Anything But Shadows

Long before most of us were born, there were The Shadows, probably the greatest “guitar band” ever, judging by the number of #1 hits they had. Yeah, they were also known as Cliff Richard’s backing band, way back in the late 1950s and 60s… and the 70s, and 80s, and 90s, and 00s.

I know, I know: the music is simple by today’s guitar “gods” — and yet, ask any of the modern guitarists worthy of the term, and without doubt almost all — Clapton, Brian May, Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and others — will speak in respectful tones about Hank Marvin, the Shadows’ lead guitarist, probably one of the great pickers of all time. Other musicians will speak equally as respectfully of Bruce Welch’s rhythm guitar work, the bass lines and Brian Bennett’s drums, which together produced one of the tightest sounds ever.

So hie thee hence and watch the “Shads” in action — or rather, don’t watch them because once again by today’s standards the concert is so understated it’s quite soporific — no clouds of smoke, no strobe lighting, no special effects at all: just the Shadows playing their music — rock, country, jazz, ballads — for over two hours, without a single misplaced note. (Ask any modern rock musician if they can play a two-hour concert without a single mistake, and they’ll give you a rueful look.) There’s something to be said for a fifty-year career playing together…

So don’t watch the whole show; do what I do: watch the first few songs, then carry on with your regular Saturday household activities or Internet surfing, and let the Shadows be your background music for a couple hours. Every so often, you may recognize a tune, and think, “So that’s who did it!” and smile. It’ll happen a lot, especially the smiles.

There’s no need to thank me; it’s all part of the service.

Journey Across No Man’s Land

…begins this afternoon, wherein your Humble Narrator leaves the warmth and comfort of Hardy Country for the metropolis of Londonistan:

For no reason at all, I’m starting to miss my Springfield 1911…

Anyway, I’ll be spending a couple-three days here and crossing two items off Ye Olde Buckette Lyste (details to follow) before heading north to Scottishland to check off yet a third: the Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh.

Filling The Old Pie-Hole

One of my childhood comfort foods was the venerable (to Brits) steak ‘n kidney pie (my Murkin Readers can pause here for regurgitation purposes). Basically no larger than a fistful, it’s as advertised: pieces of steak and kidney smothered in gravy, all encapsulated in flaky pastry. As a starving boarding school pupil, it saved me from death on many an occasion when purchased from the school “tuck” shop during First Break (recess).

Most takeout places in Britishland serve these things hot, and they are pretty much a staple snack dish, along with chicken pies, pork pies, Cornish pasties (too much veg., not enough meat) and variants such as steak ‘n potato and steak ‘n onion.

However, if you’re looking for something to eat at home, i.e. something that can be bought at a supermarket, then pickings are slim; for reasons which escape me, the supermarket pies are almost all dreadful regardless of store name — Tesco, Sainsbury and even Waitrose have nothing to brag about when it comes to pies.

I thought all was lost until only a few days ago, when I discovered this magnificent item in the fridge at Sainsbury, of all places:

(“Pukka” is a derivative of an Indian word which means “the real thing” — and is it ever.)

Pukka makes other pies, but I don’t know which or how many, because I only had eyes for this type. I bought one, and took it home without any high expectations — but oh joy, was I ever wrong!

Large pieces of tender meat (no gristle), lovely savory gravy and crispy pastry, warmed in the Aga for only a few minutes: if I’d bought half a dozen I’d have eaten them all in one sitting. The Cook at FM Towers also likes them, and tells me that their other offerings are likewise splendid, so there you have it.

This has been a Public Service Announcement from Kim, and will help anyone traveling to Britishland hereafter. No need to thank me, it’s all part of the service.

5 Worst Things To Find In Your Lifeboat’s Survival Kit

Your trip on board the Ocean Princess has ended in disaster and you find yourself alone in a lifeboat with no others in sight. In the boat’s survival kit you find the following, ranked in ascending order of awfulness:

  • an empty flare gun
  • a coupon for $100 off your next trip on the Ocean Princess
  • a blister pack of contraceptive pills
  • a tin of boiled lutefisk
  • a CD player with fresh batteries, containing “Barry Manilow: The Turkish Bath Years”

Your suggestions on the topic in Comments, please.

