Back in June, me and a bunch of cronies travelled hundreds of miles out of our way to go see Queens of the Stone Age at Cardiff Castle. A week and a half ago, we drove as far as Stockton-on-Tees to see them again.
Stockton is not usually known for its music venues (at least as far as my limited knowledge of the place goes) so the fact that the band chose this over the arena in Newcastle, the Sage in Gateshead, hell, even the Stadium of Light in Sunderland is baffling. The Globe in Stockton was so small we could barely get into the room; the closest we could get to the stage was the very rear by the doors. It felt like more than 3000 people were there, the supposed capacity of the place.
I bought three bottles of water and stood in line at the bar for half an hour. A lady got annoyed because, after going through the security checks, her umbrella was confiscated.
in time honoured fashion, I took several photos from the back of the room and most of them were blurry. Here is my most blurred effort:
I am very proud of my efforts and think I should take up photography immediately.
It is now only two days until I pass into official middle age, two days before it all comes crashing down upon me. Actually that’s not true. I have long since been comfortable with my transformation from hip thirtysomething into a forty year old man. I’m sure that forty year olds have a lot going for them and, if not, then I’m here to shake things up for them.
I started reminiscing (even more than usual) about my youth and decide to record some of the lessor-known facts in case anyone was interested. They are in no particular order and most of them are probably not worth hearing anyway. Consider yourself warned:
I watched a lot of television as a child. A lot. I spent most days flicking through the TV guide circling what I wanted to watch in the upcoming week. On weekends it was worse, starting around 6:30am for the kids TV, taking a little break around lunchtime when the “adult” programs started and then coming back in the afternoon for more cartoons, sitcoms and anything else. The BBC repeated tons of sitcoms over the weekend and I was there for them. In my tiny child brain I would sing, “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Kipling?” when watching the opening for ‘Dad’s Army’. Don’t ask me why, it doesn’t quite scan properly (which may explain a lot of my efforts at writing poetry) and there is absolutely no correlation as far as I’m aware between the beloved cake-maker and the murderous dictator.
Later on I wanted to be a space cowboy but earlier on in my life I wanted to be a wizard. This may have been spurred on by what I read in ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. I would steal various shampoos, conditioners, bubble baths and sometimes things from the kitchen cupboards (the bathroom was next to my bedroom so it was easier to sneak in and out with my effects) and mix them together to create potions. Did I have a proper cup or beaker to do so? No, I used the top of an old toy that had broken off. It was as curved green pot thing that was supposed to be the top of the tree. I think my mum noticed things were oozing out of the back of the small wooden desk in my bedroom so they broke in to look at what I had been doing. It seems as though I had also mixed in a dead spider to my current concoction to, I don’t know, heighten the potency of the potion. Needless to say I was politely asked to stop.
I did a lot of showing off. I had three other siblings to compete with, I had no choice. Right? Right. I’m glad we’re on the same page. During the summer holidays my dad would “borrow” a video camera from the school he was working at and we would make home movies of varying quality, mostly terrible. In the quieter moments I would use the camera to record whatever I thought would be a good idea at the time. Once I made a stop-motion video of my pink dinosaur killing himself by jumping off the end of my parent’s bed, and when I say stop-motion I mean practically still shots with huge jumps in the middle rather than painstakingly moving the dinosaur into the next position. The crowning achievement however was the time I recorded five minutes of me narrating a fictitious race between… well that part is lost to me. It was a race though because I was doing my best Murray Walker impression. I was young and I had a cold so my enunciation was pretty terrible. I moved the camera wildly from side to side saying whatever came into my head. The film is notorious for one line that my brother and sisters still bring up to this day. I cannot tell you what I am actually saying because there is no substitution in the English language that would explain it yet I cannot fully believe I would say what I said at the age of 6 or 7. What did I say? Sigh. “I wanna see some boobies!” I didn’t fully know what boobies were at that age so why I would want to see them is anyone’s guess. It’s baffling knowing that it’s me and not being able to understand what I’m trying to say. The answer is lost to time.
