Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Housekeeping: I was intending this Ten Things to be about books, but something got in the way, specifically me going over to Richmond for the evening last night instead of Wednesday. So, the books multi-part thing will be running from three weeks from next Friday. Then, there’ll be be one on the day before Christmas and then we’ll be at New Year’s Eve… and done for this year.

Listening to Desert Island Discs today, the guests, Carl Hester, said something that struck home: he said that there are some songs he could listen to over and over again before he grew tired of them… but there are also songs that he never grows tired of.

Here are ten from me of the latter, one per artist. (Note: I’m excluding comedy and novelty songs from this list: there are just too many that fit the category, enough that they could each fit an entry all on their own, and may do at some point in the future.)

The usual reminder for all of these Ten Things… they’re not the best, nor necessarily my favourites. They’re just Ten Things/Subjects I like… at the time of writing, or in this case ten songs I can listen to again and again, never tiring of them.

1. Have You Ever Seen The Rain? by Creedence Clearwater Revival
As so often is the case, I came across a song I instantly loved purely by chance. I’d dropped out of watching Stargate SG-1 long before the final episodes, but when they showed the finale a few years ago, I caught it. about ¾ of the way through the episode, there’s a montage sequence, overlaying this song. And I mean, I’m not even the hugest fan of Creedance Clearwater Revival. I like their stuff but this song had never really registered. But for whatever reason, this time, the song hit home. And there’s just something about it that keeps it there.

2. You’re My Home by Billy Joel
There are at least a dozen songs by Billy Joel that could have made this list; I unreservedly love The Longest Time and Tell Her About It, but it’s this one that I picked. Absolutely not – in case anyone is foolish enough to suggest it – because I identify with the protagonist of the song. I think I must have made that clear in the Ten Things from a couple of weeks’ back. But just in case… no. I just think it’s a fantastic song that I could listen to forever.

3. Mother’s Little Helper by The Rolling Stones
In the early 1990s, I picked up a copy of Hot Rocks, a Rolling Stones compilation albums covering their work from 1964 to 1971. A glorious collection of their early work; not a duff song on the album. But it was the first time I’d heard Mother’s Little Helper, and I found myself playing the song again and again, and again, each time finding something new in the track. It’s deceptively brutal and clever as hell.

4. Last Night by Chris De Burgh
At one point I was a huge fan of de Burgh. I’m not sure why now, as a lot of the songs I liked back then I find… tiresome now. But not this one. A story, as many of his songs are, but the difference between the soft verses and the rising of the chorus just works for me. And I still love this song, so yah boo sucks if you don’t. (That’s not to say that I dislike all of his work, especially his earlier stuff. I still think loads of it is fantastic.)

5. Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall
A song I discovered because Marks & Spencer had it accompanying their Christmas ad one year. One more song I heard once and then searched it out so I could listen to it repeatedly. There’s not much else of her work I like, but this one? Yeah, very very much.

6. Last Train To Clarksville by the Monkees
Again, there are three or four I could have picked from the Monkees, including Daydream Believer, I’m A Believer and even Randy Scouse Git. The latter is particularly fun if only because of lyric ‘the four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor…’. But Last Train To Clarksville trumps them all just because… well, I don’t know why, but it does.

7. A Night Like This by Caro Emerald
I love Caro Emerald’s voice; Captivated me the first moment I heard it and it’s a voice I could easily imagine dancing to (yes, even me, who loathes dancing) or just cuddling up to someone listening to it. Or maybe smoking a joint and drifting off to it. And this is just a wonderful example of her being wonderful. There’s joy in this song. I wonder why I like it. I have no idea.

8. I Can Dream by Skunk Anansie
One of three very very personal picks in this list, songs that are – at least in part – because they remind me of someone. And you get no more than that from me. It’s the sort of song that I wouldn’t otherwise have listened to, let alone loved. But this song? Yeah, this song is special to me.

9. Me and Charlie Talking by Miranda Lambert
My tv service used to show the country channel. And every so often, when I was working or writing, I’d have it on in the background. I discovered Miranda Lambert because of that, and this song for the same reason. I was naive enough not to realise when I heard it that it was a huge hit. I can understand why. I really really like it.