Morons And Twisted People

As Longtime Readers may know, my writings have occasionally caused Bad Feelings among a certain group of people: feministicals of both* genders (Pussification), members of the Perpetually-Offended By Perceived Racial Slurs Club (Let Africa Sink) and wannabe gun controllers, as well as all sorts of people of the liberal inclination who have taken exception to things I’ve written, even when obviously only played for a laugh or to highlight liberal stupidity [redundancy alert].

Those Bad Feelings have occasionally manifested themselves as death threats against me, which I’ve shrugged off because if I see them coming, I can take preemptive action (e.g. shoot the wannabe-assassin in the face with a .45 bullet or two). If I don’t see them coming, well… nothing to be done about it, really.

I won’t say that I’ve deserved such extreme silencing measures, of course, but I will at least acknowledge that my writing — i.e. something I’ve actually done as Kim du Toit — has caused said Bad Feelings. The people making the threats are sick fucks, and that’s all there is to it.

However, I recently discovered that there’s a whole sub-basement of Sick Fuckery, whose denizens are even worse than my brand of assholes. These are the people who have uttered death threats against Dutch actress Carice van Houten, not because of anything she’s done herself, but because of things she’s done while playing a character in a TV show. I speak here of Game of Thrones, of course, and apparently this hapless woman’s character is a pretty bad sort who causes all sorts of misery unto other characters in the show.

Now, I haven’t watched GoT, as the cognoscenti call it, since its first season when I realized that writer George R.R. Martin is a shit storyteller (explanation some other time) and the show was going to suck terribly. But apparently, some totally sick and twisted fans of GoT have somehow gotten the idea that the lovely Ms. Van Houten is personally, in real life, responsible for all those evil misdeeds of her character, and have uttered death threats towards her, I suppose, to try to end her HBO-based “reign of terror”. Here’s this eeeevil woman as herself:

Like I said, this transference of hostility portrays not only delusional stupidity, but industrial-strength delusional stupidity. These idiots make my set of armchair assassins look positively sane by comparison.

I’d like to say that we can safely ignore these fools because, well, they’re fools. But unfortunately, delusional fools such as these have an unfortunate tendency to become non-delusional murderers — John Hinckley over Jodie Foster, David Chapman over John Lennon and so on. So because of that, I want the police (regardless of country) to hunt these assholes down and send them to a non-delusional prison for a lengthy stay. This will achieve two objectives: 1.) it will take them out of our society for a while — at least until GoT finishes its final season and Carice van Houten can go on to star as, I dunno, maybe Maria von Trapp in the next West End production of Sound of Music — and 2.) it may act as a deterrent to the next generation of delusional idiots who want to attack people for abstract reasons. I emphasize “may” because with this kind of stupidity, there are no guarantees.

Oh, God; I just realized that by called George R.R. Martin a shit storyteller and saying that GoT sucks as an epic tale that I’m probably going to attract these tools’ homicidal attentions towards myself. (I can only hope that they’ll bring a GoT-appropriate sword or dagger to the gunfight that will ensue.)

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the Barbury School for a little further instruction in shooting at moving targets.


*I don’t care how many “genders” are currently fashionable. There are only two — male and female — although there is a case for a neutered third gender which would include both male and female academics working in the Humanities Department at universities, whom nobody wants to fuck.

Back To Normal

For the past two weeks or so it’s been quiet here in Hardy Country. The Free Markets were sailing on their yacht somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean and I was pretty much left to my own devices here at the Towers. This meant that I could catch up with my reading, and the staff could recover from the floggings.

However, Mrs. FM returned home last night and Mr. FM remained in the capital to continue his calling, i.e. oppressing the working classes. This means that life will return to its quiet pastoral nature out here, except that the gardener is going to get soundly chastised for allowing the lawns to exceed the prescribed 2″ in height.

I think I’ll have some breakfast, watch the flogging and then go for a ride on the grounds. Colonel Brandon would approve.