portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Swappers Review of the Year 2011

Bah Humbug!

Things we have learnt this year (in sound bite format)………apart from it raining apples in Coventry this year:

Out in The World

Apparently we (I say ‘we’!) have glimpsed a Higgs-Bosun and this has been the purpose of the Hadron Collider particle accelerator (huh?) at a cost of over £6billion and in need of an upgrade “to its luminosity” by 2018. Sort of like Mac Aardvark or Windows 8, I guess.

By-product- The wonderful Professor Brian Cox makes my brain hurt, evidence of a lack of intelligent design if anything was, that we are evolving at totally different rates…

The recession is still in full swing and the banks carry on as before…….we approach the near 3 million mark of unemployed and 1 million of whom are younger folk between 18-25. What troubles me here as there is much comment regarding there being another recession cueing up any second now which frankly is a bit scary as I thought we hadn’t yet seen the back of this current one!

The year was not short of natural disaster with a scale 9 earthquake causing the terrible Japanese tsunami that killed so many and caused the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. And as usual, since 9/11 the horror watched live on the tele inuring us and brutalising us to all such similar loss of life

In August there were riots and looting in London allegedly in response to the shooting of a known gun carrying Londoner. It has been well documented elsewhere but I was minded to recall that said burning and looting killed five people and made many honest hard working folk homeless. As classic an example of shooting oneself in the foot if ever there was one. Way to smash the system you looting thieving murdering morons!

People finally got up the courage to tackle the awful Murdoch empire albeit on a level that doubtless hasn’t lost him THAT much sleep but it’s a start. This saw the joyous closing of the New of The World; specious nasty little bile fuelled venomous rag of the worst yellow journalism. My Grandad liked the NoTW back in the Sixties and my Grandma wouldn’t allow it in the house! Ha ha ha…..mind you is anyone actually surprised that people have been hacking phones? I took it as a given that these venal scum who purport to be journalists would do such stuff I am only surprised its taken so long to tackle it….and then not very well.
Not least that our opticians (best typo of the year Swappers! ED) erm, politicians...ahem, ahem... have been screwing their expenses and US and getting away with it for years – comes as no surprise to me!

Apparently there were two royal weddings about which I can tell you little to nothing. So I’ll make it nothing………tumbleweed rolls across


We discovered the joy that is the Yorkshire band Wilful Missing, Lisa Hannigan we enjoyed and loved her ‘sploshing video’ that featured the new cool rock instrument of choice - the ukelele!
but I have documented my taste on the blog so in terms of the year there really isn’t much to say that this ole fogey thinks of as relevant to 2011 the Pop, Dub, House, RnB charts and popular music generally has finally left me behind…..but there is still enough out there for me to enjoy and get excited about. It may be worth trying to rescue my street cred here to mention that I HAVE quite liked Professor Green and 'Example' and still love that this appals my children!

As for Media and the Box shaped Teat in the corner of the room, we managed to avoid pretty much all the dross LCD television that illuminates the genius idea of turning the camera on the subjects with TOWIES and Desperate Scousewives, talentless oiks in the IACGMOH, Big Brother & the plethora of nightmare ‘entertainments’ from the Simon Cowell shit-factory and not to mention Dancing on Ice, ‘Talent’ competitions and X Fuctor. I can be overheard to say there is nothing on the television anymore but in fact amongst the acres of mindless drivel and dross there peeps the occasional gem I grant you. It’s just such hard work searching for them amongst the detritus.

Mind you we enjoyed Charlie Brooker’s excellent series of dramas Black Mirror and continued to enjoy the Danish factory pumping out The Killings 1 & 2 and the USA version too was an unexpectedly enjoyable re-creation.
We also found and enjoyed The Inbetweeners, Keith Lemon’s Celebrity Juice(!?! ED) and the always excellent Shane Meadows’ This is England ’88 with the brilliant cast of Thomas Turgoose, the excellent Woody played by Joe Gilgun, the mesmerising Vicky McClure the ever reliable Stephen Graham and the beautifully brilliant Rosamund Hanson.