10. (And) It’s Getting Better by Mama Cass
I’m not someone who likes songs about love. Not really. I’m certainly not someone who likes upbeat songs about the glory of love and how bloody awesome it is. And, yet, I love this song and could listen to it on repeat for a very, very, very long time.

And that’s it – I came close to extending this and putting another three in, just for the hell of it (Keep Me In Your Heart, by Warren Zevon, The Bed Song by Amanda Palmer, and Downtown by Petula Clark) but they just didn’t make the cut…

Maybe if I do this again…

If you enjoyed this Ten Things, I’ve done others.

See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 approaching.

I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

Well, a week’s worth of posts – once this one is done – and I”m not entirely sure how I’ve managed it without reaching for one of my pre-prepared ‘in case of emergency, post this’ posts. What I am sure about, however, is that planning it out better than I did probably would have been a good idea.

Because we’re on the first Sunday post of the run… and this is the third attempt at writing it.

Because I really, really don’t want to write about politics, British politics that is, this early in the run.

I want to have a few more posts under my belt, and feel more comfortable writing a few hundred words without feeling like the words are going to dry up any moment. But I know that if I try to express my contempt for, my anger at, and my despair at the state of, and the future of, British politics right now? The words won’t come. Oh, they’ll be there for a hundred well-chosen, probably sweary, words, maybe two hundred even. But after that, there’s nothing I can say or write that others can’t say or write… better. And with more justification.

So, until either I can write a few hundred words without it being a stream of swearing obscenities, or I can write a few hundred words of swearing obscenities and make it good writing, I’ll have to find other subjects about which to opine.

So, instead, today, you’ve got something on teachers, and school.

I was thinking about teachers, earlier today. But in an indication of how my mind… ‘works’ (for lack of a better descriptor)… I got there by thinking about Rachel Maddow, of MSNBC, and how much I enjoy her show.

Because it’s Sunday and Rachel Maddow only does her show Monday to Friday. And so I was regretting that I don’t even have the podcast of her show broadcast last night to listen to. I like listening to Maddow, or even watching the show if I’ve managed to get a copy from, erm, places online.

I realised some time ago that a lot of the reason I enjoy her “let’s reach back in history, give you all a brief summary of something that happened and link it to something that happened today…” style is because it reminds me so much of Alistair Cooke. And thinking of Alistair Cooke inevitably makes me think of his Letter From America. And thinking of Letter From America equally inevitably makes me think of a fella named John Ramm, who was my politics tutor at A-Level, at Luton VI Form College. Tuesday mornings, we had double-politics. And John used to play that week’s Letter From America at the start of the lesson.

While I was kind of mildly interested in politics before I met him, his classes got me very interested, somewhat in politics itself, the ideologies and beliefs therein, but wholly and completely in the processes of, and the operation of, comparative political systems.

Not entirely a surprise, I grant, since the A-Level was entitled “Government and Comparative Political Systems”.

It once again reminded me how lucky I was to have some seriously good teachers during my education and I remember the best of them with heartfelt gratitude. Those subjects for which I had good teachers were those which, in later life, I maintained an interest; mathematics, english language, computers, science…

But those subjects for which I had lousy teachers (not entirely a coincidence that for the most part I didn’t like them and vice versa) almost always were subjects about which I had no interest in the time… and crucially developed no interest in later life.

History was a notable exception; I loathed most of my teachers in the subject, including one who very obviously regard the attempted extermination of Jews by the Nazis as a somewhat minor and unimportant, indeed barely worth mentioning, topic in the larger study of World War II and even within the study and analysis of the Holocaust itself.

Only as an adult did I discover well written, well taught and well described history. And while I never fell in love with the subject, I did at least gain some appreciation for it.

The two that stand out as subjects I disliked (and so, apparently, did my teachers) were Geography and Music. I don’t really care about the former; I’m sure it’s important in general and all that, but I just never saw any use in it as a subject for me. As I alluded the other day, not once have I felt my lack of knowledge a drawback, especially not with Wikipedia and encyclopaedias there if I need a specific fact.

Ah,” I hear you cry, “but without the basic knowledge, you won’t be able to appreciate the context nor to apply it accurately.” To which I respond, “yes, I know, and I’m ok with that.”

