widg‧et /ˈwɪdʒɪt/ [wij-it] -noun: Pointless ramblings from the New Forest. Obviously complete & utter Rubbish. Why must I contibute to all this endless talk about me? My self-indulgent knees, spilling themselves all over the internet. Obviously i am Jon and his hair, I AM HIM!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gas Men, Chavs & Thieves

With my trusty Euphonium in tow, the pearlescent snood of the past, containing its fair share of blue boob tubes, fights, collages & car crashes, now forgotten, I ventured through the County Gates that historically divided Hampshire from Dorset. Now just a lonely roundabout between Bournemouth & Poole, past Westbourne on the left and into the cold bosom of nippley Branksome, far away from its very own Chine.

After slowly scalding my hands whilst protecting an apparently precious carpet from a defective plastic cup, I set off for a stroll during a break in the brassy proceedings to the distant sound of multiple sirens. A short walk around the block and I was confronted by a puffy faced Gas Man in a fetching, fluorescent jacket lumbering towards me, jazz hands in the air. The sirens were closer now, in fact right behind my left ear, as two large police cars pulled up beside me and its occupants frantically piled out on to the street wielding a compact & bijou battering-ram.

I felt as though I was in the middle of an overly dramatic & badly-acted episode of 'The Bill' and thusly decided to practice my wife-of-a-criminal patter, wide eye-twitch & innocent head sway. "I can't believe 'ee's got the nerve, comin' round 'ere. You're 'avin' a laugh ain'tcha? etc." None of these things had time to leave my lips, though, as the beuniformed ones sped into a nearby house, leaving me to ponder on the situation (an autoerotic asphyxiation attempt, ending in a spectacular & self-aggrandising explosion decimating the whole of the Jurassic Coast?) as I firmly unrubbered my neck and walked on.

Currently listening: Devil Between My Toes by Guided by Voices

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Would Anybody Like A Teacake?

A strange booze and paranoia filled evening, last night. It all started with a bang, in a fit of sober clumsiness my arm decided to spill half a pint of delicious 49er all over the table. A little splashed onto the arrogant knees of an old, mute fisherman. He decided it would be good larks to show off to his cod-stained acquaintances by wiping his fat thighs with the lining of Miss Dee's coat, while she was helpfully acquiring a cloth to minimise the damage. A fair amount of berating followed, during which the largest member of the angling collective, who was not the object of our anger, proceeded to lumber slowly and drunkenly towards our table.

Previously I had taken on the graceful mantle of Dame Shilpa Shetty, by donning the ceremonial Yasmin Arafat scarf as a kind of bath turban. And a good thing too, I needed every ounce of composure and restraint as I was assailed by the large, nasty, Jade-like figure, alcohol and bile oozing from every pore. I was cordially invited outside, presumably for a dance and to gaze at the hazy moonlight. I regrettably had to refuse, as I thought to myself "What would Shilpa do?" and judged that she would be above such things. He began to paw and shove the innocent bystanding elements of our band of reprobates, and I probably let slip the phrase, "What is wrong with you?" a few too many times.

It wasn't until his attempt to crawl over the table with his lard-filled knees, as the pointless, blonde, relief barmaid stood simpering in the background, that one of his gormless mates decided to intervene and dragged him kicking and screaming out of the pub.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur of tongues and noise, until we returned home to a splishy splashy enhanced by the Bollywood zaniness of Shilpa film, 'Baazigar'. We admired the fatness of her cheeks and the denimness of her clothes, and finished it all off with a double crescendo of Big Brother and mucho tea.

Shilpa to win!

Currently Listening: The Good, The Bad & The Queen

Friday, January 26, 2007

Everybody Had Magic Towels

Joy. The first 'customer' of the day turned out to be a rather hunched & bedraggled old woman. As she shuffled towards me, extending a boney & somewhat grubby finger, she licked her lips and began to mumble the opening salvo of her spellbinding sales patter.

