: The House Alone

The House Alone

I know a strange aloneness tonight –
Though noise ruled the day,
The house stands quiet now,
An absence of sounds conquering the
Loud and shrill and banging.

There is a whine of blood and air
Where chatter had displaced thinking –
And I think I miss the sound of you,
Restless and laughing, love and
Madness in the stories we shared.

I know a strange aloneness tonight –
Though light ruled the day,
The house stands dark now,
Shadows and glimmers banishing the
Harsh and artificial.

There is a dance of soft colours
Where brightness had blinded seeing –
And I think I miss the sight of you,
Restless and laughing, love and
Mischief in the comfort of friends.

Read Full Post »

BBC History magazine had an article in its Christmas edition on the dangerous games played by children in Tudor England. With fond recollections of my own childhood games I was curious to see what mischief our ancestors got up.

True enough, some of the stories were very sad, recounting how children had met their unfortunate demise whilst playing, but the games themselves were nothing special or dangerous. Rather, youngsters then, as now, met tragedy in a pond or lake or with an item falling on top of them.

Somehow, on reflection, my own childhood games seem rather more hazardous. Weekends were an adventure playground.

There was “Stick Wars”, where four of us would split into two teams of two and roam the local woods, Coombe Wood, with its “Creepy Copse” or the “Sandy Hills” tucked away in a bushy enclave on Westley Heights and the product of centuries of toil by local badgers. (It was years before it was I realised it was “Creepy Copse” and not “Creepy Cops”, the tall pines giving me small-child nightmare images of evil tree-police ready to snatch us out of the evening gloom). There we would give ourselves a “time out” to gather suitably-sized and suitably-shaped sticks and twigs that could be flung at each other. These turned into mammoth reconnaissance efforts, donning second-hand army fatigues and wellies, buying walkie-talkies, and making clear to families and walkers up from the town and trying to enjoy a little countryside that these were our woods.

What little horrors we were.

My regular partners in games were my brother and two eldest cousins, Matt and Sarah, and we spent virtually every weekend together between the ages of six and sixteen. As the years went by, we added my sister Ellie and odd friends (odd as in random, not odd, though some were certainly quirky – eh, Bob?). It was either Matt and me or Sarah and me, never siblings together, and we could spend a goodly while deciding what mischief to get up to. Back then, 2pm to 5pm was a significant portion of a life-time and seemed to last forever.

We were lucky in that both families had extensive gardens with an adjacent field, very differently shaped, but both sporting a tremendous variety of sheds, trees, nooks, crannies, and hidey-holes.

Sticks were reserved for public spaces. For our own gardens, and depending on the season, we opted for acorns and apples, knowing that one of those catching you on the leg would sting like hell or leave a splendid, thumping bruise. We’d skulk about gathering windfalls and stashing caches of ammunition under bushes and in old coal scuttles. And then we would unleash the pain, always bemused when a glancing blow to the head reduced one of us to tears and drew down the wrath of one or other set of parents.

On one memorable occasion we were joined by Horst, a rather severe and strong German who was the brother of a friend’s friend, who rather missed the point of these games with their stealth and dexterously-flung missiles. Instead, he appeared on the brow of a hill carrying a tree trunk and yelling who-knows-what in German at the top of his voice as he charged us down. Thank goodness for Matthew and his Herculean strength, who managed to flatten him in spectacular style.

Elastic bands – the thicker variety that are rarely seen today – were strung together in threes, fours and even fives to make lethal catapults for firing gravel from the drive or grit from a felt roof. We perfected weapons with ranges of a solid two or three hundred feet, if the trajectory was suitably angled and the bands powerful enough. A careful watch was kept for parents who might not appreciate the stones peppering the lawn and dulling the blades of the Mountfield mower.

Field cricket was a potentially lethal affair. Many lazy days were spent playing cricket in “the field” under sweltering Summer suns, on a full length wicket with a makeshift backing net of fruit bush netting or chicken wire. We played with leather and willow, no fear – and no pads and gloves (except when Brian, my friend and neighbour, invested in them, tired of his bruises and in receipt of more pocket money than the rest of us). But the pitch was uneven and I liked to bowl. Having reached six foot early and being an adept strike bowler, I spent hours learning where the ball bounced best for maximum impact and avoiding the ditch on the run-up. When dusk became twilight and the light impossible for finding balls in bushes or under blackthorn we would retire scratched, exhausted and happy, ready to resume the next day.

Then, finally, there was “That Game”, so infamous we still recall it today with a wistful, evil glint in the eye, which is still spoken of in hushed terms, and which we wonder if even at our age we could perhaps play one last time. Were there any rules? Probably. I recall a violent combination of British Bulldog, the tag variants of off-ground touch and run-outs, and wrestling. It was best played in the dark, outside, torches both a boon and curse. How no-one ended up cracking open a skull on the stone wood bunker which served as a base at Matt and Sarah’s place I have no idea.

So. Sod the Tudors. Langdon Hills in twentieth century Essex is where the dangerous games were at.

We’re just lucky we survived.

Read Full Post »

An Old Committee Room Clock

Its burnished face, worn by breath and dust,

gazing on the flare and flicker of lives

casually levelled by the years.


Its tight-wound heart, clogged by grit and rust,

grinding through the flap and chatter of words

caustically traded on the days.


Its iron-hard hands, watched with hope and trust,

goading fools and wise and fat and thin so

carefully counting out the hours.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: