Hello there. Chris here, from the chart-topping band The Papples. Thanks for joining me.
Years ago, when we were hard at work writing and recording songs for our third album, Pop Squared, we made a start on a song about the lead singer of Norwegian pop sensation A-Ha that never saw the light of day.
Well, lucky for you, every dog has his day, and every tired old half-baked Papples idea has its day too. I can now present to you the finished lyrics to a lost classic: “Everybody Fancies Morten Harket”.
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.
Yesterday at work, we were having a quiet afternoon, so I went off to find something useful to do. I ended up at the workbench in one of our upstairs rooms, where I made myself a coffee and spent a few hours fixing up some old PCs that were sitting around awaiting repair.
My plan had been to listen to the radio while I did this. The workbench has a little audio monitoring panel, with green LEDs bouncing up and down like on your dad’s 80s hi-fi, so I turned up the volume and found it playing Radio 1. There were no other controls.
With some difficulty I traced the cables out of the back and found they disappeared, unlabelled, into a hole in the floor. I went to the audio router at the other end of the room and tried switching stations on anything I could find tuned to Radio 1, but none of them were right.
No problem, I thought. It’s the 21st century. I’ll use my phone. So I opened my TuneIn radio app and selected 6music.
The app informed me that this station wasn’t available in my territory due to geographical restrictions. I looked around to confirm my surroundings, and yes, I was indeed sitting in Broadcasting House where 6music is assembled and broadcast, and my phone was connected to the building wi-fi. It was, therefore, legal to listen to that station in my present geographical territory.
Nothing I did would persuade TuneIn radio of that, though, and my coffee was going cold, and the PCs weren’t getting fixed. Sometimes, even when it’s your job to make the radio work, you can’t make the radio work. So I listened to Absolute 80s instead.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have woken up this morning, looked at your Pouring Beans Calendar 2020™, and been absolutely thrilled to see that today is Slick Voles Day.
Sometimes known as St. Vole’s Day (Scotland), Slick Vole Sunday (Australia and New Zealand), Voling Sunday (Canada) or even Slickvolesday Brought To You By CitiBank (USA and Argentina), this is the day when we join together to reflect upon and celebrate the life of St. Vole.
I’m sure you have your own plans to smother some voles in warm butter, so I don’t want to take up too much time when we should all really be with our loved voles, but I did want to take a moment to share with you my favourite Slick Voles Day Carol.
O Besainted Vole
O Besainted Vole Thy dark eyes quick And tail darting fa-ast Hail to you, O Vole
As you probably know, for the time being I am shacked up in a different flat a long way from home. There are many things about these temporary arrangements that are new and different, but probably the newest and differentest is the windowsill by the front door.
In this little block of flats, you see, there’s a windowsill next to the main door leading out to the car park, and the residents here seem to use it as a kind of informal swap shop. Unwanted items occasionally appear here, with no indication of their origin, and disappear a day or two later.
In the past week, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of items up for grabs, including a whole host of cook books, a coffee table book of photographs of chocolate, and one of those books that only really existed in the late 1980s and early 1990s that had a beige front cover and was specifically about microwaving things.
Here’s the current offer as I write this.
Four dishwasher tablets
Three potatoes in a basket
Three packs of lard, one of which is in a sandwich bag
A small Breville slow cooker
A CD compilation of traditional Christmas songs
The bad news, though, is that this week’s real bounty has already been taken. Here is what the windowsill held yesterday.
Yes, it’s hard to hear, I know, but the Ricky Martin album has already gone. I’ve missed my chance. Someone else in another flat is now Livin’ the Vida Loca, and I’m left slow-cooking my lard and potatoes in silence.
I cannot explain how Four Word Reviews work. The CDs just arrive, I don’t choose them, and they arrive by their own mysterious schedule. Right now I have a lot of them stacked up. Being in a position where I had a lot to choose from, I took a punt on Jonathan Ansell’s Tenor at the Movies, basically because I’d never heard of him. Here he is, look.
Normally when we take a look at pointless purchases, it’s Ian who’s been pointlessly purchasing things, and I’m one of the smug onlookers who gets to decide whether to just feel superior or whether to mix the feeling of superiority with a bit of heckling. Today’s different. Today it’s me that’s spent my hard-earned London pounds on something useless.
Here we are, then. Thanks to the fan club mailing list, I offloaded some cash to pre-order this highly collectible limited edition picture disc vinyl of Flood, They Might Be Giants’ biggest album, which has been released to mark its 30th anniversary. It turned up in the post this week.
The B-side has frames from the music video for “Birdhouse in Your Soul” on it, so when you play the record it animates.
This purchase is particularly pointless because I do not have a record player. I cannot play this record. Nor do I need to; I’ve got Flood in my iTunes library and have had it for years. This is just for me to look at. I might even frame it.