Some more of me poetry

On the supernatural TV show Sapphire and Steel, there was this one shit scary story about a being with no face who lurked malevolently in every photograph. At around about the same time, the admittedly far less malevolent Pam Ayres seemed to be lurking everywhere on TV light entertainment schedules, ready to pounce and recite gently comedic poetry with a homely rustic twang - which seems at this moment to me, in its own way, equally shit scary. Many children no doubt hid behind the sofa when she was on, just like I'm hiding behind my sofa now from this collection of her verse. I found it on the book exchange table at my local supermarket and ill-advisedly decided to flick through it just as I was coming up. Sapphire! Steel! Or any medium atomic weight element! Heeeeeeeeeeeelp!

Sapphire and Steel is pretty definitive Middle England on LSD itself by the way. I can't find the whole of Assignment 4 online but here is a link to episode 2: Sapphire and Steel Assignment 4 episode 2 

Watch that on acid at your own risk. But could it ever be as fucking fucked as this?: Pam Ayres meat commercial  - arrrrgggghhhhhhh......

Introducing... the Suffolk County Tourist Board

On a recent trip to Suffolk I was trying to take some subtly trippy pictures of the place that gave good Middle England with a psychedelic edge. What I ended up with though was a bunch of pleasant holiday snaps of some touristy things that look quite nice anyway. In an effort to salvage something from the process, I've decided to edit some of them in the style of a promo campaign by the Suffolk County Tourist Board extolling the merits of the region as somewhere for people to come to get wasted. Very good indeed for the local economy, and I'm certain it's what the Suffolk County Tourist Board would want if it actually existed*. Furthermore, it's occurred to me that by default might well be the Suffolk County Tourist Board, and this is definitely what I would recommend.

A few weeks on now, I must say that I've started taking my role as the Suffolk County Tourist Board very seriously. At present I'm having a big push to get people to consider Aldeburgh for day trips. And if you want to hear about commitment, I had to lie on the ground in concerning proximity to some dog poo to get that shot of the spiral staircase. 4 real. (Apart from the @FuckingSuffolked twitter/X account, which sadly isn't 4 real, but perhaps should be.)

[*It doesn't seem to exist, anyway. Hey SCTB, if you do exist, get in touch and let's collab. There's no local tourist board in the country that wouldn't reap the benefits of a psychedelic rebrand. It'd be certain to get the area a feature on something like Countryfile or regional television.]

Transportation Professional

Transportation Professional is the magazine of the Institution of Highways and Transportation. Within its pages are articles on a fascinating array of topics ranging from award-winning aqueducts to runway friction. Making the cover of Transportation Professional is the transport industry equivalent of being on the cover of Vogue, Rolling Stone, Esquire and so on in the world of glossy magazines. 

So, well done Chris Jackson on getting there. The fucker's fucking fucked though, that's for sure. At least there's only one of him, you might point out in reply. The problem is - and I've spent the entire night looking at his picture to confirm this - his face is in a perpetual state of transmogrification. First comes the slight, knowing smile, of course, like he might be tripping too. Next comes the warping and swirling - subtle to begin with, then more and more pronounced - till things get pretty fucked up. Really fucked up, in fact - I think, on balance, in a good way. 

Chris Jackson, I salute you. You are indeed The Transportation Professional.

Farm shop cafe memorabilia

It's become a bit of a thing for me to celebrate a trip by making some commemorative merch. These things are a big deal, after all. The use of psychedelics offers such insights in the nature of existence as well as giving us life-changing experiences such as the visit to a farm shop cafe that this particular t-shirt commemorates. What better way to remember such times than a mouse mat, a mug or a t-shirt - a fridge magnet perhaps? In this case, I'm wearing that t-shirt like a medal for hard-won comedy bronze.

Middle England on LSD, Tuscany, August 2023.

Mike Oldfield Multitrack FC

I'm telling you, I went pretty deep into Mike Oldfield’s world for that piece about him a few posts back - to the point that passages of Tubular Bells now boom around my head like a powerful and immersive flashback. That world of his is a world comprised entirely of multitracked Mike Oldfields. You go to a supermarket there, the aisles are full of Mike Oldfields pushing shopping trolleys, you stand in a queue with other Mike Oldfields, Mike Oldfield serves you, and you're Mike Oldfield too. You get on the bus home, Mike Oldfield's the driver. It's a busy time of day so you stand because all the seats are taken. By Mike Oldfield.

It's the same with the football. Entire teams made up of multitracked Mike Oldfields play other teams of Mike Oldfield, officiated by Mike Oldfield, watched by crowds of Mike Oldfield. (NB Games between premiership Mike Oldfield sides also have a team of Video Assistant Referee Mike Oldfields, who not only check for potential offences that may have been missed but overdub the passages of play they review back into the game.)

Now, via the gift of terrible Photoshop, I hereby bring you a glimpse of that world.

Mike Oldfield Multitrack FC are: back row (left to right) - Mike Oldfield (manager), Mike Oldfield, Mike Oldfield, Mike Oldfield (gk), Mike Oldfield, Mike Oldfield, Mike Oldfield; front row - Mike Oldfield (team mascot), Mike Oldfield, Mike Oldfield, Mike Oldfield, Mike Oldfield, Mike Oldfield & Mike Oldfield.

She'll carry on through it all...

I remember John Craven once saying on Countryfile, ‘if you're going for the day to a place of outstanding natural beauty, be sure to get yourself nice and fucked up on mushrooms first’. Just kidding, of course. It was actually Nicholas Crane on Coast.* 

Anyway, whoever initially gave this advice, it certainly enhanced my appreciation of this waterfall at Aysgarth when I recently visited. I even got to have a bit of a chat with her, of sorts. She was quite high maintenance, I felt, in her own low-key way. She was pretty self-possessed, but at the same time seemed to be inviting recognition - seeking it even - and rather a lot of it at that. 'Look at me,' she pronounced, with an air of unforced confidence. 'I'm beautiful, I'm powerful, hardworking. Close your eyes & listen - you’d think you were in a factory, surrounded by the rhythmic clatter of great machines. But I'm not like a factory - it's factories that are like me. I've been doing this for thousands of years, you know. Never tiring at all, not once. It's merely a suggestion, but you should probably admire me.' 

I don’t mean to sound like she was overly pushy - she was actually very laid back. Quietly proud, you might say. But she was right, & the level of admiration that this fact entailed was pretty exhausting to sustain. I noted though that she was a bit vague about whether she was the rock or the water that passed over it, a combination of the two, or something else arising from this. I subsequently came to the conclusion that she was probably mainly the rock & the frothy water was a bit like hair. What a fantastic hairstyle.

Aysgarth Falls, August 2023.

*Also just kidding.

Psychedelic Dog Shit

Sleeve art for ‘Psychedelic Dog Shit’ by Parrots in Captivity, a particularly bold and confronting choice of lead single and opening track from their already ambitious debut triple album, ‘Parrots in Captivity, volumes I-III’. 

For those who don’t know the band, Parrots in Capitivty are an electropop duo, both members of which are the same person, Raymonde Toulouse (formerly of Baiser Béton). I don’t know how this set up works out for live performances and other public appearances, but Parrots in Captivity are yet another act from the stable of electropop svengali Pete London & I tend to trust his judgement on these things. 

Dog shit, too – that’s peak Middle England, so it’s a big thumbs up from me. Good luck boys – I’m sure this’ll be a chart smash.