Friday, 22 July 2011

Captain Haddock's Beard

If you were to try and name a good song that Sting has done as a solo artist I bet most of you would struggle. Police songs don't count as they were a lighting-in-a-bottle collaboration of Copeland and Summers and Sting.

No, I mean the stuff he has done since then. Englishman in New York sounds like elevator music, Fields of Gold is the sort of dirge that people play at funerals and The Russians contains the line 'Believe me when I say to you' which is the sort of line an amateur songwriter would cram in to make it rhyme .

Yet he is still around, knocking out laclkustre songs that bimble in one ear and out the other, leaving no discernible trace of their passing, sung in an annoying nasal whine with no range.

A couple of years ago he managed to climb new heights of pretension when he released an album of folk music and to show his commitment he had a suitably folksy image update by growing a beard of Captain Haddock proportions that looked like a Welcome mat wrapped around his neck.

But this is not enough for The Stingster, he accompanies the album with an hour long concert filmed in Durham Cathedral and shown on the BBC over Christmas called 'Stings Winter Songbook'.

Not happy with a full orchestra he also surrounds himself with choirs, Morrocan percussionists, throat singers and people playing instruments so bizarre they look like something from a Dr Seuss book.

Despite all of this back up it still manages to sound like a load of meandering, tuneless cack

Interspersed with the concert footage we get to see His Stingness wandering around a street market in his hometown of Newcastle, looking all 'back to his roots' in his big coat and scarf and regaling the viewer with tales of how his dad took him to the same market when he was a kid.

He then engages in some awkward banter with a market trader and buys a book on Newcastle United which he doesn't even pay for, having to borrow ten quid off the cameraman.

I suppose if he is this skint it might explain his desire to push his new album so much.

I'm sure Mr Sting has a good reason for calling himself Sting but I don't care and can't be bothered finding out, such is the lack of passion the man arouses. I don't know anybody who goes to his concerts or buys his albums, I know the Police reunion was popular but the attraction for people there was the band as a whole, not Sting himself.

However Sting is a rich man and will carry on doing what he likes, churning out songs that are tolerated rather than enjoyed, much like Paul McCartney.

And before anybody says it I am fully aware that Sting is a highly successful musician who is so rich that he didn't even notice when his accountant syphoned five million quid out of Sting's account and I have just done four night shifts in a row and feel like I ahve been punched in the brain.

So yes, I am bloody jealous of him.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Enormous Bollocks.

I visited The Great Yorkshire Show this week for the first time, this is an annual agricultural show where the regions farmers gather to compete their livestock and drink lots of Black Sheep Bitter. The place was also crawling with landed gentry who walked around wearing Bertie Wooster style tweed clothes and posh hair.

A walk around the livestock pens was an eye opener, I've seen plenty of cows and sheep in my time but these have all been average, run of the mill animals. The ones in the pens were the super models of the livestock world, enormous sheep with gold coloured fleeces, bulls as big as vans and and a huge variety of pigs. Everywhere I looked there were stud animals, bulls, rams and boars and all of them with gigantic testicles.

Young farmhands sat between the stalls talking and drinking beer, every so often getting up to wipe a cows backside and squirt it with water after it had a crap to keep it's anus in show-standard condition.

We watched a falconry display where the falconer flew an enormous African Griffin Vulture with a seven and a half foot wingspan. Before it took off he warned that if it should land in the crowd then no-one should attempt to stroke it as it would have their fingers off.

Off it flew, flapping it's massive wings to gain height. It reached a decent altitude then banked with the turning circle of an aircraft carrier and headed straight at me.

Now I've never seen a vulture up close before, let alone have come hurtling towards me and this one looked as big as a small family car with wings. I ducked my head a little too late and got a slap in the face from the end of it's wing. It landed right behind me.

It was the height of a small child and was looking balefully at me in the eye and nobody in their right mind would try and stroke something that looked as hard as that.

A little later we saw a large crowd gathered near the sheep-shearing competition pens and lots of coppers helmets poking above the crowds heads.

Prince Charles and Camilla had turned up to have a nosey around. Now as well as never seeing a vulture in the flesh I've never seen a real live royal before and I tend to think that people who wait for hours to get a glimpse of a royal are a bit mental.

It turns out that I am in fact one of these people and ran over to get a look at them as they examined some fleeces, talked to some men wearing bowler hats, had a bit of a chat with some of the crowd then got in some well armoured 4x4's and left.

So there we are, The Great Yorkshire Show. I saw my first Royal, lots and lots of of animal bollocks and got a slap off a vulture. Not bad for twenty quid.