Avatar Not number one

Occasionally, over the years, I’ve found myself in a conversation about what was at number one in the charts when I was born. These conversations come up from time to time, probably more often than they deserve to, usually prompted by a DJ on the radio talking about it.

For a long time my answer has been “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie, number one in the UK charts in early May 1984. That’s quite a fun song to be at the top when I was born and usually gets a laugh. Great. Everyone’s happy.

Yesterday I looked it up to see what else was in the charts that week, and was dismayed to find that I had somehow got it wrong.

“Hello” was a UK number one single, and Lionel Ritchie with his blind student making a creepy clay head had a run of six weeks at the top of the charts in spring 1984. But that run ended in April, and by Sunday 5 May Lionel’s informal greeting based ballad was only just in the top ten. The number one single when I was born was actually “The Reflex” by Duran Duran, which is nowhere near as much fun. As you can imagine, I was distraught.

To cheer myself up, I decided to see if my birthday number one was better than yours.

Kev

Let’s hope Kev is a fan of Frankie Goes to Hollywood because they were apparently everywhere in late July 1984. They were at number one with “Two Tribes”, and also at number three with the famously banned orgasm themed classic “Relax”. The rest of the top ten is mostly forgettable; at number two is a novelty single spin-off from The Young Ones, and the rest include Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper and Shakatak. I feel like I’m on safe ground here.

Ian

Well, this is disappointing. Number one in mid-November 1983 was “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel, a massive singalong smash hit. Adding insult to injury is the rest of the top ten, which contains at least another five stone cold hits: “Say Say Say” by Paul McCartney (and Jacko, but we’ll skim over that); “Love Cats” by the Cure; Men Without Hats’ ridiculous “Safety Dance”; “Karma Chameleon”; and even “All Night Long” by the very same Lionel Ritchie who callously abandoned me on my birthday.

In summary, then, I am disappointed that my birthday number one turns out to be a Duran Duran single, and not a very good one at that, and thanks to the fact that he basically cheated by being born in 1983, Ian wins.

Avatar New slippers

Before I was about 22, I never wore slippers at all. Our house was a socks house. You took your shoes off and then you just went around in your socks until it was time to put your shoes back on and go outside somewhere. Just one pair of socks, though, not two at once. We weren’t savages.

But my student house was cold, and my housemates all wore slippers, and eventually the peer pressure got to me. On a trip to Next at the Trafford Centre I gave in and bought myself some suede slippers with a very jaunty orange liner. They were amazing, and I was an immediate convert. Now I’m a slipper person.

Since then I’ve spent many years working my way through successive pairs of black suede-effect slippers from Debenhams, but they don’t make them any more, and Debenhams is on its way to the wheely bin of corporate catastrophe, so they aren’t coming back. So now I don’t just need new slippers, I need to choose a whole new slipper type. Nightmare.

I spent several weeks not doing anything about it, because whenever I looked I wouldn’t find anything I liked. But my hand has been forced by the very cold floors in the new house and I made an emergency purchase of some fairly cheap ones that have stripes on the inside, just to keep my feet warm.

You can probably guess the punchline. My stripey slipper snobbery was ill-founded. The new slippers are warm, snug and everything I require. There’s no looking back now. It’s these bad boys all the way.

Please do share your own slipper stories here, unless they’re about wearing two pairs of socks at once. Nobody wants that.

Avatar Eternal (not the pop group)

How will you be remembered? What will be your legacy?

What small nugget of nonsense will you leave the world so they know that you were once here, plugging away through all of life’s shambles like everyone else? Most people think it’s easy enough to pop out of a couple of kids and job done, right?

While my legacy is currently encroaching on my status as ‘tallest person in my family’ and ruffling through cupboards looking for chocolate cereal, there is another way that I will be “fondly” (?) remembered for years to come.

My nieces have all collectively lost their minds, which is nice when you think about it; they could have lost them one by one but they chose to do it all at the same time like sisters. together as a family. Adorable. I’m so proud of them. They then decided to write a song, which is clearly inspired by me, and John sent me a video of them performing it. The internet doesn’t deserve that but what I will do is show you the lyrics to this timeless masterpiece. It’s so poignant that if that rumoured Papples reunion ever happens they may have to croon a cover of it.

Now all I need is someone to paint my beautiful visage next to a newly-commissioned big-chinned, bollock-necked MaGee with the lyrics surrounding me in a halo of light and my voyage to immortality will be complete.

Avatar More old news

Here we are again, starting a whole new year with the unnerving feeling that if we go outdoors for any length of time we will cause the immediate and irreversible end of all life on earth. Staying in and doing nothing has its charms of course, not least the fact that I can wear the same pair of pyjamas all day long for a whole week. But there’s not much to write about.

Back in May I posted a series of photos taken on that day in previous years, and it was so well received, and I was showered in such huge volumes of adoring fan mail, that I decided to do it again. So, let’s find out: what was Past Chris doing on this day in history?

Read More: More old news »

Avatar Thank you

So, what was 2020 to you? Was it a unique opportunity to develop your skills in a new working environment? Was it a chance to take some time off, away from the humdrum 9 to 5, by sitting at home and scratching yourself in places you forgot were there whilst being paid 80% of your usual wage? Could you remember a time before this when standing in line at the cinema or your train being ten minutes late was the biggest inconvenience in your life (or 30 seconds late for some people given that they don’t exist in the real world)?