"Ooh, young man. Would ye buy a lucky charm?"

Since her affected Irish accent was startlingly rubbish I began to wonder if she was an 'ironic' gypsy, a very mature student inhabiting the body of this grotesque cliché in the name of a performance 'art' project. I was awoken from my mind-musings by more mumbling and the mesmerising & disturbing trail of saliva that ran from her top lip down to her wispy-haired chin. Then, all at once, she shook her head and the extraordinary spit string proceeded to wrap itself around her entire body as she came over all Wonder Woman and began to spin round & round, faster & faster, until she disappeared in a puff of smell.

Or maybe I was still daydreaming.

One of the many trials of this job is having to put up with the parade of nutters that stream through the shop door trying to sell me mountains of their unwanted, but brightly coloured refuse. I may have been naïve, but I always thought that I should be the one flogging shite to unsuspecting idiots. Just because I work in a shop and I am a captive audience, it doesn't mean I have lost all sense of taste & sanity.

"No thank you. I am very sorry, but I shall have to decline your very generous offer, Miss Spanish exchange student, of owning your very latest gouache & vomit on cardboard work, for the measly sum of a day's wages. It would indeed be a steal, but unless I can dispose of you immediately after purchase with impunity and thus increase the value of my investment, or at least remove one more annoyance from my life, I will have to say, "No! A thousand times, no! Now, be off with you and never darken my door again!"

Currently listening: Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kroy So Igum Ree

After a week of quarrelling with the sock faeries, the prospect of a fortuitous offer of a trip to South Wales from a friendly victim of an unfortuitous set of circumstances reared its shiny head. A thigh numbing three hour journey later and we were in windy Cardiff, with only a pint of Brains and a bobble hat to comfort our cracked knees.

Your hapless adventurers journeyed from one dog food named, endangered record shop to another overpriced market stall in search of new sounds and pretty sleeves. There was just time for a short cheese-based pit stop before the slow dawning realisation that this great capital city seems to completely shut down at around 6pm, at least on a Monday. So there was nothing for it but to set off for the bay for a spot of shivery sightseeing.

Darkness and an unwillingness to delve into the unforgivably touristy A to Z meant a long, meandering, foot-shredding route to the bus stop, via the gorsaf Caerdydd Canolog where Pow Bang Bang was spotted dragging his belongings behind him. A grumpy driver and a bout of slight panicked indecision led to an early exit from the bus and a short walk to Roald Dahl Plass, untouched by fibre glass effigies of giant peaches or life size twits. The buildings of the Millennium Centre and Sennedd were most generous & willing to pose for photos, but much less generous & willing to give up hot, milky treats, but then it was gone six o'clock on a Monday after all.

A bendy-bus returned us to our main destination, Neuadd Dewi Sant, in the middle of the building site that is The Hayes, for John Martyn's Solid Air tour. My slightly more talented namesake took the stage as support act (but only after a manic dash to the misleadingly signed bogs) and impressed with virtuoso guitar-as-bongos slapping. Then the main attraction was literally wheeled on, and it's safe to say, judging by the photos I was familiar with on his record sleeves, he has not aged well. An interminable few tunes followed, when I felt like I was trapped in an exceedingly large lift with very good acoustics and a few hundred fellow captives. I resisted the urge to shoot the saxophonist and the keyboardy knob twiddler, as the hideous musak drained my eyes of the will to stay open. It wasn't until they buggered off and left the main bloke to get on with his speedy fingered acoustic fret work that my spirits perked up a bit. "This is more like it", said my pins & needles wracked arse to the rest of my body. A few entertaining, but unintelligible murmurings and a lot of intelligible swearing left his lips between songs. The elevator music stylings waxed and waned, but were mostly kept in check, until the last couple of numbers that would have shamed Whitney Houston in the 80s.

Anyway, it was all worth seeing, and the Welsh bitter made the bad bits bearable. All too soon we were back on our way, making the free trip over the Severn Bridge, out of civilisation, via Ram Alley, and back into the numbing womb of the New Forest.