But Music? All of the music teachers we had seemed there almost as a punishment to us… and to them. And I genuinely regret that for so many reasons. I have next to no musical skill, and I really wish I did. I enjoy music, but couldn’t tell you why, nor identify the skills necessary to make music. My friend, the musical comedian Mitch Benn, once tried, as others have, to explain musical keys to me. He didn’t quite end up tearing his hair out, but it was close.

(And if you read the above and think you can explain them to me, I beg you not to attempt to do so; it’d be like trying to teach juggling to an arthritic elephant. You won’t succeed and you’ll piss off the elephant while trying.)

Lyrics of songs? Yes, those I can identify with. I appreciate a good lyric as much as any writer; lyrics can make me laugh, and can break my heart, sometimes within the same song. I know the synergy of music and lyrics lift me… but couldn’t for the life of me explain why.

Singing? I can’t carry a tune in a bucket… And various friends who’ve heard me are honest enough to admit that, while being nice enough people to stay friends with me after suffering my… singing.

Despite me apparently having a good voice when I was a child, when my voice broke broke, it didn’t merely break, but rather shatter into a thousand shards…

That’s something else I regret, and it’s entirely non-coincidental that whenever I think that I’d like to learn to play an instrument, it’s always a musical instrument that involves me very much not being able to sing at the same time I play it.

On writing this post, it occurs to me that there are two other things about which I’m apparently unteachable.

Cooking. I’ll include any form of food preparation in here, but yeah, cooking. Anything that takes more than a few minutes, and I’m lost. Truly. An example. I have a microwave that apparently allows convection cooking. I say apparently because I’ve always been too scared to try it out. One of the loveliest people on the planet – my ex-wife Laura – has tried to teach me to use it. We never last more than about three minutes before me and, as I say, one of the loveliest people on the planet, are fiercely arguing. And it ends up with her taking the perfectly reasonable and rational position… that I am an idiot.

Which I wouldn’t disagree with.

There are, maybe, a dozen different things I’m… ‘comfortable’ cooking. And that includes omelettes and toast. And any attempt, self-taught or taught by others, to increase my range… has always ended up with me either furious, upset, or self-loathing. Often all three.

And then there’s… dancing, or really any social situation where it’s even remotely possible that I’ll make a damn fool of myself in public. For that ‘remotely possible’ will morph inside my head within moments to become ‘a raging certainty’. I gave up – yes, I acknowledge fully that it was my decision, made in the service of self-protection – even trying. (And if you think that’s it’s not entirely coincidental that I’ve been single for more than a decade and a half, you may not be wrong.)

Y’know, talking about teaching makes me wonder whether to do another ‘teach me‘ post – about things I don’t know I don’t know, about skills I actually do fancy learning at some point – in this run. Hmm. Something to consider…

See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

About six weeks ago, I put up here, for posterity, my answers to the 30-Day Song Challenge.

It’s started with:

Well, that was fun…

It’d been ages since I’d done one of these, and seeing various friends do it, and my missing #ThisIsMyJam, I figured why not.

The rules were simple.

Basically, this:

And then I put up all the videos from the run in a single post: this post.

After that ‘thirty day’ run, Al Kenendy suggested another thirty days’ worth and I was having such fun doing it, I completed that as well.

So, as before, since it’s kind of nice to have a permanent record of such things, here is what I chose:

DAY 31: a song you first heard in a movie or tv series

Well, I first heard THIS as the theme tune to the tv series COVER UP, which – given the credits below – was probably just as bad as I remember the show being.

Holding Out For A Hero | Bonnie Tyler

DAY 32: a song with a place in the title

I’ve heard many versions of this song (most recently at the end of Good Omens, sung by Tori Amos) but I always particularly liked this version…

A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square | Rod Stewart

DAY 33: a song that gets stuck in your head

Oh, this one – after I first heard it – got stuck in my head for months.

Suddenly, I See | KT Tunstall

DAY 34: a song that refers to another song or artist

I was very so tempted to put one of half a dozen of Mitch’s (particularly ‘Victoria Did’), but there’s more of his coming.

So here’s something else, an old favourite.

America Pie | Don McLean

DAY 35: a song from the year you left school

Lord knows what ‘when you left school’ means if you did A-levels then uni; I’m guessing it means ‘doing your O’levels, GCSEs’, age 16, so… 1980.

And in 1980, I loved this song.