Let me pull back the blistering skin burn that we call this year to highlight the people and mostly inanimate objects that have helped this bag of meat and bones get through the last twelve months:

  1. Wappy the robo puppy – if bowing and slightly turning your head to the right was a skill then Wappy would win 2020 paws down. With his sleek futuristic blue and white design, his blank expression and limited move set have seen me through some difficult times.
  2. Flat (Tiger) Kitty – the fun-loving prankster has been up to all kinds of hijinks. For the last few months he has remained perfectly still wearing a baseball cap and pointing his Nerf gun at the door to the living room, ready to protect my flat at any costs. That crazy orange and black stuffed animal.
  3. Mr R. Brek – despite expiring four years ago (wait, no, five years ago… ten years ago?!), Mr Brek still continues to fill my life with warmth and love. He’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning and last thing before the lights go out at night. A constant inspiration to prolonging a joke that was never funny in the first place, there will always be a place for him in my heart.
  4. Bri4n – a recent addition to the crew, the novelty robot has spent his time staring out the window at various passers-by. Whether raising his hand to salute dog walkers or keeping his arms aloft like a raging looney, there is still a lot of mileage left for this gimmick of gimmicks.
  5. Ted – though his physical presence was a hundred miles away, Ted was the only person (from memory) who actually sent me a letter this year. I also got some socks which was a cheeky bonus. I may still be puzzled as to whom Messy Monster is, and why I should share my socks with them, nonetheless his heartfelt message was one of the best things this year. Hopefully 2021 will provide the means of sending sausage rolls though the post safely.

Runners Up: Daisy the cow, the small collection of toys in the corner of my kitchen (who may have been acquiesced by a spider now they’re covered in webs), my tattoo of Archie the Badger from ‘Grandville’, my Pop Vinyl of Bob Ross and a tiny raccoon.

Oh and some other guys whose names I forget, Keith Harrup and Chas Millington maybe? You know who I mean.

Avatar Underneath my car 2

It’s almost two years since we all joined hands and took an emotional journey underneath my car. Two years of laughter, tears and general wear and tear. Two years of usage in all weathers.

There has, naturally, been a clamour from people of all nationalities and faiths to know what’s become of the underside of my vehicle in the intervening time. And who am I to stand in their way? So a couple of weeks ago, I returned my car to the same garage who made the first weird video and asked them for a full service.

Service completed, another weird video of the underside of my car was duly texted to my phone, and I have spent an afternoon trying to download it from a website that has been very specifically and cleverly designed to prevent videos being downloaded. I then set it to stupid music.

Here we are then. Join me once more as we go… underneath my car one more time.

Underneath Chris’s Car 2020 FAQ

Q. The tread depth looks a bit low on the front tyres, is that OK?

A. Yes, I know. But they have at least another half a year on them so it’s fine. I’ll get them sorted later.

Q. Why was there no Underneath My Car video in late 2019/early 2020?

A. I don’t know. My car had a service but they didn’t make me a video. I was genuinely a bit disappointed about it.

Q. How did the MOT go? This was its first MOT wasn’t it?

A. Yes it was. You’ll be pleased to know that my car passed with flying colours.

Thank you.

Avatar A lesson from the Commodores

I recently got a new computer to play games on, and filled it with all the games I like to play. The games I most like to play are the ones I used to play when I was about 15. This includes one of my all-time favourites, SimCity 3000.

SimCity 3000 is full of silly jokes and unexpected references, and when I was 15 I didn’t get all of them. Coming back to the game in the last month or two, having not really touched it for perhaps the best part of a decade, a joke popped up that made sense to me for the first time, and it made sense thanks to one Kevindo F. Menendez and one Ian “Hotter Otter” McIver, who had kindly introduced me to a song the teenage Chris had never heard, and my life was all the better for it.

Avatar Dear John

Good morning to you wherever you currently are in the world.

It is a shame when things have to move on. Times change for all of us and I don’t know about you but I always struggle to cope in some way, shape or form. You have been the presenter of Newsround, the presenter of Countryfile, you’re a household name and you never once seem to have given in to the excesses of wealth and fame. That is a shame because everyone needs to let off steam every now and then. Have you never felt as though you had more to give the world, like there was a career waiting in the shadows for you to do something about it?

Have you ever given any thought to a career in rap music?

I believe that you have the raw talent to succeed as Britain’s newest / oldest rapper. You may not have had any experience whatsoever which is fine. Did you ever seen that episode of Louis Theroux where he went to America and tried his hand at rapping? Anyone can do it. I put my hand firmly in the air to be your second in command, your “hype man” as they call it. What this means is what I will start every song by telling everyone how great you are at what you do, setting the stage for what rhymes you start spitting. I reckon that you have a viewpoint which is unique in the world of rap. We can rap about whatever you want: countries, files, antiques, rounds, news, ravens, whatever you like.

I’ve even been thinking about names and even though it could be a cartoon character desperate for a cigarette, how about Craver Crave? Or even Kraver Krave if you really want to knock it out of the park? I will be MC I because everything is a play on words, and it’s kind of like my name but not. It doesn’t have to make sense, nothing makes sense anymore when your’re in a world of giant clocks, money and lurid sex.

If it would help, because I know that you are a happily married man, I can take all the excess that you’d rather not deal with (mainly the groupies, I suppose) and put it in a box away from you. This means you can focus on the important part; the words. I bet you know all the words, I do mean ALL the words, and you’re going to hammer them down like concrete hailstones. This is going to be the best thing you ever did and it would be a supreme honour if you let me help you achieve your goals.

If you are happy to jump right into this I shall include a stamp addressed envelope with this letter so you can write back straight away. You may be a little nervous about this, you may have doubts about your rapping prowess but trust me, you were born for this. You are ready for this. We are ready for this. Now, more than ever, the world needs heroes to shoulder the burdens the others are not prepared for. You’re a good man, John Craven, and I know you’ll make the right decision.