Currently listening: I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass by Yo La Tengo

Sunday, January 21, 2007

He Smote Them Hip & Thigh

Hey ho.
I'm obviously feeling blasphemous at the moment as my last two audio/visual treats have been decidedly ungodly. The DVD, 90s Comedian by Stewart Lee and the book, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

The Stewart Lee show was filmed in a little theatre in Cardiff. It's a very funny show, with lots of things to make you laugh and wince all the way through, but it's basically a long, slow build-up to the last story, a wonderfully convoluted, hilariously silly tale starring a certain Mr. Christ. You could almost accuse it of existing just to get back at the hideous, right-wing Christians that campaigned against his 'Jerry Springer The Opera' if he hadn't used his glorious moral at the end of the parable to explain and entertain.

Richard Dawkins's book is a scientific thesis for the probable non-existence of God, and a hypothesis on why religions still exist and continue to flourish when the evidence conflicts with belief. I've read a lot of religious literature in my time, more of the Bible than most active Christians it seems, so it was nice to see the other side. It was rather refreshing to read the words of a man who doesn't tiptoe around religion as a subject and doesn't believe it should be accorded the respect it's been given in today's western society by believers and non-believers alike.

I'm not sure if we'll see his attitude adopted by the wider population in the foreseeable future, maybe if we lived in a completely rational world, but we have no idea what a world without a history of religion would be like. I'm sure we'd be killing each other anyway, over skin colour, land, resources, dress sense. The tide seems to be gushing in the opposite direction, with the recent Anti Religious Hatred Bill that the comedians were all up in arms about (watch out Stewart Lee). Why can we not have a bit of freedom of speech and an Anti Human Hatred Bill and leave it at that?

It all reminds me of the recent Big Brother racism row. If Shilpa Shetty had been white and had the same grace, stiff upper lip and composure she has now, she would still have been bullied, as the coven of witches would still have felt threatened, but it wouldn't be racism. I'm sure they could have thought of plenty of nasty little names to call her, but they wouldn't have been racist. Now I know why the double standard exists, it's in our history and our present. Racism is still a huge problem in our country, taking the piss out of someone with glasses or ginger hair is obviously less of a problem.

What was my point?

Oh yes, it's going to take a long time, if ever, for bigotry in all its forms to die out. Kill the Pig! (oops, see, I've done it again)

Currently listening: Gulag Orkestar by Beirut

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Mess Of Potage

Today's picture is in tribute to the Amnesty International protest outside the American Embassy on Grosvenor Square last week. In particular the photographs displayed on the front of one of the freebie London papers. I do admire the effort made to create a meticulous baby-sized prison outfit, but if you're going to dress your infant up in one of those gorgeous, terrorist-chic, orange jumpsuits then at least go the whole hog and ship them off to cuba, or utilise them as a handy human shield. Come on, Amnesty, let's see a new range of jail-based baby clothes. I'd buy some, and give them away to all the children that cross my path, just so I can imagine them all locked away, shivering into their liquidised rations, instead of cluttering up our baby-vomit stained streets.

Currently Listening: Lens Flare by Alphino (Buy it here)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Not The Snaquarium

A new era has begun. After previously dwelling in the habitats of 'El Swanko' and 'Le Flat Magique', the occasion of inaugurating a new flatmate demands a new flat name. As with prior naming ceremonies, many monikers were suggested and then mercilessly tossed into the epithet abyss. 'Spangly Hole/Hovel/Towers', 'Chateau Chapeau/Hat Flat' and variations thereof were summarily dismissed. After a short dalliance with 'Boris', we finally settled on the nomme d'appartement 'Stephen, the flat'.