One more before I go. I had a knack of trading things at an early age. In primary school I would take the toy or thing that came in the box of cereal and I would trade them at school with other kids for toy cars. I didn’t want the cereal toys, I wanted their toy cars and for some reason the other people thought this was a fair trade. In secondary school (you may have heard this one before) I would take the lunch that my mum had so carefully put together and sell it to someone in my form for the price of a school dinner which, I believe at the time, was £1.30. I did this every day so I came away with over a fiver a week to add to my pocket money pile. I used the money to go into town at the weekend to buy video games and CDs. My mum wouldn’t be home until after 5pm on a weekday so I would come home and eat bread (about a quarter of a loaf) and cereal to take away the hunger pangs I was feeling. She didn’t find out about this until I was in my twenties. I ate so much bread I believe it may have contributed to the intolerances I am now experiencing as an adult man, plus it made me round and chubby like the Pilsbury Doughboy from all the extra carbs.
The last time my sister visited from Sweden we went round to my brother’s house, as we always do whenever there’s a family gathering because he has the biggest house. We all brought food and had a general chit-chat. It was the same as it ever was.
It was, that is, apart from Sarah had a mild fascination with eating food from the 1980’s and kept bring it up in conversation. This continued for a while and when the desserts were brought out this included a very sad-looking Viennetta.
“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.
“Oh nothing really,” said Sarah, “it’s been in mum’s freezer for a while but other than that it’s fine.”
“Oh. Could I have a bit more information about that? Only the last time we emptied mum’s kitchen cupboards we found food and spices from Safeway which was very disconcerting given that it hasn’t existed since 2005.”
Sarah goes back into the kitchen to check the box which is still lying on the kitchen counter.
“It says…. 2019. But it’s sugar, right? Nothing is going to happen to sugar. You won’t get poisoned or anything.”
Yes, my sister, the doctor, ladies and gentlemen. I did have a small slice out of curiosity and it did taste a bit funky however it was in a way that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The flavour was there, the ice cream, the wafer-thin chocolate bits, all were present. Still this lingering feeling of uncertainty kept me, and everyone else insane enough to have a bit, from fully enjoying it.
It also had some freezer burn and had to stand for a while before it all fell off.
This is your timely reminder that wor Kev was famous well before he entered the fray of the ‘Beans.
Kev’s career started early. While the rest of us were lying on our backs with bottles and dummies in out mouths, he was out in the street rounding up the local cats in the neighbourhood to organise a delivery service to rival the Royal Mail. Dem kitties were strapped with all kinds of packages and sent out into the world. Very little returned but it gave the lad a head for business.
When he started primary school he saw potential, not for education but for racketeering. It was only a matter of time before he was patrolling the playground shaking down wimps for change and bottles of milk, no no, a sip was not enough for him. His empire stretched all the way from the swings down to the football pitch and across to the gates by the main road.
He grew tired of this though, it was all too easy. Kev wanted a challenge and he found this in amateur dramatics. There wasn’t a part he couldn’t play: Julius Caesar, Moses, Othello, Rhett Butler, Gary Wilmott, Bruce Forsyth, the list was endless. Success was around the corner and he could smell it. A local talent scout saw his production of Pinter’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ and immediately cast him in a new children’s television programme about a boy who made a fortune.
‘Matt’s Millions’ was based on the book by Andrew Norriss about a boy who writes a successful video game on his home computer while ill and off school, and earns over one million pounds for his troubles. Kevin, of course, played the lead role of Matt, struggling to deal with the trials and tribulations of a pre-teen swimming in money. Does he go off the rails, knee-deep in clunge and blow? Of course not, he’s only eleven.
Though it only lasted for four episodes, Kev took his role very seriously and prepared for the part as only a professional would. He organised a meeting with Alan Sugar and shadowed him for a few days followed by a week with Donald Trump, wiping fake tan off his clothes every half an hour. He went deep into everything. When the series finished he had to take a few months off from the business because he was convinced he was a millionaire and expressed open disdain for his parent’s house only having three bedrooms and no pool.
These days you’re more likely to find him sticking abb dabs into cable wires and various other IT-based activities rather than on the telly or stage. Though the world mourns the loss of a world-class thug, entrepreneur and actor it celebrates his ability to cleanse the soul of a computer or whatever it is that IT people do.