‘The Fades’ I thought was uniformly brilliant – breaking new ground in how to do good sci-fi drama with some astonishing acting from the delightful Daniel Kaluuya (he of Psychoville and to follow in the second of Charlie Brooker’s terrific and occasionally terrifying mini drama serial) and the frankly astonishingly good actor Iain De Caestecker who I found mesmerising, playing alongside the wonderful Johnny Harris (He of ‘Rapey Dad’ fame in Shane Meadows ‘This is England’ who my daughter christened thus and has met him to boot!) The Slap with LaPaglia brother and the ever excellent Sophie Okonedo, I thought was a thought provoking adaptation of the book that caused such heated discussion & debate with astonishing episodes but with occasional mixed results somehow – e.g  the last one ‘Richie’s’ story seemed like so much padding and an afterthought to this viewer.

Comedy has become the new rock ‘n’ roll or so I’m told and we enjoyed loads of funny folk, Lee Mack’s ‘Not Going Out’ with the brilliant Tim Vine and the delicious Sally Bretton and the superb Katy Wix with Miranda Hart as the cleaner!
Him & Her with the brilliant Russell Tovey as ‘Steve’ and scrumptious Sarah Solemani as Becky not forgetting my hero Joe Wilkinson as  the upstairs neighbour. Phone Shop too made me laugh out loud and I have fallen for Emma Fryer as Janine and very much admire the star of it for me Martin Trenaman as the Sutton Store boss who must be out of his comfort zone with the younger cast members! Top fellah! We loved and fell off our chairs to Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, and still love and endure the world of Karl Pilkington in anything but especially enjoyed his Idiot Abroad if only for the shots of him bathing in the Ganges with a bona fide Guru! We enjoyed Friday Night Dinner and Twenty Twelve with the redoubtable Hugh Bonneville – how versatile is that man?!. We discovered Fresh Meat and laughed a lot…….aaah, that takes me back to Student days and no mistake! Special Mention must go here to all the actors but especially Jack Whitehall.
We enjoyed much stand up not forgetting the broadcast of the excellent biog of the force of nature that was Dan Hicks which I had missed somewhere along the way. We loved Tommy Tiernan, Mickey Flanagan, Sarah Millican, Miles Jupp & Andrew Lawrence, but we discovered new heroes here too – Gary Delaney hit me for six with his greased one-liners…….move over Tim Vine. I remain absolutely spell bound by the unique Milton Jones and would traverse hot coals to see him live…….another force of nature I feel. WE liked the fact so many women are coming through here with the wonderful Andi Osho Holly Walsh Shappi Korsandhi and Ava Vidal. Still sad to see Frankie Boyle out in the cold somewhat after leaving Mock the Week and a disastrous outing into his own vehicle which apart from the stand up parts was stupendously dreadful. Lost his bottle there somehow as the fuss in the red tops was to misunderstand what he is trying to do it seems to me……but hey! He’ll be back I’m sure.

On sadder notes………
Mother & Son - by Amy Swapp 2011

It’s traditional to mention and reflect upon those we have lost in the year and this is difficult for me as it starts and finishes really with the loss of my beloved mother – my pal and confidante and nurturing of all that I have done or become is due to her, including my two wonderful children - nothing funny to say about that at all. 
Well,......except perhaps to mention when last we visited her in hospital with brain cancer and yet curiously serene at times she would look around the ward and reflect by saying “I wonder who pays the electricity bill?” and in a quiet moment when my daughter and I were sat at her bedside she suddenly said   “Oh dear me…………

What a flower I be…………

Two Young men came a courting me
One was blind and the other couldn’t see
Oh dear me, what a Flower I be

She was 89, Ever a Northern lass being born in Manchester and despite living down south for the past 50 years and she was simply wonderful of course. I miss her every day.We also lost a dear dear old friend in John Northcote, a friend of my brothers first but big brother to my old school pal Bill Northcote, we became fast friends with he and his first wife Heather and their children Kirsten & Kian who we are still in touch with. He introduced us to much music through the unique Sunshine records in Oxford and went on to bigger and better things at Virgin, Break For The Border and became CEO at Academy Music Group responsible for The Border, Shepherds Bush Empire and the Brixton Academy as AMG's obituary says "John was one-of-a-kind, an industry professional, an easy-going, all-round good guy, classically handsome, with a kind, caring and unassuming personality." Very true and we will all miss him.