Geno | Dexy’s Midnight Runners

DAY 36: a song you know the words to off by heart

I’ve been a fan of Flanders and Swann as long as I can recall, especially of the lyrics of Michael Flanders, who created some of the best ‘stunt rhyming’ around.

Friendly Duet | Flanders and Swann

DAY 37: a song that reminds you of winter

Well, it says “winter” not “Christmas”. Hmmm.

OK, this one then.

Hazy Shade of Winter | Simon & Garfunkel

DAY 38: a song without any guitars

I suspect Al will think I’m cheating to go fully a cappella, but I’m going to anyway.

Only You | the Flying Pickets

DAY 39: a song that sounds best when listened to through headphones

Best listened to through headph—? Oh, I see: one you’re embarrassed to let other people know you like.

It didn’t mean that?

OK, here’s a song.

Me and Charlie Talking | Miranda Lambert

DAY 40: a song featuring an unusual instrument

Oh, I think there’s one obvious response to this request.

Lady of Spain | Marvin Suggs

DAY 41: a song you always make other people listen to

Distinct from the earlier ‘a song you think everyone should listen to’, presumably?

Well, I was sending everyone this at the turn of the year. It’s still a good aim.

Happier New Year | Mitch Benn

DAY 42: a song that got you through hard times

I don’t think a song has ‘got me through hard times’. I don’t tend to use music for that. But this is one that could do it for me…

In My Mind | Amanda Palmer

DAY 43: a song about a real person

I was delighted to learn a while back that this song’s about Don McLean. Originally written and performed by Lori Lieberman but I prefer the cover attached.

Killing Me Softly With His Song | Roberta Flack

DAY 44: a song about a breakup

Oh, I think this one does the job quite nicely.

I Will Survive | Gloria Gaynor

DAY 45: a song with food or drink in the title

Was going to go with Sundae Girl by Blondie, but everyone would shout at me.

So, instead…

Strawberry Fields Forever | The Beatles

DAY 46: a song with lyrics in a language other than English

Doesn’t say whether ALL the lyrics have to be in a language other than English, or just some of them.

I’m going for the former, since the original was in German…

99 Luftballons | Nena

DAY 47: a song you would sing as a lullaby

Well, obviously this one.

Lullaby For The Real World | Mitch Benn

DAY 48: a song best listened to late at night

Late at night for me means they’re on in the background while I’m writing, or working on something, or just… thinking.

Just… there.

I put this album on the other night.

The Boxer | Simon & Garfunkel

DAY 49: a song that grew on you

There are half a dozen already in this thing that qualify.

But here’s one that definitely did. Never particularly liked it. Have grown to like it more over the years.

Year of The Cat | Al Stewart

DAY 50: a song that gets you psyched up

Huh. Genuinely don’t think there’s a song that does this. I don’t think there is, anyway.

But there’s this, which always makes me walk just a little bit faster…

It’s Raining Men | The Weather Girls

DAY 51: a song that reminds you of someone you miss

No comment, just the song.

Pretty Flamingo | Manfred Mann

DAY 52: a cover you heard before you heard the original

Oh, an easy one. One I remember hearing, and then being told ‘oh, you know that’s a cover…?’

Tainted Love | Soft Cell

DAY 53: a song featuring at least two vocalists

An easy one. I’ve heard several version of this; Liz Ryan’s is particularly good. But the original? Perfect.

Joyce The Librarian | Richard Stilgoe and Peter Skellern

DAY 54: a song you would use as your entrance music for a sporting event

Heh. I don’t care that everyone would be confused and wondering why…


Magnificent Seven Theme | Elmer Bernstein

DAY 55: a song about behaving badly

Ah, the amazing Kirsty Newton, with a song Mitch Benn wrote very specifically for her.

(Intro first; song starts at 1:15)

Now He’s Gone | Kirsty Newton (with Mitch Benn, and Ivan Shepherd)

DAY 56: a song by an artist you don’t otherwise like

I’m glad this says merely “don’t… like’ rather than “actively dislike”. Plenty of the former, fewer of the latter.

Never really liked anything else he did, but:

The Last Farewell | Roger Whittaker

DAY 57: a song you’d use to get a party started

Depends on what kind of party, I guess.

But how about this?

Brown Eyed Girl | Van Morrison

DAY 58: a song that makes you laugh

Oh, where the hell do I start?

