Singles of the year: #6

6. Covered In Punk – Portobella

1999: My Name Is – Eminem
1994: All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow (WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?)
1989: Ride On Time – Black Box
1984: Beat Box / Diversions 1-4 / Moments In Love – Art Of Noise

Another smash hit that never was: irresistible turbo-charged bubblegum punk, as assembled by the same guy (Michael Gray) who was responsible for one of 2004’s big gay club anthems (The Weekend).

Apparently, Portobella were also the winners of some reality show on MTV. Fat lot of good it did them, then.

Coming Soon: The Top Five. Have you made your prediction yet?

(To view the countdown so far, please check the comments box beneath this post.)

Singles of the year: #7 (NMC)

7. Dry Your Eyes – The Streets

1999: Rendez-Vous – Basement Jaxx
1994: Parklife – Blur
1989: Fools Gold/What The World Is Waiting For – The Stone Roses
1984: I Feel For You – Chaka Khan

Friday June 25, 2004.


I tried, I really tried.


We had just finished watching the so-so Michael Douglas thriller on Sky. As I needed to check the progress of the match before heading out to meet A in the pub, I successfully negotiated a lightening-quick flick over to BBC1, in the few available seconds before Big Brother.

Only to witness, at that precise moment, Portugal’s extra time goal.

“Oh my God!” we shrieked.

“That’s it then”, I authoritatively declared, still labouring under the delusion that extra time operated on a sudden-death principle. “England are out of Euro 2004”.

And texted A in the sports bar:
I'll get my coat. 馃槮

And finally looked up again, and realised that the game was still going. A-hum.

“I feel like we’ve jinxed the match”, I wailed.

“Better watch the rest of it, then.”

Within seconds, the last two effete footie-phobes in town had metamorphosed into standard issue Come On Englanders. Why, I could hear our very vocal chords hardening over, even as our vocabulary contracted into guttural monosyllabics.

Shoe-horned into the collective consciousness. Helplessly abased before the Higher Power of聽Speuuurght.

As Engerland equalised, some deep-seated Pavlovian impulse caused us to rise up off the sofa as one, making those tight little fist-stabs as we did so.

“It’s going to penalties!”

I text A again:
F***ing hell! 馃檪
He texts back:
My heart!
We’re not built for this.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Striding into town to make it to the Roberts for last orders, deftly weaving my way through the shell-shocked crowds spilling out of the sports bars, I am struck by the weird, subdued atmosphere that prevails. It’s so… quiet. Everywhere I look, lads are perched on the edge of the pavement; or stretched flat out on it; or slumped against walls, absently texting. Directing my own video-montage, I start mentally overdubbing the soundtrack.

Dry your eyes mate / I know you want to make her see how much this pain hurts / But you鈥檝e got to walk away now / It鈥檚 over.

Snatches of conversation:

“I wanna see Sweden f***ing smash them in the semis. No, even better; I wanna see them get to the f***ing finals, think they’re gonna f***ing win, then…”

“Can’t believe they just played that Britney Spears song at the end. Like that’s gonna cheer us up…”

“Yeah but, you gotta admit, it takes a lot of guts to come back and equalise like that, right at the end…”

I give K a quick call, just to bear witness.
“Honestly, you’d think Princess Diana had just died.”

Even in the Roberts, the queens are all a-twitter. At the bar, I tell the story of how my Nokia – the聽gayest mobile in the whole world, like, ever – had changed footie to ennui. People start checking their own.

“No, it just comes up with foothe.”

“Darling! Ennui simply isn’t in my lexicon!”

As the beers kick in, a sort of refractory queeniness has begun to steal over us. A necessary corrective process, no doubt. Excitedly, A starts to tell me all about his new bit-of-rough builder friend.

“Darling! Lucky you! How rough exactly?”

“Well, just before Euro 2004, the police called round to his house and confiscated his passport. I think he must be on some sort of List.”

“Darling! The sex must be fabulous! But does he know that you’re a native Portugese speaker? He doesn’t? Oh, I don’t think you should tell him. At least, not unless you’re up for some extremely聽adventurous role play…”

In the late bar over the road, the mutual healing continues until stupid o’clock. Even the regular Thursday night trannies are bitching about that silly Swiss hem-hem of a ref. As ever, the more slurred and messy everyone gets, the more fulsomely articulate I become. (Why is this?)

It’s the landlord’s last night, so the final rounds of drinks are on the house. The wiry little skinhead in the corner has hitched his T-shirt up, his beltless waistband down, and is distractedly stroking the area in between, over and over and over again; the effect is quite mesmerising. Pints are sloshed onto the carpet, nonchalantly; arses are grabbed, inappropriately; no-one can understand a word that anyone else is saying, but no-one seems to care.

Good grief. We’re not even like this over Eurovision.

As you were, sisters. As you were.

(This piece originally appeared as a guest post on Sashinka.)