We also lost some great favourites and heroes – Richard Hamilton, Bert Jansch,…………Christopher Hitchens, essayist and raconteur par excellence – he of the quote describing Mother Teresa as a “lying thieving Rumanian dwarf”, Pete Postlethwaite, the tragic Amy Winehouse, unusual for me to list a politician but mention must got the loss of Vaclev Havel if only for naming his change of political system the Velvet Revolution after his passion for The Velvet Underground and who else this year has had heads of state turn up to his funeral with a message from the Pope followed by a Rock Concert?!

Other folk I admired lost this year............
Christopher Logue - poet I admired as a child and since.....
Cesaria ‘Cise’ Evora - the wonderful Cape Verde singer I first found in New York....sounds good huh? It was.......she was......she is!
 ...and if you enjoyed that check this link to here performing the same wonderful song SODADE with a band I love and have posted here before, this in tribute to Cise & KASSAV and their singer Patrick St. Eloi who also has sadly passed away........
Cesaria Evora and Kassav - Sodade
Need a lift? Feeling low? check this......Souk is the medicine for me

Rest in Peace.....
Gerald Laing - artist
Gil Scott Heron - master poet, musician singer and godfather of rap
Edmundo Ross - Trinidadian Band leader
Betty Driver - actress
Margaret Tyzack - actress
Wild Man Fischer - musician
Benny Spellman - musician
Lucien Freud - Britains greatest painter
Cy Twombly - great USA painter
Anna Masey - wonderful actor
Henry Cooper - boxer and thoroughly nice bloke
Poly Styrene - punk singer without peer
Sidney Lumet - film director
Liz Taylor - some actress
Pinetop Perkins - blues pianist
Jet Harris - first hero guitar player
Keith Fordyce - radio broadcaster and presenter of Ready Steady Go and friend to the Beatles
Stanley Owsley - erm, master of LSD
Jane Russell - actress
Clarence Clemmons - master saxophonist and pillar of the Springsteen East Street Band
T. P. McKenna - great actor
Maria Schnieder - beauty from Last Tango
Gerry Rafferty - Singer songwriter

it's been kindly pointed out that I have forgotten a few:
Ken Russell - film maker without equal
Sir Jimmy Saville - without whom....etc etc
David Croft and John Sullivan without whom we wouldn't have laughed quite so much
Boxer Gary Mason
Susanna York
the fine fine actor Michael Gough
Elisabeth Sladen of Dr Who fame - we adored her when young as the sexiest sidekick
comedienne Janet Brown
Peter 'Columbo' Falk
Diane Cilento
Trevor Bannister
George Baker
Joe Frazier
and to those who mentioned Steve Jobs - I didn't list him for a reason and whilst I use an Apple Mac and iPad and various Apple music players and I truly appreciate what he has done for technology, I feel ambivalent about his passing as a person....perhaps now it won't be such a megalomaniacal company......juss saying. Too much ego can be a terrible thing in business........well it's a terrible thing all round.........

plus a couple we didn't mind losing
Murderer Donald Nielsen
Osama Bin Laden
oops. forgot Muammar Gaddafi & Kim Jong Il
murderers all

'On the way' ......taken from the car with my phone going with my Amy to see Mum in hospital in Wantage 2011

still always the rebel.....ahem ahem.........

1 comment:

JohnnyC said...

Who needs papers. Great summary...and excellent reading.