(In the original run of this, I somehow used a song of Mitch’s I’d already used: Lullaby For The Real World. Oops.)

So, here’s another song:

Fifty States | John Oliver and a load of kids


DAY 59: a song with a day of the week in the title

Well, since I couldn’t use it earlier, let’s use it today.

Sunday Girl | Blondie

DAY 60: a song you want played at your funeral.

Pshaw. Obvious, really, for many reasons.

4’ 33” | John Cage

Extra note: when I originally put this song up, a couple of people thought I was just being, well, just being me. As in, ‘Budgie doesn’t want any music played’. No it’s not that. Well, ok, it’s not only that. I’m Jewish, and you don’t have music at a Jewish funeral. Hence the ‘for many reasons’.



Well, that was fun…

I’ve taken a short break doing a ‘something a day, every day’ on Twitter, but come December, I’ll kick it off again with something else. So you can either follow my choices, usually posted about 6pm UK time, on Twitter at @budgie, or wait and I’ll probably put them up here when completed.…


Meanwhile, the usual something else tomorrow…

Hello there. Welcome to whatever the hell this is.

I doubt I’ve gained many new readers since the last time this was offered, but just in case, here’s how I opened the 55 minus countdown; there’s a pretty good FAQ in there, and of course, you can ask if there’s anything else, either in the comments or here.

Which leaves me with an odd situation. I mean, I said yesterday that I’m doing this, and pretty much why I’m doing this, and a fair bit about how I’m doing this, and what I’ve got in mind for this.

Usually, I’d put up a refreshed FAQ but again, I kind of did that four months ago, and not much has changed since then.

So instead, sparked by a memory of the ‘things you don’t know about me’ threads online, and those ‘here are three/five/ten facts about me; one of them is false’, here are three things about me that you may not know, or that you may know but don’t know much about, or just that are odd things.

I can’t play any musical instruments

I’d say that I’ve never been able to play any musical instruments but that’s not quite true. I mean, ok, I tried the guitar long ago, but gave up because I discovered an allergy to pain. Seriously, people, how on earth do you put up with the initial pain of learning the guitar? OK, I guess the answer is ‘because I want to learn to play the guitar’, but for whatever reason – lack of inclination, lack of effort, lack of actual genuine desire… no, not for me.

The only two and a half musical instruments I leaned to play were:

– the recorder

I went to school at a time when everyone had music lessons, everyone had the opportunity to discover which musical instrument ‘spoke’ to them and which musical instrument they’d enjoy playing. And anyone who was at a complete loss, anyone who didn’t enjoy playing any musical instrument, they were given a recorder to use. id say ‘play’ but that would place an unfair burden on the language that it should never be fairly expected to bear.

I was very bad at using/playing the recorder. No, really, very bad. But – and this is the important bit – I never had any urge to actually get better at it. Not a one.

I was surrounded by music at home; both my old man and my brother played the guitar, and I loved music. But I never felt any urge at all to create any, or play some, myself. It’s a flaw, a big one, that I genuinely regret.

Oh, by the way, just to prove that it’s the performer, not the instrument, that makes the difference:

– a melodica

My parents then, lord knows why, bought me a melodica. I’ve seen more modern ones, melodicas that you lay horizontal and play via a connected tube, the ‘wind’ part of the process being supplied by blowing through it. This wasn’t one of them. You held it like a big thick recorder, and just blew through the mouthpiece, down the instrument, while you played the keyboard on the outside of the device. I remember quite liking it, or at least, not hating it, which for me and music wasn’t easily distinguishable back then.

The difference between this and the recorder was palpable for me. The recorder sounded silly, apart from anything else. And it annoyed people. The melodica on the other hand, had a warm sound, and no one actually got annoyed by it.

I was never any good at it, but I didn’t stink while playing it.

You remember I said two and a half?

Here’s the half.

Yeah, ok it’s a bit daft calling that a musical instrument, as the only thing coming out of it – at least when I used it – was a series of discordant tones, which only by coincidence bore any resemblance to ‘notes’. It really was ‘noise for Dummies’; no question there.

You see the numbers? Below and above what I suppose I should call a ‘keyboard’? The music books you got with it, and could buy, had standard sheets of music, with the notes numbered. It made painting by numbers look intellectual.