The first 24 hours of the age of Steve, as we haven't so far liked to call it, included an amount of humping wardrobes with smirking onlookers, a hissy fit at pub, pre splishy-splashy Sainsbury's trolley based injuries, being threatened with sequined throws & glittery furnishings and cheese related Tupperware friction. Welcome to paradise.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Holy Roman Empire, Bowieman! Was that strictly necessary?

This is 2007. And this is Davey, the mild mannered sexagenarian who leads an exciting double life. For when Davey holds a microphone, an amazing transformation occurs. Davey is Bowieman. Ever alert for the call to action.

"Halt, foul creature!" booms the voice of guitar toting superhero Ziggy Stardust. The music critic barely has time to turn his head before his typing fingers are severed from his hands by the razor sharp strings. The bumbling sidekick, Aladdin Sane, turns up just in time to shout, "Beware! My face tattoo is like a shield of steel!” Ziggy walks past, gives him a slap, boards his Spidermobile and races off to see his boss, the enigmatic Thin White Duke.

Currently listening : Arrival (Deluxe Edition) by Abba

Friday, January 12, 2007

Crispy Nurse

Our heroine arrived on stage in a rather fetching brown velour v-neck and white combats combo. The blokes were all wearing hats. In a kind of cultural exchange, the English one was in a baseball cap and the Americans sported Last of the Summer Wine flat caps. The women were unadorned by head gear, but the fiddler had quite a line in stripey jumpers and unfeasibly tight jeans.

No, this is not Maurice's Fashion Hour, but the first gig of the year: Kristin Hersh at the Arts Theatre in the Big Smoke. The band consisted of "pretty much" 50 Foot Wave (bass, drums & Kristin) and British-based duo, "pretty much" The McCarricks (violin & cello). But before all that; we arrived with plenty of time for booze, doughy pizza and a touch of record shopping. When we got to the venue I managed to flog a spare ticket to a nice, quiet man, and luckily not to the loud, curly, annoying one who came bounding up, too late, all flailing arms and wide open mouth.

The McCarricks took to the stage in their matching converse trainers and proceeded to sit down in front of a large video screen. The room fell silent as the sense of anticipation rose. Images of disembodied feet, strangers in bunny masks, freaky contortionists and many more fever dreams flashed across the backdrop, as they furiously bowed at their instruments. A slight nagging headache and the early stages of drunkenness helped to induce a trance-like state, so by the end of it I was very dizzy, quite dribbly and more than a little satisfied.

Then, interval! Run to the bar, buy McCarricks CD, try and buy drink. Huge queue, barmy barmaid decides cleaning a skipping CD that no one can hear is more important than serving drinks. Bell rings, seats must be taken, but drinks must be bought and bladders must be emptied. Drinks finally in hand, hands are less plentiful than one would like in order to release fluids successfully without tainting aforementioned newly acquired drinks. Ahhhhhhhh. That's better. Quick, she's on!

Miss Hersh played her forthcoming new album in its entirety, and bloody good it is too, judging by this concert. In Shock and Under the Gun (about a crazy lady, apparently) were my favourites of the night. Then they pretended to say goodbye and buggered off, but we knew they'd be back, and they were. All except bassist Bernard, pronounced berNARD rather than the presumably less cool BERnard (I'm a prostitute robot from the future), who seemed to disappear into thin smoke. He took his time coming back on, but managed it just before it was all over and the mad stampede to the stage began in order to purchase musical treaty souvenirs.

Currently listening: 3 by The McCarricks

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Saga's End

Hold your Súrsaðir hrútspungar (deliciously cured ram's scrotum) aloft in grief; there has been another celebrity death this week. Magnús Magnússon has gone to meet his Quizmaker, to be interrogated forever, strapped into the big black armchair in the sky. Yes, I'm talking about the Mastermind one, though not the scary looking bloke standing next to the oriental bird on the front of the board game. Apparently the Mastermind theme tune was encalled 'Approaching Menace', a fitting name for the scary man, but not for cuddly old Magnús (possibly less cuddly now). Neither am I talking about 'The World's Strongest Man' Magnús Ver Magnússon, who is very much still alive (I think). No, it is definitely the magn(ús)ificently eyebrowed (eggbrowed) ma(g)n(ús).