Already listed:
#7 Dry Your Eyes – The Streets (dave again) #15 Heartbeats – The Knife (Swish David) #16Trick Me – Kelis (Ben) #19 Babycakes – 3 Of A Kind (dave) #29 Girls (rex the dog mix) – The Prodigy (Waitrose David) #32 Toxic – Britney Spears (Angus) #36 I Believe In You – Kylie Minogue (Joe) #38 Love Machine – Girls Aloud (Alan) #49 The Show – Girls Aloud (Paul) #64 Take Your Mama – Scissor Sisters (Chig) #85 Matinee – Franz Ferdinand (timothy)

Not (yet?) listed:
Tits On The Radio – Scissor Sisters (Todd) Filthy/Gorgeous – Scissor Sisters (asta) Common People – William Shatner & Joe Jackson (Gary F.) Real To Me – Brian McFadden (Alan again) Music Is My Boyfriend – Hidden Cameras (timothy again) Double Drop – Fierce Girl (Chig again) Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand (Blue Witch)

Singles of the year: #8

8. I’m A Cuckoo / I’m A Cuckoo (Avalanches remix) – Belle & Sebastian

1999: Afrika Shox/Phat Planet – Leftfield
1994: Live Forever – Oasis
1989: She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals
1984: Rock Box – Run DMC

Best bit of the Avalanches remix (although “remake” is probably a better term in this instance) – when the track finishes, and the South Sudanese choir keep right on chanting, eventually dissolving into whoops and cheers, and one final uproarious burst of laughter.

Singles of the year: #9

9. You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve – Johnny Boy

1999: I Try – Daffy Duck Macy Gray
(Hmm. Some songs have more longevity than others, don’t they?)
1994: Regulate – Warren G/Nate Dogg
1989: French Kiss – Lil’ Louis
1984: Lost In Music (1984 remix) – Sister Sledge

1. For the title alone. I mean, come ON, classic or classic?

2. For James Dean Bradfield’s widescreen, Spector-esque production – right down to the nicking of the “Be My Baby” drumbeat intro. (I’ve been a sucker for Spector pastiches ever since the days of Wizzard.)

3. For the trumpets.

4. For the “yeah yeahs”.

5. For the Tomorrow Never Knows screechy squawky bits.

6. For the way it builds, and builds, and builds, and then builds some more.

7. For the way it sounds like the missing link between Pete Wylie’s Wah! and Little Does She Know聽by The Kursaal Flyers.

8. For the way that, despite my not having the faintest clue what they’re actually singing about, this still manages to sound Anthemic and Significant and A Definitive Statement Of Its Time, To Which We Should All Pay Heed. Because I like it when pop plays tricks like that.

Hockley Babylon, Trannie Talk, and a couple of MP3s to break your heart. (NMC)

(ADMIN: Post delayed/revised from Monday night, due to the lateness of the hour and the advanced state of decrepitude of the author.)

Flipping heck. Two full days after Saturday’s Last-Night-EVER-At-George’s-Bar Marathon Bender To End All Benders, and my brain is still like concrete. Which TOSSER was it who said “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”, anyway?

(UPDATE: Oh! It was William Blake! And the full quote actually reads: The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom – for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough. Whoops! Point taken!)

A great night, though – even if poor old K only lasted a bare hour, due to the crowds, the noise and the claustrophobia.

(At which point they put someone on the door, thus swiftly reducing the numbers to a more manageable level, as the mid-evening bridge-and-tunnel crowd moved on to ritzier pastures. Unfortunately, the new regulars-only policy meant that poor old Dymbel was refused admission. If this doesn’t convince him of the benefits of texting, then I fear nothing will.)

For me, the defining pinnacle moment came at around 2am, when Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5 got the whole bar on its feet – even the ones who “don’t dance, darling” – for a shared moment of delirious communion. Trannies on the tables, respectable elderly gentlemen in burgundy cummerbunds tapping their toes, gurning queens passing round the poppers, straight boys snogging gay boys snogging fag-hags, ashtrays spilling onto ruched silk, tables teetering (“careful darling, that’s champagne”), nice young gels hurling their guts up into the one remaining functional wash basin, while other nice young gels held their hair back … Hockley Babylon, it was. We shall not see its like again.

(Neil MovieBuff, another George’s regular, also writes about the night on his own blog, with his customary eloquence.)

I’ve also been corresponding, at some length, with one of my fellow Bloggies finalists – the lovely Siobhan of Tranniefesto – about perceptions of the whole cross-dressing scene, following a comment I left in this post. (Scroll past the rant about traffic in Lancaster, until you get to the section titled Whoo! Long hair!) Part of me wishes that we were blogging our conversation, rather than hiding it away in e-mails – although Siobhan does expand on the subject in this post. (Needless to say, the other part of me wishes that I didn’t spend quite so much time mining real life for blog posts.)

Anyway. To compensate for the break in service, have a couple of MP3s. Both of these popped up at random on my iPod during Monday, and both got me right THERE. The first is a bitter-sweet “farewell to all that” lament, full of wistful regret, which seems appropriate under the circumstances. The second is a heartbreaking soul ballad from 1970, which I found in one of the few crates that remain from James Hamilton‘s collection.

No multi-tasking when you listen to these, please. They both require your full attention.

Nightsong – Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft
(Buy it from Amazon UK.)

Go On Fool – Marion Black
(Buy it from Amazon USA.)