(Yes, I enjoyed it, of course I did. No other bugger around me did, though.)

Not that long ago, after I mentioned that I would like to learn to play the mouth organ, Mitch bought me a mouth organ; it’s genuinely a regret that I’ve not thus far learned to use it.

I will. Soon.

(An added advantage of learning to play it would be that I would never be expected to sing, while playing it, but that’s a blog entry for another day.)

I’ve occasionally been on telly

Yes, I’ve every so often mentioned that I was on Mastermind, but usually for fairness, do add that there’s only the first, the specialised knowledge, round clipped… since I died on my arse in the general knowledge round. Just had brain-fart after brain-fart.

But enjoy, at my expense, the ‘rabbit frozen in the headlight’ look of the first round.

But no, I wasn’t referring to that. I’ve been on the occasional studio discussion: one on reform of the electoral system on Newsnight; one, several decades back, about ’empty nest syndrome’ (and how students have little if any sympathy for parents hit by it); and a few years ago, I was on Question Time. Not on the panel, no; in the audience.

Of course, this was back in the days when Question Time had an actual mission of informing, and getting politicians and guests to at least have a genuine stab at answering the question. So, yes, many years ago, obviously.

It was before the 2010 election, and the panelists included George Osborne, Alex Salmond and Charles Kennedy. It came up in conversation the other day, and I was reminded of the biggest shock of the evening; I’d say ‘…of the recording’, but you’ll see what that would be inaccurate.

After the warmup, with audience members playing the panelists, complete with a couple of dummy questions, the real panelists came out, and there’s ten minutes or so while they settled themselves in. During that time, Osborne came over as warm, funny, self deprecating, a very dry sense of humour, very funny, and obviously someone you’d like to know. Genuinely.

There’s another dummy question, then the lights dim very slightly, and David Dimbleby says ‘ok, we’re about to start…’ and a marked change comes over Osborne. He sits up a little straighter, the wide smile on his face metamorphoses into a slight sneer. The voice goes up an octave.

It’s the most remarkable transformation I’ve ever witnessed.

I’m reminded of the line said about Humphrey Bogart: he was fine until nine at night, and then he remembered he was Humphrey Bogart.

Osborne went from someone the audience liked, genuinely liked, to a representative of everything about the Tory Party that the public disliked: smarmy, sneers, cheap gags at others’ expense, unyielding, cruel.

Anyway, so, yeah, I’ve been on telly once or twice.

I’m an idiot

No, really. On stuff I don’t know, I’m usually completely ignorant. There are so many things that it seems everyone else knows – mainly anything to do with ‘current’ culture, reality shows, sports – of which I’m entirely anywhere. Part of it is lack of interest, partly that I have no memory skills for stuff in which I have that lack of interest.

But I’m also in awe of ‘professionals’, peopel who make their living doing something; I tend to often believe that they know what they’re talking about.

Here’s a tale, a quick one, about someone who knows their field, and knows me, all too well.

Not a secret that I have a fucked up foot. Also not a secret that due to the aforementioned fucked-up foot, I take large amounts of painkillers, opioids. And even before the current crisis, I was worried about how many I was taking.

Within weeks of taking them, I suddenly got it into my head that a) I was addicted to them, and b) that was inherently a problem.

At the time, I was… let’s be polite and say ‘seeing’ a young lady in Birmingham who was a drugs worker. I mentioned my concerns to her. Well, let’s be fair; it’s me, after all, so I probably drove her nuts about it.

After patiently explaining to me the difference between

‘being addicted’ (“Of course you’re addicted. You’ve been taking them for weeks now, 1/4 gram of codeine every day. If you came off them cold turkey right now, you’d rattle for a few days’


‘having a problem’

And the following conversation ensued:

Her: Why are you worried?
Me: Because if I have a problem, then…
Her: Your doctor will know.
Me: Yeah, but I want to know.
Her: OK, I’ll tell you what I tell my clients. You take 8 a day?
Me: 6 or 8, yeah, depending on how bad the pain is.
Her; OK, pick a day when you need to take 8… and take 7. Don’t replace the other one, the tablet you’re not taking, with anything. Just… don’t take it. See how you get on. See whether you ‘live’ for that tablet.