Looking at his obituary it seems his father's name was Sigursteinn Magnússon, but Maggie (as I liked to call him) was born in Reykjavík. Under Icelandic naming conventions children take on their father’s first name as a last name, so he should've been called Magnús Sigursteinsson, which doesn't quite have the same ring to it. And if you think that's a mouthful, his mother's name was Ingibjorg Sigurdardottir, a name that requires at least two tongues to pronounce I should think (in a slightly xenophobic stylee). Meanwhile, at the Icelandic Naming Committee, who get to vet all new first names, experts have approved the use of Eberg, Tristana, Asía and Rikharður on small children, but have rejected the name Magnus (as opposed to Magnús) presumably on safety grounds.

I do like to wonder if his last words were, "I've started so I'll finish", spoken just as his heart monitor started to beep in that familiar way. Maybe that raises the prospect of the ghost of Magnús returning every so often to enunciate the tail end of a random question, and then disappear in a puff of mystery, without giving us the answer. Unless by 'finish' he meant 'die', in which case, job well done.

Currently listening: In Shock by Kristin Hersh

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Now I return to a topic I meant to rant about a couple of weeks ago, or last year if you prefer. It was just this week that the first official UK singles chart under the spanky new rules was published. Now any downloaded song can be a single and count towards the chart. It doesn't have to have a physical CD or vinyl release, it doesn't even have to be picked out as a digital single, be the subject of a multi million pound marketing campaign, be released or even re-released this year. Yes, the charts are no longer safe from the return of The Birdie Song or The Proclaimers, if enough people buy 'em. Not having done my research, I can only assume this only applies to individually downloaded songs, rather than whole albums, otherwise we'd have the hideous prospect of an entire top ten of Westlife or Take That.

This is partly a good thing; at least it takes the choice of single away from the clueless record industry and into the hands of the listener. There'll be no more games of 'guess the single' every time an album comes out. Though, people will still want to hear stuff before they buy it and the little itunes snippets just won't cut it. Telly and radio will obviously still have an influence, so the record companies will still hang onto some of their power, choosing which songs to make videos for and which to send to radio.

The one casualty of all this brouhahahaha is the humble and underrated B-side. Since the demise of the 45 or the 7" single (still just about hanging in there in indie circles) the name 'B-side' has lost its meaning, but as little as 5 years ago the single's bonus track was still in rude health. It all started with the BPI fannying about with the chart rules, outlawing the 4 track ep, arguing that the poor musicians were too tired to keep producing all these extra songs (ahh). Now even if a single is released with an accompanying track, that too could be eligible for the chart and possibly outsell the intended lead track, thus no more B-sides, just more A-sides.

Eventually, this could all lead to the demise of the album, with songs being released in smaller clumps. The record companies will be holding some back so as not to blow their wad all at once, releasing one possible 'hit' in each batch with the other songs as kind of B-sides. Hang on; I think I've argued myself round in a circle. Plus c'est la meme chose, plus ça change.

Currently listening: Complete 'B' Sides by Pixies

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Fall of Rome

The last of the week's three parties is finally over. I could now relax if I hadn't woken up with a steamy throat cold and didn't have to drag myself into work.

New Years was the obvious first party, the preparation and aftermath having already been documented in previous entries, I won't bore you with the details any longer. With only a small amount of time to draw breath, Wednesday brought birthday pants of peace to crown Miss Brown's celebratory head. The Manic Street Preachers vied with the Pink "Rinky-Dink" Panther for elbow room at the after-show shindig. How we all cried when Teddy fell over, trying to push Andy Shmpandy off his/her swing. The Care Bears looked on in horror as the multi-ethnic Fraggle Rock muppets got it on with the scary Fingerbobs man in his hideous, grey polo-neck get up. Bobtail was also going at it like the rabbit that he/she is. Watch with mother, indeed.