Made sense to me. So I did precisely that. I waited a few days, then we had a cold snap, as I recall. My foot was on fire; I remember every step I took, because it hurt.

I waited a day, then, took seven instead of eight. I took two when I woke, two around lunchtime, two before bed, but just the one cocodamol tablet in the early evening.

Oh shit. Live for the missing tablet? I wanted to maim someone to get the other tablet. Ad I couldn’t. I mean, it was right there: in my bathroom cabinet.

I really wanted to take it, but resisted… but yeah, I lived for that missing tablet.

I repeated the experiment the following day. Two tablets each at morning, lunch and bed, but just the one early evening… with pretty much the same result.

And again on the third day.

By the late evening of the third day, I’m angry and upset, at me, at my stupidity for following the advice, at her for giving me the advice…

The fourth day, I call her.

Me: Yeah, we need to talk
Her: What’s up?
Me: That test you set me?
Her: Yeah? Oh, you’ve been doing it? I wondered why you were cranky on the phone last night
Me: Yeah, I might have a problem.
Her: Why?

So I told her. I told her what I’d done, told her the effect, told her I’d been living for the missing tablet

And what did this person do? This woman who liked me? Who I trusted?

What did she do?

She laughed down the phone at me. Proper belly laughs.

What the…?

Her: You’re supposed to be smart. You’re an idiot. Don’t you get it? If you had a problem, you’d have taken the other tablet. You’d have made up every excuse, you’d have lied about the excuse, but you’d have taken the other tablet. You’d have lied to me, lied to yourself, you’d have come up with an explanation why you cut the experiment short. You’d have convinced yourself that it was a waste of time. You’d have justified it ten ways to Sunday. But: you would have taken the other tablet. You don’t have a problem. Well, not over this anyway…

And of course, she was right. And I’ve kept a look out for the signs since. Do I take them when they’re not needed? When I’m not in pain? Have I ever increased the dosage, or the number of times I take them (at all, but especially beyond the allowed amounts)

And I haven’t. I’ve taken them for years, and I’ve never abused them.

But yeah, I was an idiot. I still am. But not, at least, I hope about anything important.
Something else, tomorrow.

Well, that was fun…

It’d been ages since I’d done one of these, and seeing various friends do it, and my missing #ThisIsMyJam, I figured why not.

The rules were simple.

Basically, this:

So, since it’s kind of nice to have a permanent record of such things, this is what I chose:

DAY 01: A song with a colour in the title.

Plenty there could be, but this is the song that immediately sprung to mind.

Paint It Black | The Rolling Stones.



DAY 02: A song you like with a number in the title

Well, it’s repeated but it’s a single number.

Officially entitled “Win 1 Lose 1” | Mitch Benn



DAY 03: A Song that reminds you of summertime

Yeah, this… one of my favourite songs anyway. Was going to save this for later, but… naah.

Walking On Sunshine | Katrina and The Waves


DAY 04: A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget

A hard one. Because of painful memories? Or someone I occasionally & unexpectedly remember, and it always throws me, a lot.

For all sorts of reasons, though:

I Can Dream | Skunk Anansie


DAY 05: A song that needs to be played loud

What else?

Shout | Lulu


DAY 06: A song that makes you want to dance

OK, that’s just not fair. I mean, I don’t dance. At all. I just don’t.

So here’s one I did dance to, and still love: Laura and I started our marriage to it.

When You Tell Me That You Love Me | Diana Ross


DAY 07: A song to drive to

Hmm. Could be loads, depending on my mood. And usually, it’d be an audiobook anyway.

But let’s go for this one, always a good one to belt out loud in the car.

The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) | Cher


DAY 08: a song about drugs or alcohol

Ok, one song jumps to the fore and, while this is far from the best version, you can never go wrong with The Muppets, esp with Peter Sellers as a guest.

Cigarettes and Whiskey


DAY 09: a song that makes me happy

My late brother sang and played the guitar, with more enthusiasm than talent, but he did singalongs with his 2 yngr brothers. Here’s one he liked playing, a lot.

Help Me Make It through the Night | Kristofferson/Coolidge


DAY 10: a song that makes you sad

Any songs that qualify are ones that remind me of a rough, or bad, time. Or at least just a rough time in my head, in my soul.

So, no details, but… yeah.

Alone Again (Naturally) | Gilbert O’Sullivan


DAY 11: a song you never get tired of

Kind of implies a long-loved song, a very long loved song. So something from way back.

Here’s something I’ve loved since the moment I heard it.

Georgy Girl | The Seekers


DAY 12: a song from your pre-teen days

Well, could be anything from pre-1977, but I’ll take this from 1969, which I remember falling in love with as a song the moment I heard it.

It’s Getting Better | Cass Elliot


DAY 13: a song you like from the 70s

Despite being destroyed by so many keyboard players over the decades, the original from 1973 still holds up for me.

Piano Man | Billy Joel


DAY 14: a song you’d love to have played at your wedding

Hmm. Two problems with this: (1) I’m NEVER getting married again, (2) I already had what my ex-wife and I opened the dancing to as Day 06.

But here’s one for you.

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face | Roberta Flack


DAY 15: a song you like that’s a cover by another artist

Plenty to choose from, because oft times I prefer the cover to the original.

Here’s one of them I really like.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside | Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews


DAY 16: a song that’s a classic favourite

I… have… no… idea… what… that… means…


A song that everyone likes? One that’s regarded by most people as a fantastic song? “Happy birthday”?



Mad About The Boy | Dinah Washington


DAY 17: a song you’d sing with someone on karaoke

Y’see, I’m worried, terrified, that if I say ANYTHING, Kirsty Newton will drag me up on stage for Kirsty’s Singalong when it restarts.

But OK:

Well, Did You Evah? | Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra


DAY 18: a song from the year you were born

OK, well, I’m lucky here. 1964 was a pretty good year for music.

Let’s go for a singalong one.

I’m Into Something Good | Herman’s Hermits


DAY 19: a song that makes you think about life

Most of the songs that I thought of were, frankly, too dark.

And then there’s this. I was going to go for the classic Jim Croce version, but no. This is too good not to include.

Time In A Bottle | Muppets


DAY 20: a song that has many meanings to you


This is a song that qualifies. And no, you probably don’t know most of the meanings it has for me.

Always On My Mind | Willie Nelson


DAY 21: a song you like with a person’s name in the title

So many it could have been, but I do like this one… especially the sheer fun they’re having performing together.

Rosetta | Alan Price and Georgie Fame


DAY 22: a song that moves you forward

‘Moves you forward’? I’m taking that as something I enjoy – when the foot allows – walking to.

Not a ‘song’ strictly speaking, but it’s my list. So there.

The Opening Theme from SHAFT | Isaac Hayes


DAY 23: a song you think everyone should listen to

Easy choice here, seriously… So bloody easy.

Alternative Right | Mitch Benn


DAY 24: a song by a band you wish were still together

Oh, easy.

The Philosophers’ Song | Monty Python


DAY 25: a song you like by an artist no longer living

Possibly my favourite of her songs, and I’m still upset she’s no longer around. And every so often, it hits again.

Things Would Never Have Worked | Victoria Wood

(Song starts about a minute in)


DAY 26: a song that makes you want to fall in love

I’ve tried not to cheat with this. BUT I’ve genuinely no wish to ever fall in love again, nor have anyone fall for me.

So, I’m cheating.

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ | Long John Baldry and Kathi McDonald


DAY 27: a song that breaks your heart

Every bloody time. (Although Jess Robinson’s version of this, impersonating O’Connor, also breaks my heart every bloody time as well.)

Nothing Compares 2U | Sinéad O’Connor


DAY 28: a song by an artist whose voice you love

Definitely one of those “heard one song by this artist, and immediately wanted to listen to everything she’s ever sung”.

A Night Like This | Caro Emerald


DAY 29: a song you remember from your childhood

Here’s something from February 1973, when I was eight, so I’m pretty sure it qualifies.

Avenues and Alleyways | Tony Christie


DAY 30: a song that reminds you of yourself

For so many reasons, it’s got to be something by my mate Mitch.

And this definitely applies, even it it’s SO inappropriately early, he definitely won’t like me using it.

Christmas Whether You Like It Or Not | Mitch Benn



Well, that was fun… A friend of mine, Al Kennedy, created a follow up, another 30 days… so you can either follow my choices, usually posted about 6pm UK time, on Twitter at @budgie, or wait a month and see what I picked…


Meanwhile, something else tomorrow…