On Saturday morning at 9am our long journey to darkest Essex and party number three began. First a wobble-free coach to London, all limbs present and correct. Then a damp dash across the capital, collecting various record shaped bargains on the way, followed by a boozey pit stop before we were on our way again, this time by train. A last minute platform change, two minutes before the train was due to leave, created an impromptu steeple-chase across the Liverpool Street concourse. A slightly late departure caused fingers to be chewed and sweat to be nervously excreted, as it looked like our expected four minute date with Marks Tey, to catch a connecting train, would end in Mr. Tey being stood up. Luckily, we managed a thirty second quickie before setting off for wet-leafy Sudbury. A quick & soggy detour through the local Waitrose and then we were safe in the squished bosom of the birthday boy's car, twisting and turning down the excessively windey road. Eventually, we arrived at our final destination. The middle of sodding nowhere.

There was just time for a little pub interlude before getting into character as a Nazi, crook-miming, kiddie-fiddling Pope. I managed to find my motivation, and possible murder weapon, before settling down to dinner at Camp David in honour of Bill Clinton's sixtieth birthday. All the stars were there, Bill & Hillary, Melinda Gates, Condoleeza Rice, even Ruth "Belly" Kelly who was in the news just this week for being a political hypocrite (surely not). Subtle characterisation was the order of the day, George Clooney and his incessant musk, George Bush and his annoying habit of chopping out lines of flour in the bog, the eventual victim Roman I'llhavesomehamavich ending every sentence with -ivich or -ski. In the end it turned out that the arse-lickey Tony Blair (Yeah) was the murderer, in the garden, with the revolver, but no one knew exactly why.

Currently listening to this nostalgic 90s album: Everything Must Go (10th Anniversary Edition) by the Manic Street Preachers

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ten Years Older (No Surgery)

That's it, there is no point in tuning in to the goggly box for the rest of the year. The televisual event of 2007 has already taken place. Yes, it was the return of Anna, Miles, Warren, Milly & Egg (I said Egg!) to our heavily panting screens.

As I sat, quivering with anticipation, stuffing my face with an assortment of cheeses & chocolate shortbreads, itching the strange bald patch on my ankle, memories of the past decade filled the space between my eyes for a couple of seconds, until I dismissed them and tried to work out what the arse was going on in front of me.

I remember catching This Life's second ever episode over ten years ago, just as I was moving out of a shared house and back in with my parents, so I had to live vicariously through these imaginary character's stupid, funny, desperate and fulfilling lives. The recent repeats just before Christmas came at an uncomfortably familiar time, as a flatmate was moving out of our shared house after an uncanny, Delilah shaped situation.

Last night was just like the old times, everybody getting on each other's snappy nerves, shouting, bitching, a sense of complete incomprehension for the first five minutes, and then settling down into more bitching and fighting. Genius, but the main thing I got out of this most excellent programme was a sense of the fast marching sprint of time, and the creek of my knees telling me that I am ten long years older.

Currently Listening to this nostalgic 90s album: Dummy by Portishead

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ou Est Le Skag Bag? (Well, Hello There 2007)

The first five hours of the spanky new year were spent in the usual drink-fuelled frenzy, with apricot flavoured smoke, screams of joyful delight, sweaty breast stains and sparkly disco lights filling the air.

The next eight hours were spent in various stages of fitful and distressed sleep, with mucous and despair my only friends. Only then did I emerge from my smelly chrysalis, blinking behind my oversized Bulgarian sunglasses, into the afternoon's dull light.

The next few hours were spent in a hazy fug, suppressing the overwhelming urge to hibernate. My flagging spirits were only lifted by a fortuitous turkey stew and the mind-numbing magic picture box in the corner of my cell.

Happy New Yeaurgh...

Currently listening to this pressie: All Maps Welcome by Tom McRae